Ashod Zorian Paintings Donated to the Armenian National Gallery


zorian-2By Nair Yan

YEREVAN (Azg) – Fifty-eight paintings by Egyptian-Armenian painter Ashod Zorian (1905-1970) were brought to Armenia’s National Picture Gallery by Edmond Y. Azadian this October. Azadian had written about Zorian’s works in the 1960s, while the artist was still living. He explained about Zorian’s past. The artist’s talent evinced itself early on, as he made carvings on tree trunks as a child. He served art at the price of remaining hungry or even martyrdom. Nature was Zorian’s first teacher.

Zorian’s father was a prosperous lawyer. He remembered how the Turks came and took his father, placing him on a horse, supposedly to save him. In fact, he was killed later. A Kurdish family adopted Zorian and his sister, turning them into a shepherd and maid, respectively. Later Turks adopted them, and gave Ashod the name Huseyin. His mother gave him some gold, saying that you will need them, my son. Ashod managed to save these coins until the end of his life, always keeping them in his pocket, and fearing the Turks might still come to take them. His mind started to go at the end of his life.

When Armenian orphans began to be assembled throughout the world, the rich offered to provide money for talented orphans to be sent to Europe to study. Zorian was one of these, and afterwards came to Egypt and again was supported by rich Armenians.
In Egypt, when state exhibitions were held, there were only one or two Arab painters of note, and these were Zorian’s students. The remainder were all Armenians, and Zorian was the most talented of the latter. He was always highlighted in the Egyptian press. He led the way for another generation of Armenian artists.

After the former queen of Egypt was divorced from King Faruk, she took lessons in Zorian’s studio. The caricaturist Edmond Kiraz, who received great honors and awards from the French government, was one of Zorian’s students. Others include abstract artist Yasmin (Hasmig Ballarian), Rose Papazian, Atom Egoyan’s mother and father, Joseph and Shushan Egoyan, Garbis (Yetvart Yaghjian), Nora Ipekian Azadian and Shant Avedisian (whose works are on display in American and British art museums).

Zorian had been separated from his sisters when they were placed in orphanages. He found late in life that they were in America, and came to spend time with them. He even created artworks while in Worcester, Mass. When the sisters understood that Zorian was dying, they asked Azadian to go to Egypt in 1970 to prepare the paperwork so that 100 of his works would be donated to Armenia. The Soviet embassy had to process this and it took four years before the pictures could arrive in Armenia through the good offices of Dr. K. Mazloumian.

Over forty years later, Zorian’s sister’s daughter, Sona Husisian, who was living in Worcester, Massachusetts, contacted Azadian in 2014. She told him that she wanted to donate a collection of her uncle’s paintings which she received from her mother and sister to Armenia’s National Gallery after her death. Paravon Mirzoyan was the director at the time of the Gallery, and he entrusted Azadian with arranging the dispatch of the artworks to Armenia. Sona Husisian’s will was probated by the law firm of Mirick O’Connell.

On October 7, Azadian was at the scene with current director Armand Tsaturian, when the crates were opened and 58 paintings were delivered to the National Gallery. An exhibition is planned after all the paintings are properly restored and catalogued.

Consequently, there are now 158 works of Zorian in Armenia’s National Gallery. There are many more in the Middle East and America. Azadian himself has 20-25 paintings in his home in Michigan.

(Translated and summarized from the Armenian)