Sarian and Sarkis Two Armenia’s in Cte d’Azure

By Dickran Kouymjian

PARIS (International Press Service)–Along with a major exhibit of works by Martiros Sarian–arguably the greatest painter produced on Armenian soil in the 20th century–a smaller exhibit of French artist Sarkis will run from 28 June to 5 October in one of France’s most famous museum–the Picasso Museum in Chteau Grimaldi in Antibes-Juan-les-Pins–just 15 miles west of Nice on the famous Cte d’Azure. Sarkis’s show is titled "L’Atterrissage Adagio."

A native of Istanbul–Sarkis (Zabounyan) is considered one of France’s greatest conceptual artists–though he admits not liking the word "conceptual." Two art works that invoke nostalgia and memory–comprise his exhibit. One is an eight foot long dress suspended from the ceiling–sewn by the stylist Domenika in 2000. It is a highly charged and colorful affair made up of many smaller robes and objects.

The other creation is a complex structure featuring a television screen that plays a 37 minute film shot in Sarkis’s studio in 1990. The TV monitor is "dressed" with an enormous 15 foot Anatolian kilim. The film shows a large loud speaker in the artist’s Paris studio–topped by a large amorphous terra cotta statue vaguely representing a female figure. It is encrusted–in Paradjanov style–with an enormous variety of "objets trouvs," discarded items: film–candle–matchbox–canisters–basket–and so forth. There is a single legend on the lower part of the statue–Kriegsschatz–"war treasure," one of Sarkis’s favorite notions. Dimitri Shostakovitch’s 15th Quartet serves as the film’s soundtrack.

Along with the exhibition–the Picasso Museum is also hosting a "Workshop of Watercolor Painting," conceived by Sarkis a few years ago for children–and presented throughout a number of museums in France and other European countries. Large white ceramic bowls of Chinese inspiration are filled with water and placed on long wooden tables. Next to each is a paint brush and water colors. With the some initial guidance from adults–the young artists are allowed to mix colors drop by drop and watch their slow diffusion in transparent liquid.

Together–space–watercolor–music–the hallmarks of Sarkis–are a pendant to the extraordinary explosion of color characteristic of Sarian’s great oil paintings. With the blue Mediterranean and the southern sun–the double "S" Armenian art exhibit promises to be a unique event.

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