Khachaturyan-inspired paintings include
this one of the slaves in the ballet "Spartak".
The 100th anniversary of the birth of Armenian
composer Aram Khachatryan is being celebrated
in many nations of the world by many musicians.
But honor for the musical genius is not exclusive
to notes on a score. An Armenian painter has transformed
musical notes into brush strokes.
With gentle color contrasts of watercolor and
pastels, using light and rich tints, artist Sukias
Torosyan combines the music of the composer with
the images of a painter.
Torosyan has created a 32-piece series that draw
reference from three major Khachatryan compositions:
"Gayane", "Masquerade" and
The painter's own musical roots go deep. "I
was three when I got up on stage (to perform in
opera and ballets) for the first time. That was
when I also heard and painted Khachatryan,"
Meeting the composer left an eternal imprint
in the painter's mind.
"He had a proud figure, slender, lively,
but when he saw children he would become childish
and on a par with them in their carefree pranks."
painter's portrait of the composer.
Mentally, the painter replayed each Khachatryan
note. The composer is, for him, a phenomenon born
from the ashes of Armenia's brutal history of
the early last century.
"During the time when our nation seemed
to have fallen on its knees, with his art he proved
to the world that we have an unlimited power to
keep on living," says Torosyan.
"Dance of the Swords" (from "Gayane"),
Khachataryan's most famous piece, gets a special
treatment by the painter. Instead of the famous
ballet scene of boys with swords, Torosyan portrayed
the process of making wine in the arms of heavenly
"What can be more dynamic, full of life,
masculine and at the same time crystal clear,
than the making of wine," he explains.
The jealousy scene of the ballet is also peculiar,
where that feeling is portrayed as an enormous
red-hot lump and under its destructive impact
veiled with mysterious sorrow people become evil,
cold and unsubstantial, then freeze and vanish.
"Through the painter's art works of the
great composer become more accessible and perceivable,
because while listening to the music all the images
take shape in one's mind. In this case the characters
were embodied in canvas, they became visible and
tangible," says a 5th year student of the
Conservatory Hrayr Martirosyan.
The painting of 44-year old Torosyan has shared
other artistic expression, such as directing,
stage decoration and caricature.
painter has been a fan of the composer since
When he was young Torosyan, as a superior student,
was sent to study at Leningrad Academy of Arts.
But it was not a suitable fit for the artist.
"My unusual and non-standard mentality
was unacceptable for the Soviet regime,"
he says. "So one day I was told I'm a surrealist
and what they needed was academic painters."
Upon returning to Yerevan the young painter continued
his studies at Yerevan Art Academy, at the same
time doing stage decorations at State Opera and
Ballet Theatre named after Spendiaryan.
"Opera is a mixture of arts, where all types
of art are combined, where singing crosses with
dancing and music crosses with theatre,"
says the painter.
In 1997 Torosyan expressed his new word in theatre
art, by presenting an unprecedented improvised
performance of synthetic art.
His first was a composition done with extracts
of the opera "Carmen" and Spanish folk
music, to the accompaniment of People's Artist
of Armenia Hovik Divanyan was doing dance improvisations.
On big canvasses placed on the stage Torosyan
created color and image compositions consistent
with music and the mood of the moment.
by the ballet "Spartak", Torosyan's
painting also depicts Armenia's fight for
independence, and enough lost lives, the
painter says to make a mountain like Ararat.
"Everything is created under the influence
of a moment, we know what we want, we have the
concept, but all of that gets more meaning through
improvisation," says the painter.
The performance had also great success in Beirut
and Syria. In 1998 the painter produced a new
performance based on Mozart's "Requiem"
and dedicated it to the 10 anniversary of the
1988 Spitak earthquake and through the art of
dance and painting he "tried to defeat death".
According to the concept of performance the idea
of defeating death was expressed through colors.
There were two canvasses on stage, a black and
a white one. At the end of performance the black
one gets covered with bright and lively colors
and merges with the eternal purity of the white.
"We did not sell tickets for this performance,
instead we asked people to bring children's books
which we afterwards gave to the children of Gyumri
and Spitak," says Torosyan.
"The imagination of Torosyan creates surprising
ideas and while watching his paintings I can hear
the music flowing out of them," says Divanyan.
According to him each image of the painter is
an ideologically inexhaustible source of dance
The master of painting and performance showed
his worth also in the sphere of caricature. During
the past eight years his works were published
in Azg and Aravot news dailies, under the nickname
Toto. According to the painter caricature has
to show the words and problems between the lines
or hidden in most deep pleats of the human brain.
The cartoons of Toto, a member of Eurohumor are
shown in Belgium, Japan, Netherlands, Germany
and other countries..
"Different branches of art have merged in
Sukias in a surprising way. His humor makes you
laugh continuously, but after understanding the
essence and depth of his works, one becomes sad.
It is given from above only to talented people,"
says art critic Grigor Saribekyan.