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Armenian artist who lives and works in Ukraine
From the diary of Boris Yegiazaryan:
“Oh God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in the name.”
Mariya VLAD presents her own view of Boris Yegiazaryan, an artist of Armenian descent who has lived in Ukraine for many years.
“…every tongue shall confess to God.”
Boris Yegiazaryan was born in Armenia. He was the first-born son to an Armenian family and he was the apple of the eye of his parents and of his grandparents. There were few constraints imposed on him and he was free to wander in the mountains in the vicinity of the village where his family lived. He watched the water sparkle in the nearby river — it was crystal clear, and the reflections of the light in the ripples on the water were mesmerizing. The river teemed with fish and their elegant movements gave him joy. Sometimes he even played hooky from school preferring to spend more time watching butterflies hovering over the flowers. All the manifestations of beauty in nature excited and inspired him.
And he tried to render this beauty in his drawings. He was so happy when once he was given a box of crayons of so many wonderful colours.
His ambition to become an artist grew stronger with every passing year and he left his village to study at art schools. And he did become an artist, though, of course, it is not the study that makes one an artist but the talent.
“When I was young I thought I was a great painter, but now I find I cannot do what I would like to do properly and ask God to give me guidance, to give me a spark of inspiration, to give me a speck of divine gift. When I start a painting, there’s a fear in me but faith too, and when I finish the painting I look at it and say, “Thank you, God, for helping me create this.”
When he was nineteen, Boris Yegiazaryan fell in love with a girl from Ukraine. They got married and alternated living in Kyiv and Yerevan. Their daughter Lusine brought so much joy and happiness to their family. But in the prime of her life “she was taken to Heaven. It is not for me to judge God’s ways,” said the artist. It was a devastating blow to Boris and his wife. Life seemed to come to an end. But their faith helped them retain the grip on life, helped Boris to return to creative work.
Boris Yegiazaryan is an ardent patriot, both Ukrainian and Armenian. His political stance in the Nagorno-Karabakh controversy landed him in trouble (Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan — tr.) but he did not change his views. At the time of the Orange revolution, he supported the “Orange” cause against corruption in the highest echelons of power and infringements on the right of free speech.
“I believe that Ukraine has a great potential and that it should make itself a fully-fledged European country. No matter how hard certain forces may try to return to the past, the wheels of history cannot be turned back. I am very optimistic about the future of Ukraine,” says Boris and adds, “I’ve even started thinking in Ukrainian, and I feel proud about it.”
about her father:
“I don’t quite know where to begin … He is an Armenian artist who lives in Kyiv. It is not so much his life that I want to talk about but his art. Why a boy from the village of Aparan in the Armenian mountains had an ambition to become an artist remains a mystery. Everything around him in his childhood — the scenic mountains, cold springs and gorgeous vistas — seemed to cry out to him “Paint! Create!” And he obeyed the call.
He began his studies in Yerevan, at the Terlemezyan Art School; he continued his studies at the Mukhinka Art School in St Petersburg, and then back in Yerevan at the Institute of Theatre Art and, finally, at the Academy of Art in Kyiv, from which he graduated in 1986. It was a long artistic odyssey which eventually took Yegiazaryan to his Ithaca — the land of fine art. As I see it, his works contain everything that is quintessentially Armenian, especially the colour. Oh, that Armenian colour — the expression, the wonder, the brightness of life. The piercing, sunshine colour of canvases where even deep blue in thick green bursts into flames! And there, amid the flames, the serenity of ancient miniatures and frescos which he loves can be discerned so much …
One of Yegiazaryan’s works is a white canvas with white paint — and the golden outline of a human figure. White is the colour of cleanliness and the figure is an ancient Christian picture on stone which the artist once saw.
Boris Yegiazaryan is a Ukrainian-Armenian artist. Kyiv has become his second home that inspires his creativity. In his works full of vivid colours, the velvet tones, the soft shadows and the fine, transparent layering are reflections of Ukraine. Boris has as many admirers and friends in Kyiv as he has in Yerevan. They live in his Armenian head and in his portraits. And the portraits he paints are always beautiful: Woman with the Crocuses, Young Girl with the Long Neck and Scottish Girl with a Violin are fine examples of his art. There are probably hundreds of his works hanging on the walls of private collections and museums all over the world. He shows his festive paintings at exhibitions in Greece, Switzerland, France, the USA and other countries.
An art critic once said that Yegiazaryan’s works are cheerful fairy tales. I do not agree. After all, he has not spent all his life in the seclusion of his studio. There have been many difficult and painful times in his life.
In the soviet times, he had trouble with the secret police because of his stance in the Karabakh conflict, with the KGB agents coming to his home where his wife was nursing their baby daughter. There was the worst nightmare of all artists: a fire in his studio, in which he lost 10 years worth of work. Through all these experiences, he found his way to God.
Boris does not paint fairy tales. He paints life! Love, Birth, A Wonderful Journey, Ponderings, Man: this is not the stuff of fairy tales.
The openness, joy and peace of his works reflect life as it should be, the life for which people are born. Yegiazaryan tries to show God’s love in his work; God’s love for the people.
Yegiazaryan reads the Bible every day trying to understand the world, God and humanity. This must be why it is so pleasant to see his works on walls — where his works are, there is the Lord’s Love: its purity, joyfulness and peace. As Boris likes to say about his own work, “Thanks be to God for all He has given me!”
All his life long man builds his house, the house made with hands — and the spiritual house he builds with his soul. It is what man is for, it is a manifestation of his creative potential, of his talent which has been given to him by God.
The Bible mentions two great construction efforts. One was the Tower of Babel whose construction was prompted by man’s pride. The Tower was destroyed and the consequences of it were horrifying. The other one was the building of the Arc of Noah with Faith, Love, Wisdom, Humility and Family Unity. It was the House of Salvation, the House of Joy of Faith, the boat-house built by the human hands as a spiritual endeavour of Faith, Courage and Love of God.
What does every one of us, every family, every community build? The Tower of Babel or the Arc of Noah? Man has a creative power — the material for construction – and his own will power. Everything comes from God — but the final choice is man’s.
When Noah went down from the mountain, the sun was shining; the first green shoots have appeared after the Flood. But the earth was still cold and it was necessary to give it warmth. God gave man the warmth of the sun, but it is man himself who has to give warmth to earth — the warmth of his hands. Noah planted grapevines, took in the crop and the earth became warmer.
All the spiritual and natural riches that Ukraine has can easily charm non-Ukrainians.
It is time to plant grapevines and make wine of life which will give warmth to the soul — may man thank God for his existence, for unconditional love and life eternal.
Alexander Men’ (Russian Orthodox priest, famous for his books and preaching, whose murder remains unsolved — tr.) in his exegesis of The Book of The Revelation of Saint John says that we have to confess our sins before God and man every day and do it in such a manner as though it were the last day of our life; at the same time we should create as though we had an Eternity to live. I find it to be a very optimistic thought.
Back in the 1960s, the Ukrainian poet Borys Korniyenko who was twenty-years old then, wrote, “If my native land freezes, I will bring it back to life by the warmth of my hands.”
In the winter of 2004, (during the Orange revolution — tr.) young men and women spent their days and nights in their tents on the cold ground (in protest against the rigged elections — tr.) in the central squares of Ukrainian cities giving the earth the warmth of their bodies and souls. And the land of Ukraine did become warmer.
Later, these young people said, “Now it is the time to build, to create!”
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes, 3:1)
This spring I saw many more pregnant in the streets than ever before. They looked so beautiful. They had a faith in the future, they wanted children, they wanted their families grow and they wanted the great family of their country grow too. But in their eyes I often saw the mute question, “Will the grapevines of life be planted?”
an award-winning writer
from Santa Fe, USA:
“Boris Yegiazaryan has been said to approach the canvas as a mature artist with the sweet and innocent perspective of child, or conversely, as an exuberant and playful child with an old man’s wise vision and appreciation of beauty. Either way, Yegiazaryan’s paintings combine seemingly simple yet sophisticated designs, with vibrant colour and life. Employing distinctive personal repertoire of symbols and recurring motifs, his work is utterly contemporary, yet imbued with a sense of timelessness.
Yegiazaryan was born in the Armenian hill village Aparan, later studied at some most distinguished art schools in the former Soviet Union. After achieving a high degree of technical mastery in graphic design and realist painting, in the early 1990s he shifted away from strict realism in his art. He began turning instead to the realm of childhood memory and joyful simplicity. Themes of motherhood, family, community, music, security, warmth and love reflect the artist’s deep roots in Armenian Christianity, and his personal standards of kindness and gratitude.
In fact, three cultural traditions find expression in Yegiazaryan’s work. From Armenia comes the intensity of colour associated with a southern climate and tradition of miniaturist painting. From the great heritage of ancient icons come aspects of composition, the use of gold leaf, and a sense of triumphant joy. And a soft tenderness in the figures’ features can be traced to the inspiration of Russian classical art. Uniting these diverse qualities is a distinctly modernist touch, often incorporating geometric elements and a deliberate simplicity of style.
Yegiazaryan’s creative portfolio includes fresco, mural painting, stained glass, sculpture, collage, and poetry. But it is his passionately spirited and engaging oil and water-colour painting that constitutes the literal and figurative heart of his career.
The Family at the Pomegranate Tree.
“I am six months old; a girl next
Sisters. From Recollection of Childhood Cycle.
The One-year-old Artist Under the Mulberry Tree.
My Daughter Lusine.