Sunday, 19 March 2017


“I think that the memory of Armenia’s genocide opened my eyes at an early age to the existence of political cynicism.” - Serj Tankian 

Minas Avetisyan (July 20, 1928 — February 24, 1975) was an Armenian painter, graphic artist and theatrical artist. Avetisyan was born in the village of Jajur, Soviet Armenia. His mother, Sofo, was a daughter of the priest from Kars. His father, Karapet, was a smith from Mush. His wife was Gayane Mamajanyan.

Avetisyan studied at Terlemezyan College of Fine Arts in Yerevan (1947–1952), Yerevan Fine Arts and Theatre Institute (1952–1954), and the Painting, Sculpture and Architecture Institution ‘Ilya Repin’ in Leningrad (1955–1959), where his main teacher was Boris Ioganson. From 1960 on Avetisyan lived in Yerevan.

The main theme of his works was Armenian nature, the nature of Jajur, religious subjects, the life of the poor people, mountains, fields and the changes of landscape in the various seasons. Avetisyan emerged as an artist at the “Exhibition of Five” in Yerevan (1962). Numerous specialists and visitors to the exhibition appreciated his work greatly.

Avetisian’s technique differed from the method of plein-air painting which was once widespread in Armenian art. For him working from nature was no more than a preliminary stage, and the main portion of the work on the canvas being done in his studio. In 1967, he first appeared on film in the censored and suppressed documentary “The Colour of Armenian Land” by his friend Mikhail Vartanov.

In 1975, Avetisyan died under the wheels of the car, which stopped off at the sidewalk. Although the official versionof his death was quoted as an unfortunate accident, some sources maintain that he was murdered by the KGB.

Avetisyan’s work is characterised by seemingly wild brush work and strident colours, inspired by the work of the fauves. Some South Caucasian Medieval traditional art can also be seen to influence his work. In his canvases, one sees intense colour saturation juxtaposed with dramatic and bold shapes.  Even when painting landscapes, Avetisyan broke through to q freedom of aesthetical self-expression, approaching the contemporary Russian “rough style”, even though in general he was more sympathetic to to the French modern and early avant-garde style of the early 20th century. Minas was also a success as a theatrical artist (theatre set design of Khachaturian’s “Gayane” ballet at the Opera and Ballet Theatre, 1974) and as a monumental painter (factory interior wall-paintings in Leninakan- Gyumri, 1970-1974).

The painting above from 1961 is titled “Toujours vie” (Still Life) and shows the fauve/expressionistic style of Avetisyan’s work. Unfortunately, many of the artist’s paintings were destroyed in a fire in 1972. On January 1 during the night, while Avetisyan was in Jajur with his family, his studio in Yerevan burned down, along with many of his best canvases. Three years later, in 1975 part of his wall-paintings were destroyed during the earthquake in Leninakan (Gyumri) and also destroyed the Minas Avetisian museum in his native Jajur village.

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