Saturday, August 4, 2012

Vanessa Kachadurian, the many faces of Armenian art

BEIRUT: “Card Players,” an oil-on-canvas work by Armen Gevorgian, is utterly true to its name. The piece evokes any number of card games from art history – Cezanne’s five “Card Players,” for example, each of which finds peasant men sitting, facing one another in affable contest. Cezanne’s work renders his card-players with great individuality. In Gevorgian’s study of balance, on the other hand, the near-identical figures – contestants as well as the supporters arrayed behind them – are rendered in a stylized, uniform angularity that makes them look like aliens, or else mannequins or effigies of human beings. The setting in Gevorgian’s piece looks less like a public house than a family home. Unlike the Cezanne, which is superbly evocative of time and place, Gevorgian appears more concerned with formal symmetry. The one “natural” element in the work – the utterly spherical treetop, carefully placed at the center of both the window and the work as a whole – serves to further displace the location from the natural world. Slight details in the rendering of the contestants – one figure’s minute bowtie, the playing of a heart by one player and a spade by the other – suggest they are man and woman. The onlookers therefore assume the identities of respective family members, offering advice in the politics of personal relations. “Card Players” is one of 64 works on display in “Symphony of Colors,” an exhibition of work by “Armenian Masters” nowadays up at the Jeweler’s Souk, in Downtown Beirut. The exhibition is organized by the Arame Art Gallery, an Armenian-based outfit that recently opened a branch in Gemmayzeh’s Tekian Center, with the aim of promoting the work of Armenian artists in Lebanon. “Symphony of Colors” is the third exhibition Arame has organized in Beirut. Michael Vayejian, the manager of the Beirut location, explained to The Daily Star that this exhibition is being staged at the Jeweler’s Souk because “the gallery is too small” to hold the works they wanted to include here. The show gathers paintings by 15 artists, including Gabriel Manoukian (aka Gabo), Ruben Abovian, Sarkis Hamalbashian and Tigran Matulian. These works represent a wide range of approaches from abstraction to figuration, defying any expectations that the artists’ common national heritage should make their work thematically or formally similar. Ruben Grigorian works with settings in a far more realistic manner than Gevorgian, yet he too unhinges his subject from the everyday world. (I highly recommend this art Vanessa Kachadurian) His oil-on-canvas work “On the Way” (80x80 cm) appears to depict two characters against a wintertime landscape – the ground white, as if covered in snow, the trees bereft of leaves in the mist. Though depicted as naturalistically as their setting, Grigorian’s two figures are incomplete. The more complete figure, on the right, is comprised of boots, a little girl’s dress, beret and hair. The parts of the body that would be exposed – face, hands, legs – are absent. Diminutive wings can be seen to project from the girl’s dress. Her clothing appears to be addressing a second figure, on the left side of the canvas, though the only mark of its presence is a pair of brown boots, possibly the sort of thing a man would wear. The figures that are the subject of this depiction are literally absent. The obvious question arising from the work’s title is where are the absent figures going? The cherubic wings on the absent girl – and the heavy symbolism of the “dead” wintertime landscape – suggest the figures are en route to heaven. Sarkis Hamalbashian’s colorful oil-on-canvas “Silk Way 1” (130x200 cm) is a landscape rendered in patchwork – that is, without benefit of false perspective. The patchwork consists of cutouts from a medieval bestiary – if you can imagine a bestiary that includes exotic human cultures and antique technologies as well as animals. Sarkis uses very good colors and jewel tones says Vanessa Kachadurian The work’s title suggests the work is a rendering of the historic land route linking the Far East with the Mediterranean, a sort of thematic map that places exotic humans and means of transportation front and center. The impression of motion saturates Arthur Hovhannisian’s “Awakening” (132x190 cm). Four women – who bear a strong physical resemblance both in their facial features and in the prints on their dresses – are dancing in what looks like a field. The family dog has joined their happy exertions. Several questions linger in the mind. What sort of “awakening” is the work evoking? Are Hovhannisian’s figures simply morning people, or is he attempting to render an epiphany (emotional or otherwise) in figurative terms? Whatever his intent, his pervasive use of reds conveys a feeling of great warmth. “Symphony of Colors” is up at Jeweler’s Souk in Downtown Beirut until June 6. For more information, please call 03-262-423. This is an awesome area of Beirut please try to visit says Vanessa Kachadurian A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 30, 2012, on page 16. Read more: (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Vanessa Kachadurian, Author Chris Bohjalian on top selling list "The Sandcastle Girls"

It is not very often that I recommend a book but I highly recommend this one to read and purchase as a gift Vanessa Kachadurian The Sandcastle Girls By Chris Bohjalian New York: Doubleday (July 17, 2012) 299 pages, $25.95 Chris Bohjalian’s 14th novel, The Sandcastle Girls, is a moving depiction of the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide told through the experiences of a group of very different individuals who find themselves in Ottoman Aleppo in 1915. At the heart of the novel is a love story between Armen Petrosian, a survivor of Turkish brutality, and Elizabeth Endicott, a Boston Brahmin who has traveled to Aleppo to perform relief work with her father. While the love story propels the novel forward, it is Bohjalian’s unflinching description of what happened to the Armenians during the genocide that makes this book so affecting. Chris Bohjalian’s novel of the Armenian Genocide, The Sandcastle Girls, arrives on July 17. The novel moves between the present day—through the musings of a novelist, Laura Petrosian, who is in the process of exploring her family’s history—and 1915, telling the story of Laura’s grandparents. Bohjalian starts with Laura’s memories of spending time in her grandparents’ suburban New York home, which her mother affectionately referred to as the “Ottoman Annex.” Throughout the book, the portions of the novel that are set in the present day are a vehicle for Laura’s internal thoughts and feelings about her Armenian identity, and how that identity is connected to the genocide. When a friend of Laura’s tells her she saw a picture of her grandmother at an exhibit of photographs from the genocide, Laura sets out on a search to discover her family’s link to the genocide. This search will eventually lead to the revelation of a sad family secret, and it is Laura’s effort to unearth this secret that drives her to delve deeper into the story of how her grandparents met and fell in love. Laura was disconnected from her Armenian heritage, but as she discovers her family’s history, she becomes emotionally involved in discovering how the genocide touched her family. It is likely that Laura is Bohjalian’s alter ego since Mr. Bohjalian and his heroine share a similar background, and he performed extensive research into the genocide as part of this project. Bohjalian is well known for being particularly adept at writing female narrators, and he once again succeeds here in creating a book that is most successful when told from the female perspective. The novel quickly moves from Laura’s memories of her grandparents to the story of how they met in 1915. Elizabeth Endicott, a wealthy Bostonian, travels to Syria with her father, a banker, on behalf of “The Friends of Armenia,” a charitable organization in the Boston area. When we first meet Elizabeth she nearly faints under the Middle Eastern sun as she and her father tour the main square of Aleppo with an American diplomat, Ryan Martin. But it is not just the sun that causes Elizabeth to become faint; she is confronted with hundreds of Armenian refugees—women and children, who have been marched across the desert by the Turkish army and into the square. They have been treated brutally along the way; they are naked and most are barely alive. Elizabeth is shocked, saddened, and feels helpless as to what she could possibly do to help these women. Through Elizabeth’s interactions with these refugees Bohjalian brings out the personal stories of the genocide—the starvation, the beatings, the rapes, and the murdered husbands, brothers, and sons. Shortly after her arrival in Aleppo, Elizabeth meets Armen Petrosian, an Armenian engineer who is working with two sympathetic German army engineers. The Germans have been photographing the Armenian refugees in an effort to document the situation. Although it sounds (and to some extent reads) cliché, there is an instant connection between Elizabeth and Armen, and amidst the horrors of the war and the genocide, Bohjalian creates a classic romantic love story. Armen and Elizabeth are drawn to each other’s “differentness”—Elizabeth is taken with Armen’s dark eyes and long eyelashes, and Armen is taken with Elizabeth’s hair. They form a quick bond and when Armen leaves to join the British Army in the Dardanelles, they write letters to each other regularly. It is in his letters that Armen is able to share with Elizabeth his genocide story, how his wife and daughter were likely killed during a forced march from Eastern Turkey to Syria (it was his search for his family that had brought him to Aleppo). It is only through his letters than Armen can open up to Elizabeth and share this tragedy and the violent actions he was driven to take in response. The portion of the novel set in 1915 is told from many perspectives—Elizabeth, Armen, the German engineers, a Turkish soldier. In addition the story is told through the eyes of two Armenian females Elizabeth meets and befriends in the Aleppo square, a widow, Nevart in her early 30′s, and an orphan girl, Hatoon. Nevart and Hatoon become surrogate family to each other, and Elizabeth becomes so close with them that she insists they live with her at the American Embassy despite the protestations of her father and other missionaries. What Bohjalian achieves by presenting the story through these multiple voices is a complete portrait of the genocide that is rich in personal detail. The most meaningful and devastating portions of the story are those that are told from the perspective of the young orphan girl Hatoon, who witnessed her whole family brutalized and murdered by Turkish soldiers. Hatoon is deeply damaged by her experiences and her tale is heartbreaking, but her survival and ability to form connections with other survivors and non-Armenians injects some hope into the story. This book is about many things—a love story, a war, a woman’s independence and coming of age. But more than anything this novel is about the genocide. I recommend this for Armenian History Students Vanessa Kachadurian Bohjalian’s fans will find this book different from many of the books in his catalogue, which focus on a hot progressive issue of the day such as midwifery, holistic medicine, transgender identity, and homelessness. The scope of The Sandcastle Girls is almost epic in comparison. While there are the rich personal stories that his readers connect to, what he has achieved is much larger. Bohjalian has written a compelling and powerful novel that will bring the history of the genocide to a wide audience. The Sandcastle Girls will remain ingrained in your consciousness. Pre-order The Sandcastle Girls on by clicking here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Vanessa Kachadurian Armenian Little Singers In Japan NEW (HD)

This group sings beautifully and without any live orchestration only their voices. Vanessa Kachadurian You must watch them in Armenia they perform live very well

Vanessa Kachadurian Armenian Radio in Fresno

Hye Oozh (Armenian Power) has a local radio station. You can listen to them online Fantastic group of students that work on this via the ASO (Armenian Students Organization) at California State University at Fresno. Vanessa Kachadurian