Renowned Armenian painter Hakob Hakobyan passed away on Fri., March 8 in Yerevan. Hakobyan’s art earned him the honorary title of People’s Artist of Soviet Armenia and a State Prize of Armenia in 1977.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1923 to Armenian refugees from Aintab, the young Hakobyan was shielded from the horrors that his parents and grandparents experienced during the genocide. He was sent to study at the Melkonian Educational Institute in Cyprus, and later the Cairo High School of Fine Arts, followed by the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. He participated in international contests and festivals for young artists, receiving second place in the Fourth World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) in Bucharest, Hungary, in 1953.
His early works were characterized by small-size oil, namely still lifes and one-figure compositions in interiors, often times portraying sympathy for the “little man.” The paintings of this period depict the isolation of the people portrayed.
In 1961, Hakobyan moved to Armenia, where he was elected a member of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Armenia just six years later. The paintings of this new period were marked by an original style, as Hakobyan was attempting to assimilate into the new homeland. His depiction of Armenia’s natural landscape and its various villages and cityscapes mark a vital stage in Hakobyan’s progress as a Soviet Armenian painter.
As ArmSite.com explains, Hakobyan’s work is “evocative of the ‘other side’ of the traditions of Armenian culture,” which include the constructivist and rational principle of form building. “His artistic progress is an example of the consecutive and purposeful development of the spiritual world and humanistic aspirations of an artist in our own day.”
In 1987, Hakobyan was awarded with the USSR State Prize for a series of watercolor paintings that stood out with a high degree of artistry. Some of his most prominent works include “Park Near St. Hripsime Temple,” “Echmiadzin” (1976); “Vineyard in Winter” (1979); “In Artist’s Studio” (1980); “Forlorn Corner” (1980); and “Garni Gorge” (1980).
Some of these pieces, as well as others, are currently on display as part of a new exhibition of Soviet and contemporary art from Central Asia and the Caucasus at the Sotheby’s auction house in London, called “At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia.”