06 November 2014, 15:50
2098 |

Carving Out Yerevan's Contemporary Sculpture Scene

Anyone who has been to Yerevan can tell you that the city is full of sculptures. Just Cascade alone offers a rich variety of statues and figures, both modern and classical, that are beautiful, strange and, yes, at times a bit difficult to understand. Intrigued by this slightly archaic art form, we recently sat down with five different sculptors and asked them to describe their work. Many topics were covered, including the idea of placing a forty meter bronze statue on Northern Avenue in the city center. Most importantly, however, the artists discussed what it’s like to sculpt in the 21st century, and the continuous struggle of creating art in Yerevan.

Sargis Babayan
28 years old

Yerevan helps me to produce. Location doesn’t matter much though—if a person is constantly searching, he will be able to garner inspiration. There are many modern sculptors in Yerevan who are full of ideas. They are capable of producing pieces that are innovative and interesting, works that might even be displayed in the city. For the most part, however, these artists are not given the opportunity.

A sculpture is more difficult to feel and understand than, say, a piece of music. The public has to put in effort in order to comprehend the artwork’s full meaning. When a person sees a sculpture, everything in him ought to change—this is the challenge put before the sculptor. Besides finding an intelligent solution for the material, a sculptor must also transfer emotions and spirit onto his creation.

Of course, I would like to create a piece for Yerevan; there is no soldier who does not dream of becoming a general. This task bears a lot of responsibility though—to influence generations, act as a stepping stone for future creators who will then sculpt their own values. 

We just graduated from the Fine Arts Academy and don’t have a studio, but that is a problem that can be solved.

 

Argishti Harutyunyan
31 years old 

Since a sculptor’s work has to do with material and volume, the world around us serves as continual inspiration. A painter cannot create anything if he isn’t amazed or harbors no questions. I can’t limit myself to Yerevan; I am inspired by the whole world. In my studio in Kanakeravan, away from the capital’s noise, I can give life to my inspirations.

There are monuments everywhere in the city, but these are not sculptures. In fact, Yerevan has a serious deficiency of real sculpture. Unfortunately people show no resistance against what is bad, distasteful and a model of incompetence. There are very few who can give a professional opinion, and do.

If I had the opportunity to create a sculpture for Yerevan, the first thing I would consider is the city’s folklore. I would use our traditional, architectural forms and put a huge, forty meter bronze sculpture on Northern Avenue. Cars would be able to drive under it, and the form would symbolize freedom and the issues we deal with in our modern world.

I’m not the kind of Armenian who worships Yerevan. Interestingly, I don’t feel proud of this city, but I do love Armenia. Art was developed in our culture based on the foundations of religion, meaning the church acted as patron. This kind of platform limited artists from creating “outside the box”, but that’s precisely what I want to promote in Armenia—thinking that is not limited by structures.

People don’t change, but art does. It changes its form and sustains only a single truth: a feeling that cannot be written in books and that is born with the individual. I would really like for there to be something like French Bohemia in Armenia. We have people in Yerevan who can develop that lifestyle, but art is suffocated here because the government does everything in its power to ensure that artists feel humiliated. This treatment doesn’t create the right atmosphere—the number of good sculptures won’t increase. 

 

Ashot Grigoryan
27 years old

I walk through Yerevan as a regular citizen. Even when I see a sculpture I try to evaluate the work with the eyes of an average viewer. Later, I inspect the piece as a professional—try to see what’s what, and understand how I might learn from it, or what inspiration I can draw.

A few years ago a statue of Fridtjof Nansen by our professor Garegin Davtyan was put up in the city. That piece seems very original to me. Of the classical works, I have always found David of Sassoun and Tamanyan’s statue to be very special. I don’t accept the style that they call “Yerevan”. A person must simply create honestly, and try to engage the viewer’s emotional world. When a sculpture is placed somewhere in the city it is no longer seen as a separate piece. It becomes a part of the whole picture. For examples Rodin’s “The Painter” that is placed near the Opera, really has nothing to do with that space. Rodin’s piece should be in a museum. One ought to have contact with it and observe it from up close.

I’m not ready yet, and don’t really have the desire, to create something for Yerevan. It’s an issue of time, really. We sculptors serve some function. Through our exhibitions we try to educate people on our world view. We try to give them an artistic breath.

 

Gevork Tadevosyan
28 years old

I’m from Vanadzor and I can say that it was Yerevan that made me develop when I moved here at the age of seventeen. This city gave me everything in my life; it changed my awareness and my emotional world. I found people here with whom I could talk endlessly about books, film and music. 

A person ought to see a sculpture and feel that life has changed, similar to how you feel after reading a book or hearing a good song. However, you can’t express everything through a sculpture. Even Michelangelo, who was a genius, depicted many things on canvas or by his pen. There’s no need to yell something that ought to be said in a whisper. 

Bach said, “If my music pleases you, then excuse me, for I am working pointlessly”. If an artwork doesn’t better its viewer by at least one drop, then we’re kidding ourselves. Depicted in one of Matisse’s works is a certain view from a window. I have sculpted Matisse sitting in the art studio located on the other side of that window. Matisse inspires me to work and this was a unique way of self-expression.

In terms of composition, Yerevan is growing poor. The city is so interesting though—you have to be able to present yours so that it can become everyone’s.

 

Gegham Abrahamyan
25 years old

I still haven’t figured out that specific, global purpose that I’m supposed to fulfill as a sculptor. I am captivated by volume, light, mood and nerves. At first I liked sculpture subconsciously. However as I got older, began to interact with professional sculptors, I came to understand what it was that I had chosen as my life’s path. You can’t teach art. The artist is born from interactions, words, and the transfer of experiences.

As I walk through Yerevan I am always observing, noticing, and thinking deeply—in my mind I am always a sculptor. There are some sculptures that are obviously unnecessary in our city. There are also real works of art. I have my own large pieces that I would like to see in the streets of Yerevan someday. However, I can’t imagine where in the city they could go. There is no stable environment anywhere, and a sculpture should complement its space, create a harmony and a certain atmosphere. Today, that atmosphere is completely destroyed in Yerevan. If a given piece is a serious work of art, then it should suit the city it’s in.

I don’t accept the “Yerevan” characterization. If you are an artist and try, through your work, to express universal feeling and experience, then you cannot give your work an urban slant. When you listen to Komitas, you feel the Armenian in it. However, that is not done on purpose. The feeling is a call of the blood through which universal sentiments are expressed. Yerevan doesn’t inspire me. Rather I am inspired by my friends, discussions, wind, rain—all that I feel and can transfer through my work. 

In Armenia sculptors don’t receive enough money to have their own studios, to work and study in the right light. Rodin didn’t create sculptures immediately; he worked long and hard in order to achieve results. 

 

Yerevan Magazine, N9, 2014

Այս հոդվածի հայերեն տարբերակի համար սեղմեք այստեղ։

 

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