In the domain of art, Georgia broke away from Armenia only very late. The particular geographical situation of Transcaucasia and the historical events of the country explain how the two elements that characterize it in the period prior to Arab and Byzantine influences entered the local art: the figurative representation and the pure decorative abstraction, the former certainly due to the heritage of the great naturalistic past of Achaemenid Persia on the one hand and of Hellenism on the other, while the taste for decorative speculation was drawn from Sassanid art. The Iranian, Persian element came into closer contact with national art in Georgia and Armenia than in the West which received its teachings only through jewels and fabrics.
From the tombs and facades of Ctesiphon to the churches of Transcaucasia, the distance did not offer many obstacles. Thus in Georgia and Armenia the repertoire of decorative values contains many Sassanid elements, which prepare this art for the assimilation of the Arab genius. Evidence of this can be found in the ornaments, in the pendentives of the domes, in the vaults and even on the stalactite capitals (churches of Ohanavankh, in Geghard, in Daračačag).
This art, the fruit of various influences, came into contact with Byzantine art; and the brick and stone churches of Georgia belong to the general category of Byzantine churches with a basilica and central plan. Georgia offers already in the century. V of the churches with a central and domed plan, certainly dated (Ninocminda), a type that developed in the century. VII, a Ǧvari, Ateni, Martvili. The churches with a basilical plan are particularly developed in Urbnisi, Bolnisi, Nekresi, Gurǧan, Parkhal, Cegan. The two plants are associated with Oška, Kutais, Mcchet, Samtavro, etc. A type of national church was definitively formed in Georgia around the 12th-13th centuries. It is characterized by the conical dome on a polygonal drum – which becomes higher and higher over time (Mcchet) – with narrow windows and small columns. Sometimes the dome is replaced by a polygonal pyramid. The roofs are sloping floors. The facades have Romanesque decorations, with arcades and columns. Often the facade is decorated with a cross in relief and intertwining. The apse on the outside is polygonal or rectilinear. The basilicas have three or five naves.
According to SUNGLASSESWILL, the basis of the ornamentation are the “Georgian” weaves which give the whole a homogeneous aspect. The very dense ornamental elements highlight the unity of the main motif, formed by knots and intertwining. The workmanship is simpler, less linear, more colorful than that of Armenian art. While Muslim art decomposes forms with analysis, while Romanesque art tends towards unity and firmness, Georgian art holds the middle between the two ornamental modes, between the profusion of repeated ornaments and the development of a decorative pattern. In architecture, the search for plastic value is manifested more than for constructive balance. Often the basilica and the concentric plan are contaminated (Kutais cathedral); and the outside does not respond to the inside.
The main architectural periods in Georgia are: 1. 7th-10th centuries: Byzantine influence; 2. XI-XII centuries: formation of the national style; 3. sec. XIII: the style becomes more fantastic; under Western influence, tradition is being lost; 4. 14th-16th centuries: period of exuberant, overloaded decoration, of exaggerated proportions (the tambour, the dome, sometimes the enormously elongated domes, etc.). From the century XVIII there are no more original buildings.
Georgian painting and sculpture are less interesting than architecture. The icons generally imitate the Byzantines. The frescoes (Lek‛ne, Picunda, Vardzia, Drani, Mcchet, etc.) exaggerate the Byzantine principles in a coarse mannerism, with elongated shapes and a bluish color. Most important are the mosaics. Those of the Gelat‛i monastery of the century. XI are attributed to an excellent Byzantine master. Sculpture, generally subordinate to architecture, did not have an independent life; instead the plastic decoration is full of fantasy, variety and expressive value (Church of S. Croce, near Mcchet). The figures are of a great and primitive rudeness. The minor arts reveal the strong Byzantine influence.