Martiros Sarian

He belonged to the generation of masters at the turn of the XX century, but was equally our contemporary. His creative works kept pace with the times, losing not their freshness and never stopping to live. Moreover, his buoyant art seems to be looking at us from the future, at a time when mankind in experiencing the heavy strain of the present times.

After all, art is man himself, the incarnation of his spiritual world, his feelings and tendencies. Martiros Sarian is still for a great many people a fragrant memory. And most of us are indeed happy that we had known Sarian _ the man.

The main features of Sarian’s individuality are his love of life and patriotism. His pantheistic feelings, his inclination for nature showed to be taking shape in his early childhood. At times, when he was asked to explain the reason of his longevity, he answered with a childish spontaneity: “I have done no harm to nature”.

Just a few days prior to his death, he said: “Life resembles to an island. People come out of the sea, pass over the island and merge into the sea again”.

Sarian was destined to sea his glory. People who knew him were surprised at his attitude towards his glory. Happiness, he thought, was not limited to the satisfaction of one’s own personal tendencies. He lived in his private residence, in his museum, alloted to him by the government in his life time. He would have lived in the same way in his parental hut, or, say, under a tent in nature. He world never change this naturality by anything else. Sarian’s concept of glory was to see and depict the “miracle of life, its beauty”.

TALES AND DREAMS – 1904-1908

The works created by Sarian when still a student at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, indicate his professional maturity and the deep respect for his remarkable teachers V. Serov and K. Korovin.

The path chosen by a real artist is mostly predetermined by his memories of childhood. Sarian was born in the town of Nor-Nakhichevan, on the banks of the River Don, and had spent his childhood at the farm of his father, away from the town. The family of Sarians, as well as thousands of other Armenian refugees, had migrated from the ancient Armenian capital town of Ani to the Crimea, and from the Crimea to the banks of the River Don during the reign of Ekaterina II, and continued to live there with their traditional, simple, patriarchal way of life.

The acquaintance of the young painter with his native lend, - a painter who was still alient to the urban way of life, watching the reality simplemindedly, getting fascinated by the beauties of nature, - resutled in giving shape to Sarian’s creative “self ”, and spontaneously gave rise to the series of his own creative works in the form of the so-called “Tales and Dreams”.

Among them one can came across to a one eyed creature (“A Comet”). According to the painter’s testimony, it is he himself who appears in the pictures as a poet enjoying the boundless beauty of space. In the picture “By the Sea-side. A Sphynx”, the Egyptian sphynx is represented by a woman whose body is fused with the earth. Her image embodies the idea of Mother-Nature.

In the “Tales” of 1905-1908, painted in tempera, he had introduced something new. In the pictures “The Charms of the Sun”, “The Pomegranate-tree”, “The Panthers”, “A Hot Day. By the Well”, “By the Sea-side. A Sphynx”, the color-light atmosphere of the images takes an expressive significance thanks to the contrasting harmonies of the colour. The most dominant feature of these works is the burning light, radiating as if from the depth of the canvas, as the strongest impression borne upon the painter from his native nature. This light seemed to by something unreal and unbelievable in its own time. However, it was this very feature that predetermined the originality of Sarian as the master-painter of a country blessed by the blazing sun.

The Sarianic “Dream” is the expression of natural and sacred human feelings. And the most sacred feeling for the painter was his link with his native land, a land which existed from him and his people as a bright dream.

Sarian’s “Dream” had another source, as well. In those years he had made a close acquaintance with his great compatriots including the poets Hovhanness Tumanian, Avetik Issahakian, Vahan Terian, the architects Toros Toramanian, Alexander Tamanian, the well-known revolutionary Alexander Myasnikian, with whom he had shared the same room and in 1909 had chosen him as a model for such a significant picture as “The Agriculturist” which has not, unfortunately been preserved.