baking heat of the sun radiates in a uniquely
Armenian way from pictures that line the walls
of Martiros Saryan's house-museum. There is charm
and excitement in these canvases, which bathe
the viewer with optimism.
The director of Picasso's museum Jean Louie Andral
experienced these emotions in 2001 when visiting
a selection of Russian exhibits organized in Bordeaux,
France. A few of Saryan's works were included
in the collection. Andral recalls: "What
flames come from this canvas, who is the creator?"
Astonished by the artist's sunny colors Jean
Louie Andral immediately got in touch with the
Martiros Saryan museum in Yerevan.
"We met last year and became acquainted.
He saw all of Saryan's paintings and was shocked.
At the end, we signed a contract for the organization
of Saryan's exhibition at the Picasso museum in
Antibes, in the south of France," says 67-year-old
Shahen Khachatryan, director of the Saryan museum
and himself an honored artist.
Posters for the "Country of the Flying Sun"
exhibition, which will open on June 27, will be
posted widely and Armenia will gain new recognition
through Saryan. The exhibition will continue until
Khachatryan says: "We aim to exhibit the
young Saryan - how he developed, the way he chose
to reveal his bright individuality by means of
Sixty six of the 80 works to be taken to France
are paintings and 14 are graphics. The Saryan
Museum is providing 40 of the exhibits, with 12
paintings being contributed by the National Gallery
in Yerevan. Six canvases will come from the Tretyakov
Gallery in Moscow and three from the Russian Museum
in Saint Petersburg. Single paintings are also
being sent from London and Paris.
"The collected works will wholly represent
the master's character. In particular, his early
works will be exhibited, which form the height
of Saryan's art," notes Khachatryan.
master's works can be divided into three periods.
The first from 1903-1909 was called by Saryan
"Dreams and Fairy Tales." The second
one until 1920 was dominated by his emotional
reaction to the 1915 Armenian Genocide. The final
period until his death in 1972.
Khachatryan says Saryan entered the world fine
arts' movement with his early works. "He
aimed not only to return to the traditions of
national painting, but he also brought the national
art to European parameters."
The exhibition in France will be the biggest
single collection of Saryan's work abroad since
1986, when a display was organized in Germany,
and before that in 1980 at the Pompidou Center
in Paris. Works from his pre- and post revolution
periods, including many of his works from the
Soviet time, were mainly exhibited.
Khachatryan notes that Saryan's paintings reflecting
Soviet ideology were mainly sent for exhibitions
abroad. It was restricted to exhibit many his
"In 1962 when I was working in the National
Gallery I included one of Saryan's canvases in
the exhibition. The management got a heart attack.
They told me: 'Take it off.' I was crying because
of this cruel restriction," Khachatryan says.
Saryan himself was patient, but the road of his
life was rather harsh. He underwent the upheavals
of genocide, war, Stalin's repression, criticism,
and threats. The museum director recalls: "The
Government was saying 'we will starve him with
the ruble'. But the master was optimistic and
his art never reflected harsh reality."
There were two painters hidden in the personality
of Martiros Saryan tied to each other till the
last days of his life. One was a soaring eagle
and the other an artist standing on his native
soil and dreaming for the spring in his homeland.
This is how Shahen Khachatryan characterizes Saryan.
He has worked in the museum since the day of its
foundation in 1967 by at the request of the great
master. Director says he has been dreaming to
organize such an exhibition for 35 years.
"We couldn't do such a thing by our own
resources to make Armenia better known to the
world. I am happy that the genuine and true Saryan
is finally being exhibited during my lifetime.
Without this occasion, the work of my life would
remain only on the narrow national level,"
says Khachatryan with pride.
French partners will cover all of the exhibition
costs. The paintings will be insured for $18-20
million and $150-200,000 will be spent on promotional
material including exhibition catalogs, posters,
and TV and radio broadcasts.
Gevorg Gyarakyan, a prominent Armenian painter,
says: "Armenia has several titans worthy
of being exhibited abroad: Martiros Saryan is
one of them. There is so much color and light
in his paintings that it amazes at all times."
The visual language of Saryan is gorgeous. It
reveals the warm light that characterizes Orient
through the secrets of his constructions.
"Saryan is the Fauvist of the Orient, the
expressionist of the Orient. Every visitor coming
to the exhibition will immediately compare the
master to painters familiar to him," says
Among French painters, he considers Matisse to
be close to Saryan, but says Matisse separated
the cream from the milk while Saryan left them
both mixed in. The master made light the determinant.
Whenever light is strong, color is strong as well.
Saryan's paintings are bright fairy-tales where
everything is perfect lines, colors, tones, structure.
He added the inner world of his emotions to his