Two months after the Union of Painters honored
his 80th birthday and nearly as many years as
a respected artist, painter Tigran Tokmajyan has
been banned by a local government from using his
Komitas Avenue studio.
Tokmajyan, by State authority an "Honored
Painter of Armenia", has been ordered to
"cease work on wood, to use etching machine
and make other suchlike illegal things in the
apartment 40 located in Komitas Avenue 19"
according to a document signed by Arabkir Community
head Levon Harutyunyan.
As of October 6, his studio has been off limits.
The studio is used by Tokmajyan and his daughter,
Arpi, also a painter. Neither does woodcrafts,
but complaints by a neighbor convinced Harutyunyan
otherwise, even though an inspector found no evidence
of woodworking equipment in the studio.
Slanderous letters from Julia Harutyunyan (no
relation to the district head), a neighbor in
the building who is an attorney, claim that day
and night her "uneducated neighbors disrupt
calm regularly making noise, using devices for
woodwork and turning their apartment into joinery".
Harutyunyan began filing complaints with community
authorities soon after the Tokmajyans opened their
studio four years ago.
Several times, inspectors followed up on the
complaints with visits to the studio, but none
reported any woodworking machinery, only brushes,
easels, and a hand-turned (non-electric) etching
Arpi Tokmajyan says that if there is noise from
the studio it is from making the mold on which
to stretch canvasses or from occasionally putting
nails for hanging paintings.
"In every house people hammer nails into
walls but if someone loudly talks or makes noise
in the doorway then they say that we did it,"
Painter of Armenia is in trouble due to
"creativity" of the local officials.
Haykaz Karapetyan, one of the district employees
sent to inspect the studio, reported that he sat
in Julia Harutyunyan's apartment and that he heard
disturbing noise from the Tokmajyan studio. The
same inspector said he found "tools"
in the studio, which he itemized as "brushes
Further, the community employed lawyer Karapetyan
says that the "Honored Painter" is "just
a colorer, a house painter, who paints walls.
Painters do the same."
A district associate of Levon Harutyunyan said
Tokmajyan would be allowed to use the studio if
he promises not to make noise.
Arpi Tokmajyan says there was no noise to begin
with, and she suspects that in shutting down the
studio, district officials are trying to gain
good graces with Julia Harutyunyan, whose son-in-law
holds a position in the Armenian Court of Appeal
(from whom officials might one day need favors).
"One has the impression that in our own
apartment we don't paint but commit crimes or
we opened a brothel here, and the district's Head
Office writes reports concerning our activities,"
says Arpi Tokmajyan.
Meanwhile, it is known that in the same district,
Levon Harutyunyan has been renovating an apartment
for six months. Neighbors complain among themselves
about the constant noise, and wonder aloud why
the Tokmajyan's studio was shut down.
The vice-head of Arabkir Community was asked
to comment on the apparent discrepancy in noise
The District Head "is allowed to do everything,"
said vice-head Eduard Musheghyan. "If you
can afford to do a renovation, you can do it."
The Tokmajyans have appealed to the Union of
Painters, the Ministry of Culture and have hired
a lawyer to help solve the situation.