Monday, April 20, 2015

Martiros Saryan

Egyptian masks
tempera on cardboard
70 x 82 cm
location unknown

Martiros Saryan (1880-1972) was a major Armenian painter, the founder of the Armenian national school of painting. He was born into an Armenian family in Nakhichevan-on-Don. He received training in painting at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture (1897-1903) and then worked in the studios of noted painters. Soon he became a member of a group of Moscow Symbolist artists, and he began exhibiting his brightly coloured paintings. He was heavily influenced by the work of Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.

From 1910 to 1913 he traveled extensively in Turkey, Egypt and Iran. These trips inspired a series of large, frescolike works in which he attempted to communicate the sensuousness of the Middle Eastern landscapes. He also incorporated into a number of his paintings the Persian motifs he had seen in the Middle East. In 1921 he moved to Yerevan, where he organized and became director of the museum of archaeology, ethnography, and fine arts now called the National Gallery of Armenia. He thereafter spent most of his career painting scenes, especially landscapes, of his adopted homeland, often employing the Impressionist technique of using vivid, dappled colour to capture the effects of light. He also painted many floral still lifes as well as portraits. He served as a deputy to the second, third, and fourth convocations of the U.S.S.R.’s Supreme Soviet (the country’s highest legislative body). Among his awards were three Orders of Lenin.