Album – Eduard Isabekyan (B.Haytayan), arm, rus, eng. – E., 1985

Posted on Apr 16, 2019 in Uncategorized_en

The art of Saryan, Arakelian and Kojoyan occupied a prominent place in the annals of the Soviet Armenian painting and had great influence on the painters of the early Soviet period. The artists of the younger generation began to paint using mainly their philosophical ideas, principles, artistic manners and style. And only a few of them tried to find their own style and the ways of expression typical to it. Among these few the name of the People’s Artist Edward Issabekian must be mentioned in the first place, as his art is one of the most interesting phenomenon of our culture.
Already in 1930-s Issabekian’s art gained the public attention in the 1930’s thanks to his deep understanding of life, romanticism and boldness of style. In his early works (”At the Seaside” sketched 1937, ”Self-Portrait” 1939, ”Kidnapping” 1941) is obvious the influence of the 19th century French romantic painters, especially that of Gericault and Delacroix. Later these influences together with the experience of many years and aesthetic views formed Issabekian the painter.
The portrait-composition ”The Gypsy with a Parrot” with its delicate combinations of color and spontaneity of perception is the typical example of the painter’s work of the early period.
Even a glimpse on Issabekian’s work is enough to see that the base of his art is the reality of human and objective world. Even for the sake of the highest artistic principles he doesn’t give up this reality. And even creating an allegoric picture he doesn’t lose his sense of realism. Realism is his main artistic credo. His works breathe with optimism and faith in man and humanity.
In the Soviet Armenian painting Issabekian’s art is distinguished by the exclusive multisidedness of his art: simple, delicate, lyrical sketches, complex, and psychological characters, large-sized canvases on patriotic historical themes, wonderful landscapes depicting the nature of his land. And typical to all these harmony of architectural monuments and the works precise design, vividness of color, comes are not only the result of his professional positional proportionality, real sense of voluskill, but also are inner needs, artistic principles for him.
Starting his career of a painter during the years of the Great Patriotic War, Issabekian created canvases breathing with high patriotic pathos (”The Red Army in an Armenian village” 1941, ”A Battle for the City” 1942, ”Tanya” 1942). Heroic romanticism, rich color gamut are typical to his works of this period.
A bright example of the painter’s creative maturity is his mother’s portrait (1944) – one of the best works in the Armenian realistic portraiture. For Issabekian himself, this portrait proved turning point in his art.
The theme of the Great Patriotic War found its expression in the works of many artists, but we must admit that not all of them are successful. In this aspect Issabekian’s two portraits of Tanya done different years are distinguished from all others and considered to be one of the best portraits in the history of Soviet portraiture. They are not concerned with flattering or giving magnificence to the sitter but with an essential humanity. It’s amazing how these two portraits are different. In the first portrait the painter creates a natural atmosphere, there is no showiness, even the onlooker feels himself as a part of the portrait. In the second portrait there is an invisible barrier between the onlooker and the sitter. These two different approaches which are the complement of one another in creating the image of the Russian girl, testify to the artist’s talent.
Among the works of that period the most remarkable one is the compositional landscape ”Horovel” (The Ploughman’s Song) 1954 – a canvas of epic strength. The general plan of form and colour is so bold, that subject gives Issabekian freedom to introduce a multitude of beautiful details. a splendid landscape distance with mountains, fields and uninterminable blue of the sky.
The development of the historical subject in the Soviet Armenian painting lags behind the rest of the genres. But one must not forget to mention Issabekian’s merit in this field. His canvases bring forth moral and aesthetic, actual problems and give their solution. He praises the optimism of his own people and invincibility of its power. The same theme is repeated in different canvases each time finding a new expression and sounding (”David-Beck”1943, ”The Battle of Avarair” 1948, ”The revolt of Haghpat in 1903” 1955, ”An Answer to Hazkert” 1960). A special place in Issabekian’s art occupies the canvas ”An Answer to Hazkert”. It is the embodiment of the painter’s artistic conception. The long perspective of arches, the setting of a number of figures in space, the expressiveness and variety of gestures equally command admiration.
The theme is taken from the Armenian history. The Persian king demanded from Armenians to change their religion, which would mean the loss of government for Armenians. The council of philosophers, military leaders, priests, soldiers and representatives of common people unanimously announced ”No”.
The strict simplicity and the epic strength impart deep emotionality to this work. Rich colour gamut, vividness and vigour are the main characteristics of this painting, which is a bright example of the modern interpretation of a classic theme.
Issabekian is tightly connected with the modern art and always follows the changes of its development. In 1960-70s his art underwent some changes in the sphere of color and this period resulted in creation of a number of landscapes depicting his homeland – ”The Old Man from Byourakan”, ”Artavazdick Church” 1957, – village scenes bathing in light – ”Washing on the Riverbank” 1957, – war-scenes evoking sad memories – ”At the Canal”, ”They didn’t Return” 1965, – canvases depicting our tragic past – ”Eternal Anxiety”, – subtle, lyrical female images – ”Take Care While Setting Foot on” 1969.
Even this incomplete list of works is enough to testify to the multisidedness of his interests as a painter, to his unique gift of creating philosophical, psychological, symbolic images.
His genre paintings come to prove once more the width of Issabekian’s interests and the deepness of his talent (”The Nude”, ”Bathing”, ”On the Riverbank”). They all depict the scenes and types of common life with force of talent that can animate a composition to the eye.
In 1970s the art of Issabekian, his creative talent came to its culmination. The canvases of these years express all his love towards his native land and towards life. (”Artavazd and Cleopatra” 1980, ”Athletes while Training” 1978, ”Noah and his Sons” 1982).
A remarkable place in Issabekian’s art occupies landscapes. His landscapes give a complete portrait of his own land. Here the artist paints the part of his homeland he knows and loves best. Restrained color gamut is typical for these canvases. (”In the Gorge of Byourakan” 1956, ”A Scene from Garny” 1958, ”Khendzoresk” 1962, ”An Autumn tree” 1977, ”A Landscape: Bzhni” 1982).
He depicts his motherland, its colors, people, mountains, rivers. There is nothing of unusual interest in the subject matter: what makes it good is the sense of vast space created by the silhouettes of pink hills and high mountains against the blue sky. The language of Issabekian’s landscapes is clear and quite comprehensive to any Armenian as it is the expression and the result of an Armenian way of thinking, and Armenian soul.
The series ”Troubled Horses” reveals romantic nature of Issabekian-painter. In the history of painting the theme of horses was not once touched upon. Horses always are considered to be the symbols of fight and freedom. In the canvases ”Bathing Horses: At he Bridge of Oshakan” 1963, ”On the Bank of the Araz” 1975, ”Troubled Horses” 1977 more expressively is revealed the boldness and wild temperament of Issabekian as a painter.
Issabekian is also a good master of graphics. Both his thick or light lines express the slightest nuances of ”man and nature” relation. Here he is the real follower of Saryan and Kojoyan. His works on book graphics are one of interesting pages in the Armenian art history. His graphics illustrations are maked from rich imagination and expressiveness. Indeed, illustrations to the books ”Vardanank” by Demirchian and ”Mekhitar Sparapet” by Khanzadian (1952, 1963) are distinguished for their originality.
Plastic expressiveness of lines, complex and dynamic metamorphosis in motion are the main features of his graphic works. The portrait of the painter’s wife, Arpenick Nalbandian, deserves attention for its ingenuity.
Issabekian’s love for his native land, his deep patriotism are always present in his paintings. He often remembers his native town, Igdir, and these memories are like a chain of sweet dreams, where everything is the same as many, many years ago. And in the age of seventy Issabekian tried to recreate on the canvas the world of his childhood, the city where he was born. The canvas ”Wedding Feast, From Koghb to Igdir” 1983 is a deeply lyrical composition. Memories of the sweet old days give an easy mood to the canvas, which is marked for its psychological and ethnographic exactness, deep lyricism. It is indeed a painting, novel about the lost homeland and love.
The artistic career of Issabekian is long and fruitfull in all its stages. Today’s reality, history of his own people, the nature of his native country are the main sources of his deeply national art. Together with the life of Armenian people, its historic past, Issabekian, being an artistic of modern times, expresses the urgent problems of his times in his works.
Thanks to all these the art of Edward Issabekian occupies a prominent place in the annals of the Soviet Armenian Art.


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