"...Meanwhile, in the Caucasus, nationalist movements arise as the Ottoman and Russian empires begin to collapse in the early twentieth century. Attempts to create independent republics are quashed and lands in this region are absorbed into the Soviet Union. They gain their independence only after the collapse of that state in 1991, and are then divided into the republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia. During this period, painters are trained in traditional European-style academies, either in Moscow or on the Continent. Martiros Saryan (18801972), for example, works in a Post-Impressionistic style and experiments with capturing the essence of light in his landscape and still-life paintings. One of the world-renowned painters to come out these schools is Arshile Gorky (Vosdanik Adoian, 19041948), who was born in Armenia and moved to New York in 1925. He is considered a progenitor of Abstract Expressionism, although his later works are profoundly affected by European Surrealism, particularly the work of Joan Miro, Andre Masson, and Matta. His disciple in Soviet Armenia, Artour Oshakantsi (born 1953), becomes the greatest Armenian painter in the Soviet Union. He is the founder of Abstract Naturalism and is perhaps the most well-known painter of Independent Armenia. In Soviet Armenia, where abstractionism symbolized the voice of social protest, Oshakantsi is one of the first artists to use abstraction to express his political rage. Traditional arts, like carpet weaving and embroidery, are practiced, albeit with lesser intensity and vibrancy, geared toward commercial consumption and export. Contemporary artists from the Caucasus grapple with issues of identity, displacement, homeland, political freedom, national self-assertion, and their new position within the global community."
More... "The Metropolitan Museum of Art"
OLD ARMENIA'S NEW ARTIST
Fast and furious, Artour OSHAKANTSI is probably the most powerful post - modernist painter of Independent Armenia. While his academic roots were fed by the figurative rigidities of the Socialist Realism in Soviet Armenia. Oshakantsi's generation of angry young men drew comfort and inspiration from the mild abstract expressionism of the much decorated Martiross SARIAN, who seems to have remained the only Great Master of Soviet painting officially sanctioned to be mildly abstract during the worst times of camp Stalinist monumental masonry. While in the West Abstract Art evolved from purely pictorial experimentation (although the Mother of them all, Dadaism, may have had some social content). in Soviet Armenia, Abstractionism symbolised (and manifested) the voice of explosive cork-bottled societal protest. And Artour OSHAKANTSI was one of the first to dare blow his top off, going, nay, racing headlong into a mad, sometimes bad, always wild abstraction, but rooted firmly in powerful colourful Fauvist structures. However, like all true artists (whatever 'true' may mean), OSHAKANTSI, while very learned in the history and traditions of his metier, has no time at all for '-isms', has reached beyond them to 'sheer painting', subtending a wide range of themes, subjects and styles. Uniquely and single-handedly in post-modern art of today, OSHAKANTSI has hit upon re-inventing here and now in Britain, the almost forgotten Fayyum Portraits of Hellenistic Egypt-highly individualistic character-revelations of modern men and women, haunting readings of their immortal souls, the icon-ic capture of God's breath in action, creating the individual in his own image. Infinitely variable yet somehow mysteriously the same, that is, divinely deeply puzzled pieces of human earth.
Professor H. I. PILIKIAN
The Founder of Abstract Naturalism
Arshile Gorky (1904-1948), the Armenian exile in America, invented the American Abstract Expressionism. His young disciple in Soviet Armenia, Artour Oshakantsi, became the greatest Armenian Abstract painter in the Soviet Union. A long spell in London, and a decade of experimentation led Oshakantsi to an iconographic synthetic style, which ironically only an analytical mind thinking in figurative terms, could achieve, creating a breakthrough new school of Painting which needs labelling ; I propose ABSTRACT NATURALISM, founded on so profound a spiritual/mythical symbolism as to encode almost heraldic medieval allegories. Oshakantsi is the abstract naturalist par excellence, and its Founder.
b. 5 October 1953 in Oshakan *, Armenia *
* Oshakan is a pre-historical site of human habitation in the mountains of Caucasus. It is where St. Mesrop Mashtots is buried. Mashtots, in the Fourth century AD created the Armenian Alphabet which being perfect to the Armenian langauge is still used today intact, as Mashtots had created. As on Mashtots, so upon Artour Oshakantsi, the landscape of Armenia and Nature's Forms of fructification are main influences on their creative imagination. First Exhibited at the age of Thirteen, long before pursuing a formal academic training;
1966 - Yerevan, capital of Armenia (Solo Exhibition)
1968 - Bologna, Italy (Group Exhibition)
1969 - Yerevan (Solo)
1976 - Studied at the Art Institute, Yerevan
1974 - Yerevan (Solo)
1976 - Various exhibitions in the Soviet Union and Abroad 1978 - Yerevan (Group Exhibition)
1980 - Member of the Youth section of the USSR Artists' Union
1985 - Group Exhibition in Moscow, USSR
1987 - (a) Stockert Collection, Munich, Germany (b) Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan Armenia. <
1988 - Full Member of the USSR Artists' Union
1989 - (a) Group Exhibition, Gallery Express-Avantgarde, Moscow
(b) Represented the Soviet Union in an Exhibition of Artists from all the Socialist countries of the World, Moscow.
(c) Represented the Soviet Fund of Social Discovery, attached to UNESCO, exhibiting in the USA (Washington DC, Arlington, Ann-Arbour Detroit etc.)
1990 - (a) Group Exhibition, Gallery Express Avantgarde, Vienna, Austria
(b) Group Exhibition, Gallery Express Avangarde, New York, USA
1991 - (a) Invited to Warsaw, Poland; Exhibitions in Klub Oficerow
(b) Hotel Mariot
(c) Gallery Monetti
(d) Museum Niepodlegloshi
(e) Gallery Kontakt (Solo)
(f) Gallery Karamanoukian, Ann Arbour, Michigan,USA (Solo)
1992 - Invited to London by Cottenham Gallery (a) The Alberti Gallery, Summer Exhibition, Cork Street,
(b) The Alberti Gallery, Russian Realism, Cork Street
1993 - The Alberti Gallery, East European Art, Cork Street
1994 - (a) Art 94, Contemporary Art Fair, Business Design Centre, London
(b) Posk Gallery, Hammersmith, London (Solo)
(c) The Alberti Gallery, Artists from former USSR, Cork Street, London
(d) Russian Art Gallery, Ealing, London (Solo)
1995 - Exoticus Gallery, Knightsbridge, London
1996 - The Hill Gallery, Highgate, London (Solo)
1997 - Contemporary Art Fair, Chelsea, London
1998 - Contemporary Art Fair, London
1999 - St. Raphael Gallery, Piccadilly, London (Solo)
2000 - (a) Workhouse Gallery, Chelsea, London
(b) Gallery Art @ Windsor Royal Station, Windsor UK
(c) The Grove-Gallery, Ealing, London (Solo)
2001 - (a) St. Raphael Gallery, Piccadilly, London
(b) The Grove-Gallery, Ealing, London (Solo)
(c) ArtLondon.com Gallery
(d) Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan Armenia. (Solo)
(e) First floor art gallery, Yerevan, Armenia
(f) Piere Schwarzenbach gallery, Canne, France
(g) Pitshanger Gallery, Ealing, London
2002 - Represented the Armenian Art Magazine in UK.
2003 - 2004 Gallery Akanat, Yerevan, Armenia.
2004 - Nicosia Cyprus
2004-2005 - The Grove-Gallery, Ealing, London (Solo)
2005 AOCC Yerevan, Armenia (Solo).
2005 Outer Temple Chambers, Strand, London (Solo).
2004 - 2005 Winner of the first prize for the best exhibition of the Grove Gallery, London.
2005 - Artist in residence of the Art Therapy department of NHS, London
2006 ARK Space London (Solo)
2006 Akademia Gallery, Yerevan, Armenia (Solo)
2007 Municipality of Yerevan, Personal Exhibition, September-October
2007 Armenian Biographical Encyclopedia, Who is Who
2007 Member of the International Art Association of UNESCO
2008 75th Anniversary of the Union of Armenian Artists, Yerevan
2008 One Nation, One Culture. Armenian Art, Yerevan
2008 In memory of Arshile Gorky, Minas Museum, Jajur, Armenia
2008 State Museum of Art and Literature, Yerevan, Armenia
Artour Oshakantsis Works are in:
The Armenian Cultural Center, Yerevan, Armenia
The Armenian Fine Arts Center, Yerevan
Modern Art Museum of Yerevan
Gallery of Stepanakert, Gharabagh, Armenia
Oshakan Town Hall, Armenia
Children's Centre of Art - Education, Abovian, SOS munkakan gyugh, Armenia
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, Ejmiatsin, Armenia
Charles Aznavour Private Collection, Paris, France
SOS Armenia Art Centre, Geneva, Switzerland
Museum Niepodlegloshi, Gallery Kontakt, Warsaw, Poland, Hotel Marriot, Warsaw
Alec Manookian Art Museum, Detroit
Belgian Art Centre, Detroit
Arlington Church, Washington DC
School of Art, Ann Arbour, Michigan
Gallery Minnotower Karamanukian, Ann Arbour, Michigan
Los Angeles Art Association
The Alberti Gallery, London
Anahit Association, London
Russian Art Gallery, London
Hayashen - CAIA, London
St.Raphael Gallery, London
ArtLondon.com Gallery, London
First floor art gallery, Yerevan, Armenia
Piere Schwarzenbach gallery, Canne, France
Galery Akanat, Yerevan, Armenia.
Armenian Art, Yerevan, Armenia.
Gallery Express Avantgarde, Moscow/ Vienna/ New York
Private Collections in:
Africa, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA, Former USSR and Armenia.