Vruyr Galstyan
MEMORY
Vruyr Galstyan
MEMORY

Details & Cataloguing

At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia

London

Vruyr Galstyan
1924-1996
MEMORY
signed and dated 73; signed, titled and dated 1973 on the reverse
oil on canvas
117 by 81cm., 46 by 32in.

Provenance

Private Collection, London

Literature

Ellen Gaifedjian, Vruyr Galstyan, Yerevan 2008, p. 15, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Throughout his career Vruyr Galstyan has used colour in a variety of ways to explore in depth the complex concepts of man’s position in space and time. His stylistic approach in the 1960s can be seen to be distinct from that in his later period of the 1970s and 1980s.

The artist poses questions and searches for answers in his works, which usually fall within the genre of portraiture. They feature a limited number of stock characters: Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Yegishe Charents, clowns and self-portraits. However, his interest in these figures does not lie in their personal narrative. Despite repetition, in every work the characters are presented differently, as his exploration of the man's role in the world continues. In each of Galstyan's works the characters convey different messages as the futility and transience of their existence become evident, enchanced by the use of a non-naturalistic colour palette and thick contours.

Both Galstyan’s early and late periods are characterised by the dominance of whites and blacks. However, while his 1960s compositions have a muted harmony of pastel hues, he increasingly preferred contrasting and almost violent colours in his later career. Memory, 1973, is a cornerstone piece of Vruyr’s later period. It is in essence a self-portrait and is central to the development of his mature oeuvre. In this work, the artist explores the painting medium itself, through a dense application of paint and an intense and contrasting colour palette. The thick black contours remain from his earlier works and now serve to separate the contrasting colour shapes that construct the pictorial plane. In Memory, Vruyr develops a complex approach to the linearity of form and the interplay of colour planes by striking an improbable fusion between Modernist discourse and the visual language of deeply traditional Armenian medieval illuminated manuscripts and carpet patterns.

Catalogue note written by Sabina Sadova.

At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia

London