Sarian Exhibition at Antibes Muse Picasso

"Life is an island. People come out of the sea–cross the island–and return to the sea. But this short life is long and beautiful. In getting to know nature man exalts the wonder and beauty of life"
Martiros Sarian

YEREVAN (Armenpress–– Situated in the French town of Antibes–the Muse Picasso in Chteau Grimaldi will host on June 27 an exhibition of works by Armenian painter Martiros Sarian. The exhibit "In the Country of the Flying Sun," will gather around 80 paintings from national and private collections throughout the world.

"Armenia became Sarian’s palette and he found the way of translating that hot light into colors–thus joining the array of the biggest painters of the 20th century–like the French fauvists headed by Henri Matisse and the expressionists of Germany," said the director of Sarian’s museum in Yerevan Shahen Khachatrian.

A large and impressive catalogue of Sarian’s works–as well as writings of famous art critics on Sarian’s life and works has been published on the occasion of the exhibition–organized by the director of the Muse Picasso Jean Louis Andralle.

The canvases will arrive in Paris on the morning of June 19.

The Muse Picasso was set up on the site of the former acropolis in the Greek town of Antipolis–which was also the site of the Roman castrum–and the Bishop’s Palace in the Middle Ages. Until 1608–the chteau was occupied by the Grimaldi family after whom it is named.

In 1928–the residence was purchased by the Antibes Town Council and turned into a Museum of Art–History and Archaeology.

In 1946–the museum’s curator Dor de la Souchre–allowed Picasso–who had settled in Golfe Juan–to use part of the chteau as his studio.

The Muse Picasso officially opened in 1949.

The modern art collection–begun in 1951 by Dor de la Souchre with a number of outstanding donations from artists whose works had been exhibited in the Museum–and by way of several equally exceptional purchases made over the years by the Antibes Town Council.

Artists from several major 20th-century artistic trends are represented–among them Gleizes–Ernst–Magnelli–Picabia–Hartung–Atlan–Balthus–Brassa–Music–Tapies–Klein–Hains–Arman–Csar–Spoerri–Raysse–Viallat–Dezeuze–Pags–Buraglio and Pincemin.


Sarian was one of the major cultural figures of Armenia at the turn of the century. Sarian was born in 1880 and died in 1972. In the course of his long life–Sarian experienced much sorrow and much joy. He witnessed the World Wars and the tragedy of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. He suffered the destruction of many of his paintings–and the death of his beloved son. But he never lost his talent for work–or freshness of vision. The vitality of Sarian’s genuinely national art lies in genuinely adhering to the character of his homeland–in its originality and its purely coloristic beauty. The master always managed to achieve a striking clarity and simplicity in the expression of complex ideas. His works are in no sense rational; they are deeply emotional.

Recalling his background–Sarian said–"My ancestors had come to the banks of the river Don from the Crimea–and to the Crimea from Ani–the capital of medieval Armenia. I was born into a family which followed the old patriarchal customs. There were nine children and I was the seventh." I do not know when the artist was born in me. It was probably in those days when I used to listen to my parents’ stories about our mountainous–enchanted country–when I used to run as a small boy over the land around our home–and was filled with joy at the many colors of the butterflies–insects and flowers. Color–light and day-dreaming–those are what sparked me."

His Fancies and Dreams present a synthesis of the aesthetic aims which the artist set for himself at that time. He was striving to represent nature symbolically as a "living entity." The works of this period–which Sarian began to show at Moscow exhibitions–were executed mainly in watercolors and tempera. They include: "Flowering Mountains"–"The Comet"," By the sea: Sphinx,"Two Panthers,"Under the Pomegranate," At the Well on a Hot Day," and others.

A new stage in Sarian’s work began in 1909 with works such as "Self-portrait" (two versions)–"In the Grove at Sambek,"Morning at Stavrino,"Hyenas," or "Burning Heat with a Dog Running." In "Morning at Stavrino " an actual place is depicted–the yard of his father’s farm–yet the canvas breathes the mystery of awakening nature.

Among his celebrated works were done in the 1910s: "A Street at Noon: Constantinople–Dogs of Constantinople,"Date-palm in Egypt,"Night Landscape,"Still-life with Grapes,"Flowers of Kalaki,"Still-life with Masks," and "Flowers of the East." Each of these works–with brilliant–joyous colors–overpower the viewer with a sense of life’s joy.

Landscapes dominated Sarian’s art. But beginning in the 1920s his landscapes became more monumental in character. Sarian created a generalized image of Armenia. In the paintings "Armenia,"Mountains,"Midday Stillness,"Yerevan," and "Mount Aragats," an effect of spatial depth is achieved through a balanced arrangement of saturated color patches. The absolute harmony of color and light arouses a restful feeling–a deep sense of peace.

The artist brings to each of his works most delicate shades of a mood–an intimate–lyrical mood in most cases. He composes cycles in which the meaning of the present and the eternal is philosophically explored. One such series consisting of seven landscapes is "My Homeland."

Sarian’s work is not limited to his paintings in oil and -later -tempera: he also drew a great deal and painted in watercolors. His sketches from life are outstanding. Sarian was famous for his book illustrations as well. In the 1930s he worked enthusiastically in graphics and did his illustrations for the works of Tumanian–Issahakian–Charents–and to the poem of Firdawsi "Shah-Nameh."


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