Armenian Modern Art Great Hakob Hakobian Dies


Hakob Hakobian

YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Renowned Armenian painter Hakob Hakobian died on March 9 of a heart attack. He was 89.

Born in Egypt, Hakobian repatriated to Soviet Armenia in 1962, where he later earned a “People’s artist” title. “A Woman Frying Fish,” “Spring,” “The Village of Malishka” are among his best-known paintings.

Hakobian was laid to rest on Tuesday, March 12. A government commission headed by Prime Minister Tigran Sargisian was appointed to organize the artist’s funeral.

President Serge Sargisian issued a letter of condolence on the death of Hakobian, who had received the title of People’s Artist of Armenia. “Hakob Hakobian’s death is a major loss for Armenia’s artistic life. As a unique artist and exemplary citizen he arrived in his homeland as a well-known artist with a recognizable style. He came here to reveal a new Armenia and secured a permanent place in the history of his country’s art,” President Sargisian said in his letter, further commiserating with the artist’s family and admirers.

Hakobian was born in Egypt to parents who had fled the Armenian Genocide. He was educated at the Melkonian Educational Institute in Cyprus. He left Egypt for Soviet Armenia in 1962, staying there until his death.

His art is currently part of a new exhibition of Soviet and contemporary art from Central Asia and the Caucasus that opened just four days before his death at the Sotheby’s auction house in London called “At The Crossroads: Contemporary Art From The Caucasus And Central Asia.

Henrik Igityan, founder of the first Museum of Modern Art in the USRR once described Hakobian’s art “quite accesible, while demanding deep penetration and complexity,” according to Sotheby’s catalogue notes on Hakobian written by Sabina Sadova. “Hakobyan introduced a new facet to Armenian art, a facet that makes him powerful from colorists.”

More from Sotheby’s catalogue notes: “His palette is calm and dominated by muted ochres and brown hues. His linear, mostly vertical calculated compositions convey feelings of displacement, nostalgia and muteness. Hakobyan’s motifs contain none of the traditional Armenian elements as established by Saryan, though the feelings expressed by his works intimately reflect the feelings of Armenians towards their land and their turbulent past. His works exude a very contemporary feel.” “…there is a language of symbols that the artist develops in order to construct his own version of Armenian national identity. The road is a symbol that carries a special meaning to the Armenian people. It illustrates the history of frequent and forced resettlement that shaped Armenian identity. The mathematical precision of Hakobian’s art is perhaps as important for its understanding as the symbols he uses. The road and the pole are present in most of Hakobian’s landscapes in both his early and late periods.”

Hakobian was also featured in the 2009 film “Armenian Exile” by Canadian-Armenian Hagop Goudsouzian. “I also don’t know what Armenian means,” he tells the camera, “yet I am Armenian. It wasn’t my decision. It’s nature’s decision, a decision that took thousands of years.”

The analysis also states, “The horizontal flatness and openness of the space of landscape reveals an almost Renaissance mathematical study of perspective mixed with Japanese elements in the construction of depth. Space in Hakobian’s works appears as a vacuum, a sharp contrast to the sunlit expanses and fresh air of Saryan’s works. This vacuum is perhaps one of the most important features of Hakobian’s art.” (Reports from ArmeniaNow, Ianyan Magazine, Sotheby’s and PanArmenian.net were used in this story.)