Artist Apo Torosyan’s Work to Touch Heart and Soul

Crescenta Valley Hamazkayin features "Bread Series" artist’s film Discovering My Father’s Village–shot when the artist returned to his father’s village in Turkey.

MONTROSE (Combined Sources)–Contemporary artist Apo Torosyan’s latest video–"Discovering My Father’s Village," will be shown on December 16 at the Crescenta Valley Armenian Center. The film opens with a narrated historical section–which includes eyewitness testimony on the genocide. Torosyan’s video and lecture presentation will also include his "Bread Series" works of art–which have been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad.

Torosyan’s 30-minute video–"Discovering My Father’s Village," was filmed on a trip to Turkey in September of 2003. The artist interviewed villagers and the last genocide survivor in his family–and combined the footage with historic background–music–and scenes of abandoned Armenian homes to create a "poetic documentary." In the film–three witnesses directly or indirectly talk about the genocide and discrimination against Armenia’s in Turkey.

One character in the film is the artist’s 90-year old aunt–Nazik. She recalls the bloody events in which her relatives and other youngsters around age 18 were killed by government-organized bandits.

In another segment of the interview–Nazik talks about the gold and jewelry that victims hid in their homes when they were forced to flee. These items were found by Turkish villagers when they moved into the deserted homes.

The second witness is an elderly villager named Hamza. He talks about recent economic difficulties in the village. He speaks with gratitude of how his parents and grandparents cashed in the gold and jewelry they found to survive over the past 20-30 years.

The third character in the film is a local Turkish historian. At one point–he talks about the bandits that existed in the area. In another segment–he shows today’s Turkish perspective about the history of Armenia’s. He discusses history with no basis in fact–but with organized misinformation.

A second-generation survivor of the Armenian genocide–Torosyan was born and raised in Istanbul–the son of an Armenian father and a Greek mother. Losing many family members in the genocide–the historic tragedy has greatly influenced his work.

Torosyan’s nationally known "Bread Series" embodies the artist’s personal history–similar to many others under similar circumstances. As Torosyan reflects on his work–he said–"My artwork has my personal history–which is similar to many others under similar circumstances. The bread–which is the staff of life–was taken away from my ancestors. It represents victims of oppression. They died in starvation–including my grandparents. I immortalize the bread within my concepts. It is an organic metaphor."

He quotes Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu–"We learn about the holocaust and other genocides so that we can be more gentle–more caring…valuing each person as being of infinite worth–so precious that we know that such atrocities will never happen again–and that the world will be a more humane place."

His work has been shown all over the US–Canada–and Europe–in museums–colleges–universities–and art institutions. Torosyan’s artworks are in the permanent collection of the Musee D’Art Moderne–Tonneins–Bordeaux–France–Flaten Art Museum–Northfield–MN–and the Armenian Library and Museum of America–Watertown–MA.

The event–organized by the Hamazkayin Crescenta Valley Arshile Gorky Chapter–will begin at 8 p.m. at Crescenta Valley Armenian Center–2633 Honolulu Ave.–in Montrose–CA. For more information–call (818) 248-1842 or (818) 248-1100.

Torosyan will also present a lecture and discussion about his "Bread Series" and "Immigration" Installation. His printmaking artworks will be available to the public.

The video or DVD "Discovering my Father’s Village" may also be purchased at Hairenik Bookstore–Watertown–MA–617-926-3947 or bookstore@hairenik.com; at ALMA–617-926-2562 or gary@armenianlibraryandmuseum.org; at Sardarabad Bookstore–818-500-0790 or books@sardarabad.org; or by contacting Apo at apotoros@comcast.net.

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