Անհրաժեշտ էր հաղթահարել դժգույն և պարտադրող դպրոցի ազդեցությունը և գտնել սեփական տեխնիկան՝ չօգտվելով ուրիշինից: Ես սկսեցի փնտրել ավելի ամուր, պարզ ձևեր և գույներ իրականության գեղանկարչական էությունը հաղորդելու համար...
Իմ նպատակն է՝ պարզ միջոցներով, խուսափելով որևէ կուտակումներից, առավել արտահայտչականության հասնել...
Խոսքս այն արտահայտչական ուժի մասին է, որը կա արվեստի բոլոր իսկական ստեղծագործություններում, սկսած հին ժամանակնրեից մինչև մեր օրերը:
...Լույսը, գույնը, նյութը, ձևը, իրար կողք գտնվող առարկաների և դրանց մասերի հարաբերությունը նկարիչը պետք է փոխանցի թեթև: Դա այն դժվար թեթևությունն է, որը բնորոշ է բոլոր ժամանակների խոշոր վարպետներին: Անհրաժեշտ է զարգացնել արագ տեսնելու և ըմբռնելու, ապա արագ հաղորդելու կարողությունը: Անհրաժեշտ է նաև ունենալ չափի զգացողություն:
Բնությունն արարում է մարդուն,որպեսզի հենց մարդու միջոցով տեսնի իրեն և հիանա իրենով:
Մարդը բնություն է, բնությունը` մարդ, ուստի մահ գոյություն չունի»:
Мартирос Сарьян родился 28 февраля 1880 года в России, в армянском городе Новая Нахичевань, близ реки Дон (ныне входит в Ростов-на-Дону). Предки Сарьяна были выходцами из Ани – древней столицы Армении. Вследствие миграции часть анийских армян осела в Крыму. В конце ХVIII в. они были выселены из Крыма татарами, и царица Екатерина II предоставила им земли в приазовских степях России. Родители будущего художника владели небольшим участком земли на берегу речки Самбек, занимались земледелием. В семье было восемь детей, жили трудно. Между тем Сарьян с особым вдохновением часто вспоминал детские годы, проведённые в степи. Именно тогда в душе его зародился неисчерпаемый восторг перед многоликой и многоцветной природой. «Перед глазами всё встало в сиянии солнечного света: стройные хлеба вперемежку с травами, покрытыми множеством цветов, над которыми реяли пчёлы и бабочки… Всё это безудержно влекло к себе. Я, очарованный, вошёл в хлебный строй и окунулся в мир, подобный сновидению. Я долго шёл и, уставши, уснул в кустах хлеба, на земле, как на груди своей матери» (из неизданных воспоминаний). Детское восприятие мира навсегда определило роль природного солнечного света и естественного несмешанного цвета в визуальном восприятии художника, а также явилось основополагающим в его осознании своей непосредственной причастности к жизни Вселенной, находящейся в постоянном процессе становления, самопроявления.
В 1971-1972 годах Сарьян создал серию рисунков фломастером. В них очевиден возврат художника к гармоничной мелодике и пластике раннего акварельного цикла «Сказки и сны». Но рисунки эти отличаются неким медитативным погружением в образы армянской природы, жившие в сердце и памяти художника. Последний из рисунков датирован Мастером 04 - 04 - 72, то есть за месяц до его смерти...
Մ. Սարյան. «Աշտարակի
Կարմրավոր եկեղեցին» (1956 թ.)
|«Աշնանային ծաղիկներ և մրգեր» (1939 թ.)|
Martiros Saryan (1880 -1972) is one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, an outstanding colorist. 'Color is a genuine miracle', the painter exclaimed. 'In combination with sunlight, it expresses the spirit of object's shape and the essence of universal existence'. Saryan's paintings, created in bright, saturated colors represent a new aesthetic perception enable us to understand that art is not only an imitation of reality but, it is the use of free imagination and abstraction. At the same time, Saryan adheres simple natural shapes in his paintings, always believing nature to be his main mentor.
In the beginning of the 1910's, Saryan was a bold innovator, who brilliantly united artistic traditions of the East with the new achievements of the twentieth century European painting. The artist was recognized in Russia, where some of his paintings were bought by the famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, others were exhibited in Europe. In 1921, Saryan settled in Armenia, to participate in its spiritual rebirth. The ideology of the Soviet country in which he resided created certain difficulties for his free creative evolution. But the artist remained loyal to the principles of his own style. The earlier elaborated technical methods and ways of expression were enriched with new content. As a founder of the modern Armenian school of painting, Saryan asserted in his art the timeless and humanistic values of high art.
In 1895 Saryan finished Armenian-Russian school in Novaya Nakhichevan. Already during his school years Saryan's progress in drawing was appreciated by special certificate. After finishing school Saryan worked in a post-office. In his spare time he copied illustrations from journals and sketched some of clients. Willing to encourage Martiros's passion for drawing his elder brother introduced him to his friend, artist A. Artsatbanyan, a student of the Moscow College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Appreciating the inborn talent of the youth, Artsatbanyan trained Martiros for the entrance exams to the Moscow College. In 1897 Saryan became a college student.
The feeling of independence and freedom of creation in the Moscow School of Arts, Sculpture and Architecture, the unceasing search for new shapes, the breaking of the old and expired traditions of fine arts, the struggle against academism, the bold experiments of young artists who so keenly felt the pace of time, the first exhibitions of the latest achievements of European, especially French, painting - the subtle and susceptible spirit of the young artist absorbed all the above mentioned. His talent enriched, his vision sharpened, his technique improved. Training in the studios of the famous Russian impressionist K.Korovin and outstanding painter V.Serov facilitated the development of his professional skills.
But during his early period, Saryan's portraits and landscapes do not yet reveal the artist's individual style. One can easily notice the canons of classical painting: gray color spectrum, transforming from light to shade. However, these pieces of work are already the proof of the young artist's mastery.
Trips to the Caucasus in 1901-1903 were a true revelation for Saryan. In the summer of 1902, Saryan visited Ani, the old capital of Armenia. 'In the picturesque nooks of the south of our ancient country, I found again the magic world of my childhood', recalls the artist (“Martiros Saryan”, p.58).Influenced by the southern sun and optical color effects created by its rays, the palette and the imaginary system of Saryan's first individual works changed. 'The hardest time in my life was the time of initial seeking… I wasn't satisfied with beaten tracks… I decided to follow my own aspirations…', the artist recalled. 'All what I painted from 1904 was a combination of the real and the imaginary - the real insofar as I painted it being guided by my impressions of what I saw, and the fantasy insofar I was synthesizing it in my imagination' (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.78). Thus, in 1904-1907 Saryan created the watercolor series 'Fairy Tales and Dreams'. The simplified figures of people and animals depicted by the painter are easily recognized. However, the overall mood created by their interaction is so unusual that carries the viewer away to the world of feelings energizing his imagination with mysterious power. Subconsciously a viewer experiences a marvelous harmony of nature.
Some pieces of this series were displayed in 1907 at the Blue Rose exposition in Moscow that was the first exposition of Russian painters-symbolists.
Starting from 1908, Saryan completely replaced watercolor with tempera. Works like ‘By the Well. Hot Day’, ‘By the Sea. Sphinx’ reveals the evolution of the color palette of the artist. The clear and bright colors are laid out on the cardboard by long, distinct touches creating sparkling plays of color hues filled with sunlight. Also, it is necessary to point out the early experiments of Saryan in tempera techniques. In 1905, the artist created ‘Charm of the Sun’. Here he creates a simple plot with harmonious combination of synthetic color and shape, sparkling in the light of the strong southern sun. The sonorous color decision in this composition precedes Saryan’s acquaintance with the work of Matisse, the founder of French fauvism. The first exhibitions of French artists from the late 19th to early 20th century from S.Shchukin's and I.Morozov's collections were opened in Moscow in 1906. Saryan wrote about his first impressions of new principles of European painting in his letters dated by 1908: 'Gauguin is amazing with his new religion that revealed the innermost spiritual world of barbarians to the Europeans. Cezanne is unparalleled, firm, and earnest in his strong and brilliant paintings. Van Gogh is so interesting: a restless and ailing seeker'. (“Martiros Saryan. Letters”, p.72). At the same time, Saryan confessed that acquaintance with the French painting inspired and convinced him even more of the righteousness of his own style and his attitude to painting.
Many Russian artists of the time were influenced by the new French school. However, no one utilized expressiveness that Saryan possessed arising from large planes of pure colors providing the generalized characteristic of visually perceived forms and motions. The style of the Armenian medieval miniature was close to Saryan. It is unique by the synthesis of contrasting colors and simple rhythmic lines. The decorative simplicity and symbolic forms, which express spontaneity of national thinking, were creatively elaborated by Saryan.
In 1909, fantastic dreams in Saryan's works were replaced by more real and vital observations of the nature and the world around. The elaboration of the technique, plot motives and overall system of artistic characters, developed in the subsequent period, are typical for the paintings ‘Self-portrait’, ‘A Running Dog’, ‘Hyenas’ . A bright and sonorous palette enchant with laconic brevity and accuracy of the image.
During this period Saryan takes an active part in the exhibitions organized by the magazine Zolotoye Runo (Golden Fleece).
The interest in Eastern culture was determinative in the development of 20th century European and Russian art. But for Saryan, a painter of Armenian origin, the appeal to the East was an important self-revelation. The zeal to cognize the world of the East and himself as the part of this world guided the artist during his journeys to the eastern countries - Turkey (Constantinople, 1910), Egypt (1911), Persia (1913).
'I had a goal to understand the East, to find out its characteristic features for to further substantiate my search in painting', wrote the artist.' I wanted to express the realism of the East and find convincing ways to describe and depict that world, discover its new artistic comprehension' (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.99).
In this period of creating the works on eastern themes, the artist's colorful palette is fully revealed. 'I have lived in Constantinople for about two months. Within that period of time my work was fruitful', Saryan recalled. 'Of the biggest interests for me were the streets, their rhythm of life, the flamboyant crowd and dogs… that used to live in extended packs' (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.102). During that period, Saryan used to paint exclusively on white cardboard. In each of his works the painter summarized his brightest impressions. '…When some things did not turn out well, I used to go to the same place to check and enhance my impressions. My problem was to clearly and laconically convey on the cardboard the scorching heat of the sunlight and the contrast of color connected with it'. (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.102).
Whishing to re-create the real life of Eastern streets, Saryan scales up his compositions and constructs them on the same plane. The volume and the depth in these planar compositions were acquired by applying dark blue shadows which accompany the figures of women in yashmak lightly passing along the yellow-orange streets or the packs of dogs that got the incredible colors in the light of intense sun.
Upon his return from Constantinople, Saryan displayed his new paintings at the Moscow Fellowship of Painters exhibition. The paintings “Wisterias”, “Fruit Store”, and later “Street at Midday” were acquired by the Tretyakov Gallery. It was for the first time when a gallery would acquire paintings of a young innovative artist.
Saryan's paintings, exhibited in Rome in autumn of 1911, aroused big interest in artistic circles.
The trip to Egypt enriched Saryan's art with new works fully expressing his original style. In Egypt the artist was most of all struck by the inseparable connection of ancient and modern culture.' On leaving the Museum of Bulakh one could see in the streets the people who seemed to have been the models for the sculptures in the museum', recalled the painter. 'The same type, expression, gestures, the same manner of walking with slightly raised shoulders... As if they had been wandering through millennia and reached this day together with the fine monuments created by their ancestors at the dawn of civilization'. (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.120).
The idea of eternity and immortality of soul, incarnated in Egyptian art was in harmony with Saryan's world outlook and his strong belief that a man does not pass away for he is nature himself. It is not accidental that the wooden masks brought by Saryan from Egypt became the symbol of the soul's eternal existence in his art.
In 1912, Saryan traveled to Armenia once again. This time he chose its northwestern parts (Ardanuch, Arcvin, and Ardagan). Unlike the yellow sea of the Egyptian desert and sharp contrasts of the green and dark blue, the artist traced softer colors typical of these places. "The Mount Abul and the Passing Camels" (The National Gallery of Armenia), "Greengrocer", "Morning. Green Mountains" and others paintings are examples of the new color and thematic experiences of the artist. At the end of the same year that was a great achievement for Saryan to participate in the Second Exhibition of Post-Impressionism in the Grafton Gallery in London.
In 1913, Saryan traveled to Persia, where the city bazaar mostly interested him. He observed the languid rhythm of the colorful country, where the life seemed to have immobilized for an instant under the effect of the hookah. In Persia Saryan did only a few sketches. Impressed by the life and culture of this country, he painted a series of paintings with Persian themes in his Moscow studio.
'Saryan is still in the beginning of his creative accomplishments. But what he has given so far is extremely significant since it gives a new meaning to our attitude to the East. It indicates that the soulless… orientalism is over ', the famous poet and critic M. Voloshin writes in the first extensive review about Saryan published in 1913 in Apollo, the most distinguished art journal of that time in Russia.
Saryan was extremely demanding on himself and he would always feel real art. 'I was afraid my success will result in appearance of cliches in my art .I did not want to become a fashionable artist,' he confessed. 'I felt an urgent need to renew my art'. (“About Saryan“, p.465). The artist intended to resume his trips to the East. He dreamed of visiting China, Japan, and India but his plans were frustrated by World War I.
In the spring of 1914, Saryan left for Tbilisi, Georgia. He participated in the activities of the Armenian ethnographic community and visited Gokhtn (Southern Armenia, presently in Azerbaijan). 'I was happy …I was face to face with the nature that was so dear to me like a mother and greatest teacher', writes the artist (“About Saryan“, p.465). Saryan displayed his new paintings - landscapes and flowers from the Kalaki fields, at the World of Art exhibition in Moscow. Then he took part in a Baltic exhibition in Malmo, (Sweden). One of his paintings, "The Tree" (1910), remained later in the Art museum of Malmo.
However, the further development of Saryan's art was interrupted by the tragic events taking place in Armenia. 'But in 1915 I learned about the disaster that Armenia was experiencing. I closed my studio and left for my home country. In Echmiadzin and in its suburbs I witnessed crowds of people fleeing from the Genocide in Turkish Armenia … People were dying right in front of me but I was almost unable to help them… I was deeply depressed and was taken to Tiflis with an obvious emotional disorder', Saryan recalls (“About Saryan“, p.465-466).
The artist could not work for a long time. But the first thing he created after this trial was the picture with a big bouquet of red flowers. The way to salvation was found: 'The art has to call a person for life and struggle, inspire him with hope and faith by timeless and common to all mankind ideas. It should never depress with its tragic subjects'. (“Saryan about Art”, p. 59).
Another event that brought Saryan back to creative life was the meeting with the beautiful black-eyed Lusik Aghayan, daughter of the famous Armenian writer and pedagogue Ghasaros Aghayan. 'This was an encounter of two persons who seemed to have known each other before but were temporarily separated', the artist recalled (“About Saryan“, p.466).
At the end of 1915, Saryan once again participates in the World of Art exhibition. In 1916 in Tiflis, Saryan established The Fellowship of Armenian Artists with the partisipation of the Armenian painters E. Tatevosyan, V. Surenyants, and P. Terlemezyan and created the sketch of its emblem. 'The nation that hardly survived from extermination strove to heal its deep wounds by uniting its progressive cultural power', Saryan wrote. (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p. 198).
A new period had started in Saryan's personal and creative life. 'In those days of sufferings I became related to my nation with all my heart. I would not have become an artist nor been myself if not the feeling of a homeland. I dedicated all my subsequent creative life to it'. (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.200).
Martiros Saryan and Lusik Aghayan got engaged in the Tskhneti village church on April 17 of 1917.
At the end of 1917 the artist took part for the last time in the World of Art exhibition in Moscow. The 'Poetry of Armenia' anthology designed by Saryan and edited by Russian poet Valery Brusov was published. Afterwards, Saryan and his wife moved to Nakhichevan where they lived in his mother's house. The painter made frequent trips to Tiflis and was there at the time of the October Revolution.
In the same year, their son, Sarkis, was born. He later became a literature critic and specialist in Italian and Armenian literature.
In 1918 -1919, Saryan lived with his family in Novaya Nakhichevan, which then became a region of Rostov-on-Don. He initiated the establishment of an Armenian Local Lore museum. At the Lotus exhibition, where Armenian and Russian painters were exhibited, Saryan displayed 45 paintings. Aside from his earlier paintings, his latest paintings were also exhibited and revealed the oriental theme in a new way: ‘Portrait of N. Komurjyan’, ‘Old Tiflis’, and ‘Red Horse’.
The artist also designed G.Chalkhushyan's Red Book, dedicated to Armenian Genocide, and M. Shahinyan's collection of poems Orientalia.
Saryan's second son, Ghazaros (Lazar), was born in 1920. Later he became a famous composer.
On the invitation of A. Myasnikyan, chairman of People's commissioner's council, Saryan permanently moved to Yerevan with his family. He organized a State museum of archeology, ethnography, and fine arts. Aside from that, he participated in the establishment of the Yerevan Art College and Artists Union of Armenia. In 1922, Saryan sketched the National Emblem and the flag of the Soviet Armenia. In the other remarkable work of this period, the sketch of the curtain of First Drama Theater in Yerevan, the artist depicted a synthesized image of his reborn homeland. The artist's goal was to depict the real life in Armenia. 'I want to show the world that this rocky piece of land on the slopes of Mount Aragats does exist', said Saryan. '… This piece of land has gone through storms and profanation, but has been washed by blood and sanctified by faith. This piece of land keeps on its bosom a small handful of hardworking and talented people'. (“Martiros Saryan”, p.86).
Changes in creative objectives resulted in changes in work methods and enhancement of style. Traveling to various regions in Armenia the artist painted his canvases in the open air, contemplating and depicting instances of nature's life. The zeal to convey the real and tangible side of nature and the nation's life resulted in a quick, sketchy manner of oil painting. Like shot after shot a valley scorched by the sun («Armenia, sketch»), low clay huts with flat roofs («Erevan, sketch»), summer heat, («Mount Aragats in summer») and the lovely cool of shady gardens («Courtyard in Erevan») appear one after the other.
Overcoming the impressionistic manner of transforming an object into a substance of color and light, Saryan strove to create a complete image in its material and volumetric integrity. However it is not the passive reproduction of the visible, but the ability, with one snapshot, to convey the inner essence of life evolving over time and space with the help of vivid imagination. 'To look with the eyes and see through the heart', Saryan used to say.
In the paintings of 1924, Saryan once again generalized the image of the world, by not confining to his country borders, but activating our emotional and intellectual perception of life as a whole. («Yerevan», «Midday Calm», «Flamboyant landscape» and others). Saryan exhibited his new paintings at the 14th International Exhibition (Biennale di Venice) where they were a great success and were reproduced for the first time.
Avetik Issahakyan, the Armenian poet, resided in Italy at the time published an article in the 'Hayrenik' newsletter (Paris). He highly appreciated the creative work of Saryan as a phenomenon of historical significance for the development of Armenian culture. 'He is building the scientific basis for our painting', the poet wrote. 'More exactly, he revitalizes and evolves the old traditions as the elements of this new art live in the depth of centuries of the history of our Motherland'.
The Italian press has also highly praised the art of the Armenian master. 'Saryan's paintings are of such a bright expression of strong and unique temperament that they produce a tremendous impact on a viewer. Both the colors and the portrayal deserve a great attention for those seeking a modern art point of view', the Italian critic J.Sprovieri wrote.
In 1925, for the first time during the Soviet years, Saryan's paintings were displayed in Moscow at the Four Arts exhibition where they were highly praised by the metropolitan press. In the summer of the same year, the paintings left after the 1914 exposition held in Malmo (Sweden) were returned by I.Grabar and sent to the exhibition of Russian art in America. At the end of the year, Martiros Saryan was awarded the title of People's Artist of Armenia.
After the success at Moscow exhibition, Saryan got an opportunity to travel abroad. 'I certainly wanted to visit the capital of artists - Paris', Saryan confessed.
Arriving in Paris, the artist, who had already gained a steady and considerable reputation in Russian and Armenian modern art, worked to enhance and advance his art striving to apply anew the experience of French Post-impressionism to already formed principles of his own style. Thus, he managed to synthesize the pictorial traditions of the East and the West.
Saryan wrote from Paris to his friend, artist N.Ulyanov, 'Artists here work in an interesting manner. You can find everything here. But the most important you feel the smell of art… From the beginning of the war (WWI), as consequence of a shock (the Socialist Revolution), we lost a lot. Now I try to revitalize myself and summarize what I have done for long years'. (“Martiros Saryan. Letters”, p.379).
A. Efros, the famous Russian critic, who met Saryan in Paris, wrote: 'He didn't strive to be a Parisian. He didn't trouble about glory… Here he lived for himself and … studied. There were sketches on the easel, at his studio walls, the ones that Parisian neophytes used to do... The creative tactics was obvious. He yet again was making his way through to the best of himself '.
In Paris, Saryan twice exhibited his works at exhibitions of Russian and Armenian art. But his personal exhibition opened in January of 1928 in the Sh.O.Girard salon was the most remarkable. The text for the exhibition catalogue was written by famous critic Luis Voxelle. This exhibition comprised about 40 paintings created by the artist in Paris. The Armenian theme, which acquired a new stylistic elaboration, prevails in these works. Only in some of his sketches Saryan turns to the nature of France, depicts the Seine and Marne banks and a view from his studio. At these years the artist also made stage designs to the play 'Zuleyka' by K. Gozzi for the 'Bat' theater of N. Baliev. Saryan's art was a great success which was rare for a foreigner. The 'exam', as the painter himself said, was passed. However, presently it is difficult to assess this important period of the artist's creative evolution. Regretfully, on the voyage back to Armenia, Saryan's paintings burned down. 'The French ship Firgi that was transporting my paintings was supposed to embark eggs in the Novorossyisk port. That was the reason sawdust was loaded with the cargo. The boxes with paintings were put on the sawdust… In the port of Constantinople the ship caught fire - accidentally or deliberately. Only a piece of a canvas remanied from my 40 canvases ', the artist recalled with pain. (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p. 267). The only paintings that survived had been sold by Saryan in Paris, as well as several small canvases that he had taken with him. Among these works there were: ‘Mountains Geghama’, ‘To the Spring’, ‘On the Marne River’, ‘Out of the Studio Window’ (1927, the National Gallery of Armenia), ‘Gazelles ’.
Fate had prepared an ordeal for the artist. However, Saryan mobilized all his will as it was typical for a creator of such a remarkable life-asserting art and returned to work. As A.Efros wrote, 'It was not enough for the artist to acquire the intensified skills. He had to harmonize them with what was going on around him and catch up with his country, not as a time-server but as a genuine and rigorous painter as he has always been'. (“About Saryan”, p.128).
At the time, Erevan was being constructed from mounds of disordered ruins. 'When the sound of hammers was all around, when a thought began to work and muscled arms got to work, everything changed. Yerevan started to be filled with light and verve' (“Martiros Saryan. From My Life”, p.125). At this period the urban scenes became the most favorite genre for Saryan. Laconism of the plot, oversimplified depiction of human figures in their characteristic motion - that was Saryan's style in those years. One after the other the following paintings appeared: ‘A Courtyard in Erevan in Springtime’, ‘Old Erevan’ (1928, the Tretyakov Gallery), ‘The Old and the Newest’ (1929, the Russian Museum), ‘The Zangou Banks in Erevan’, ‘Corner in Old Erevan ’, ‘Construction of a Bridge. Yerevan’ and others.
From 1928 -1929, Saryan displayed his paintings in various exhibitions in Yerevan and Moscow. Starting from 1930, the artist's paintings boldly expressing the advanced search of the modern art were regularly exhibited at the Soviet Art exhibitions in Europe (Stockholm, Vienna, Berlin, Venice, and Zurich).
In 1930, the Almast opera by A.Spendiarov, designed by Saryan, premiered in the Odessa Opera House. In 1932, Saryan designed the second act of the Golden Cockerel opera by N.Rimski-Korsakov staged in the Moscow Stanislavski Theater. In 1934, Saryan traveled to Turkmenistan and created a series of paintings in which one could obviously see the artist's previous attraction to oriental motives. At the same year Persian poet Firdausi's Rustam and Zohrab poem illustrated by Saryan and edited by the famous Armenian poet E.Charents was published.
However, the Stalin's policy of ideological suppression of cultural figures started to be gradually enforced in the early thirties. The Sovet State, as the only customer and buyer of art, demanded Socialist realism that meant simplicity (the ignorant officials associated the national character with primitivism) and illustration of political doctrines.
The decisions of 1932 confined the artist's freedom of creation. The so-called iron curtain policy impeded Saryan's contacts with the western culture and removed his creative work from the context of the world modern art. Saryan's works of art were severely criticized because of their decorativeness and extensive vividness of colors. The artist was called a formalist and was accused of flaw of idealistic world outlook.
Oftentimes, the artist 'held back' the colors of his paintings trying to 'paint simpler'. But his craftsmanship took over. ‘The Self-portrait with a Mask’ expresses his zeal to keep the beliefs of his creative work and the loyalty to the eternal and humanistic ideals of genuine art. When he was demanded to paint the portrait glorifying Stalin, Saryan replied that he couldn't paint from photo and used to portray from life. This was becoming a problem. Saryan didn't create a single portrait of Stalin.
In 1937 the period of harsh repressions began. Saryan's 12 portraits of the brightest literature and public figures subjected to repressions were burnt. Only one of them survived. The museum workers managed to hide the Charents' portrait (1923).
Meanwhile, in these years Saryan was ordered to create a huge panel. It should have represented a pavilion of the Soviet art exposition in Paris. The panel sized 46 sq.m won the Grand Prix.
In 1939, Saryan created another big panel for the Armenian pavilion of the agricultural exposition in Moscow. The demanded portrait of the country leader was not painted on this panel. The panel presented only a huge Armenian landscape. It was decided to place Stalin's full-length sculpture made by G.Kepinov in the foreground of Saryan's panel.
At this period Saryan painted very little. He mostly created sketches for theater designs and book illustrations.
The years of the WWII (1941-1945) seemed to have given some freedom for creativity. Saryan created a series of wonderful portraits of cultural figures. The fact that his youngest son was taken to the army testified the artist's civic stance. The future of Armenia was also under the threat. If the fascists had occupied Stalingrad the Turks would have rushed to Armenia and destroyed it.
The artist's thoughts and feelings of those years were expressed in the painting: ‘From the artist’s life. Portrait of Lusik Saryan’, as well as in his famous ‘Self-portrait. Three Stages of Life‘. These works were innovative in the portrait genre. By means of juxtaposing events from different epochs the artist reveals the inner life and emotional experience of his models. This method was typical for oriental painting. Thus, in the above portrait of Lusik a tangerine in her hands is reflected in the mirror as a long-awaited letter from their son who fought in the front. In the self-portrait we see Saryan as young, middle-aged and an old man in the foreground of Armenian landscape. The centuries-old history of Armenia juxtaposed to three periods of the artist's life. The history of human life is the change of generations. The change of generations is the history of the country.
Marking the victory and the return of his son, Saryan created his largest picture in the genre of still life "Flowers to Armenians who Fought in the Great Patriotic War" (1945, the National Gallery of Armenia).
Saryan's ogriginal and innovative art always evoked controversial opinions. In 1941, the artist was awarded the State Prize for designing the Almast opera by A.Spendiarov (its new performance was staged in the frames of the decade of Armenian art in 1939 in Moscow). In 1947, the Academy of artists of USSR was established, and Saryan became its member. But at the same time he was accused of formalism - the most terrible verdict for the artist of that time (1948). The Soviet Art journal stated that Saryan's art was 'the armenianized version of the French bourgeois formalism' and could not be considered national'.
It was a hard experience for Saryan to be subjected to slashing criticism. In an outburst of pain and disappointment he cut one of his best canvases ‘Big Oriental Still Life’. Fortunately, young artists who were always around Saryan snatched out the pieces of this canvas from the painter. Later the painting was restored, but the hems could still be noticeable.
In 1951, Saryan went to 'Uzkoye' sanatorium near Moscow for heart treatment. Gradually he recovered and his great love to art returned him to painting. During these years, Saryan's interest in the portrait genre continued. A great number of prominent figures of Armenian and Russian culture and science were portrayed. These were the portraits of those ones who created the culture of Soviet country and whose significance is important till nowadays. Saryan painted the portraits of architect T.Toromanyan (1934, the National Gallery of Armenia), A.Tamanyan (1933, the National Gallery of Armenia), ballerina G. Ulanova, poet М.Lozinski, academicians H.Acharyan (1943, the National Gallery of Armenia), S.Malkhasyan (1943, the National Gallery of Armenia), I.Orbeli (1943, the National Gallery of Armenia), pianist K.Igumnov (1934, the National Gallery of Armenia), producer S. Eisenstein (1940, private collection, Yerevan), poetess A. Akhmatova, writer I. Erenburg, poet A. Issahakyan (1940, the National Gallery of Armenia) composers A.Khachatryan (1944, the Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow), and D.Shostakovich (1963, the Saryan Museum).
In the 1950's, Saryan painted others of his not so prominent contemporaries who went through dramatic events of the epoch. Working at the portrait Saryan never compelled the model to sit in an artificial pose for a long time. He talked with them about exciting and painful items, which would lead them to take the natural pose and countenance most characteristic for them. That was immediately grasped by the artist who used to finish the portraits in two sittings. In each person's eyes portrayed by Saryan one can read the history of the time.
When N.S.Khrushchev came to power, the situation in art has changed. Saryan was able to breathe freely. His interest in landscapes creating at the open air that had been outlined in his creative method since 1952 acquired further development. The artist traveled throughout Armenia once again creating a series of landscapes in Dvin (1952), in Sevan (1953) and in Byrakan (1957-1958). Yet again, Mount Ararat rises in the artist's paintings - two-peaked biblical mountain in the shine of sun beams. The painter sustained the ability to observe, amaze, admire, and rejoice in every unique instant of life. The works of this period were included in the series 'My Motherland', for which Saryan was awarded the Lenin prize in 1961.
The 85th jubilee of the artist was widely marked in 1965. His personal exhibitions were organized in Moscow and Yerevan. Saryan was awarded a Hero of Socialistic Labor. Armenfilm studio created the "Martiros Saryan" film (director L.Vagarshyan, author of the text I. Ehrenburg).
In 1966, Saryan received the State Prize of the Armenian SSR. The artist's collection of memoirs From My Life was published in Armenian and later edited in four languages. In November of 1967, the Martiros Saryan House-museum was opened in Yerevan. Painter's personal exhibitions were held in Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and GDR.
A. Kamenski, the author of numerous articles about M.Saryan, neatly noted:' Saryan responded in equally the same way to both great success and reckless attacks by standing near his easel and creating new works'. Saryan went on creating until the last days of his life. In 1969, an expression of a new, cosmic vision of the world could be observed in Saryan's paintings (a response to the first flights to space). The stylistics of his works modified. ‘The Earth’ (1969) and ‘Fairy Tale’ (1971) convey the perception of the infinity of the Universe. 'The conquest of technical progress has stunned so many people that they even started speaking about art dying out', said Saryan. 'Well, I think art is in demand nowadays as never before. What else, if not art, is able to humanize and make all the outstanding discoveries of science and technology more conceivable to people?' (“Saryan about Art”, p.43).
In 1971-1972 Saryan created a series of felt-tip drawings in which the artist's return to the harmonious melodies of his early series 'Fairy Tales and Dreams' is evident. Still, these drawings are different due to some meditative immersion in the images of Armenian nature, which were in the heart and memory of the artist. The final drawing is dated by the Master 04 - 04 -72, which was a month prior to his death.