Exhibition of Gagik Ghazanchyan
Modern Art Museum
Exhibition of Gagik Ghazanchyan
Modern Art Museum
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, drastic changes took place in the history of our visual arts and in the culture in general. They were so fulminant, that even with hindsight it is difficult to give a full, objective explanation of what happened. To cut a long story short, the changes eradicated the state-dictated idea of socialist realism.
The influence of people undeservedly occupying high positions such as professor, doctor, honored artist, laureate, academician etc came to an abrupt end without a “surgical intervention”.
They were not forced to resign and the new generation didn’t fight to replace them. It all happened as a consequence of a natural process and the artistic field was purified by itself. The basic principles of official art financed by the government eventually ceased to exist.
Big names disappeared. A few of the old generation’s masters remained, although most of them were forgotten. Even our great maestro Yervand Kochar was buried in an ordinary cemetery and not in Pantheon, an eternal home for remarkable people. Academician Alikhanyan suffered the same fate, since authorities considered him a dissident.
We were the only ones who remembered Karalyan, Jotto (Gevorg Gevorgyan), Sedrak Pashmajian, Petros Konturajian, Alexander Bashbeuk – Melikyan, Arutyun Kalents, Bardukh and Aramike. From our generation, artists such as Vruyr, Ashot Hovhannisyan, Martin Petrosian, Robert Elibekian, Henry Elibekian, Ruben Adalian, Gayane Khachaturian and Rudolf Khachatryan who had been not welcome – got a green light. Their works survived thanks to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Almost all the representatives of the previous generation passed away: Paruyr Sevak, Parajanov, Vruyr, Minas, Ashot Hovhannisyan, Musheg Galshoyan, Varos Shakhmuradian, Seyran Khatlamajian, Hrant Matevosian and Ashot Bayandur. The last of our people to remain were Rudolph Khachatryan and Agasi Ayvazyan.
When the next generation of artists emerged, some of them took on the newly developing tendency of the so-called “fantastic realism”, a way that gave more or less tangible a profit. Others turned to primitive modernism. What can be more vulgar in art than unrecognised provincial modernism? For this matter Kandinsky once noted that if a monkey is holding a book, it doesn’t mean it can read it.
Only a small group of outstanding painters emerged from this new generation. One of them is Gagik Ghazanchyan.
Maestro Kochar frequently used a word ‘curiosité’. This word could characterize works of artists who resort to outstanding ideas and controversial topics with a touch of adventurism. Obviously, this type of art has also the right to exist if it lives its own life and is devoid of imitation. Unfortunately, plagiarism flourishes today but for Gagik Ghazanchyan it doesn't exist. He has found his own way which he follows slowly but surely, and there is an unquestionable progress in his work.
Everything can be perceived by comparison. Recently in France I curated a group exhibition of 35 Armenian artists living in their homeland and abroad. Whether I showed the whole collection or just a part of it, Gagik’s canvases assumed their own place in the exposition in a very natural way.
To explain this phenomenon, I would refer to the idea of a“reliable player”. In the sport terms, it means a player you can trust with your eyes closed. Gagik is a reliable player in our contemporary art. His works carve a specific niche in many collections. His art doesn’t narrate or strive for a literary effect, but is peculiar, akin to those, who value art for itself. Neither sudden impulsiveness, nor stunning flights of fancy can be observed in his art. He is a self-sufficient person, who has felt no need to surprise with outward effects and innovative tricks. He follows his own route without hustle and bustle.
I sympathise with those painters who didn’t abandon the country when given an opportunity. Faced with a chance to search for a better life, they stayed and managed to create normal conditions for work in their homeland. Only a few exceptional Armenians managed to establish themselves as artists abroad.
As for Gagik Ghazanchian, there isn’t a better place than Armenia. In his recent works, more liberty and independence can be seen. They have become even fuller of sound.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for artists to envy one another. Gagik however is always sincerely happy for his colleagues’ successes, which speaks high of his inner qualities.
More than two thousand people in contemporary Armenia are engaged in visual arts, and hardly thirty of them deserve to be labelled genuine painters. Gagik Ghazanchian is definitely one of them.
When the Museum of Contemporary Art was established on July 8 1972, there was no jury. However, I don’t know an artist whose works deserve to be exhibited, but were not included in the collection for some reason. I am strict and unbiased when it comes to choosing works for an exhibition. I have good friends whose canvases have not been displayed in the Museum, and I barely know some artists exhibited there. The exhibitions reflect my genuine view and I don’t aspire to be the highest instance of absolute truth. On the contrary, I would welcome people dissenting it and wishing to open a new gallery with works of artists I chose not to exhibit.
Currently, I am preparing the first part of a book on the history of the Contemporary Art Museum. This is a history of our battle for its establishment. In the book, I am going to include artworks of a few painters from our generation who were not included in the collection of the Museum, mainly for space reasons.
Recently, Akob Akobyan and his wife Mary presented their best works to the museum. I believe it is a concept of existence and development of the Museum. By the way, the Centre Pompidou in Paris has been replenished in the same way.
Unfortunately, visual arts sadly do not rank high on our current government's agenda. I attribute this policy to the lack of understanding. Otherwise we would have had a splendid museum building by now.
We are responsible for the establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Soviet Union and the satellite countries. It survived like a bastion of our victory and independence. How come then that an independent country dotted with new avenues, fine hotels, restaurants and a booming tourism industry doesn’t have a decent building that would host the Museum of Contemporary Art with its extensive collection of the best Armenian painters of every generation? I wish we would live to that day.Henry Igityan
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In Gagik Ghazanchyan’s paintings the viewer is continuously confronted with a stereotypical structure of the canvas, and its constituent elements, the background and the figure are in contrast with each other. The background represents a collage that has its origins in photography. It embraces the elements of downtown districts of high-rise buildings often to be seen in contemporary American megalopolises that had come to replace medieval cities. In contrast with the background, the third element evolving in the foreground is nothing else than a color composition expressing motion which is sometimes semi-figurative and sometimes a completely abstract play of artistic creativity Read More