By Nair Yan
YEREVAN (Azg) – Fifty-eight paintings by Egyptian-Armenian painter Ashod Zorian (1905-1970) were brought to Armenia’s National Picture Gallery by Edmond Y. Azadian this October. Azadian had written about Zorian’s works in the 1960s, while the artist was still living. He explained about Zorian’s past. The artist’s talent evinced itself early on, as he made carvings on tree trunks as a child. He served art at the price of remaining hungry or even martyrdom. Nature was Zorian’s first teacher.
Zorian’s father was a prosperous lawyer. He remembered how the Turks came and took his father, placing him on a horse, supposedly to save him. In fact, he was killed later. A Kurdish family adopted Zorian and his sister, turning them into a shepherd and maid, respectively. Later Turks adopted them, and gave Ashod the name Huseyin. His mother gave him some gold, saying that you will need them, my son. Ashod managed to save these coins until the end of his life, always keeping them in his pocket, and fearing the Turks might still come to take them. His mind started to go at the end of his life.
When Armenian orphans began to be assembled throughout the world, the rich offered to provide money for talented orphans to be sent to Europe to study. Zorian was one of these, and afterwards came to Egypt and again was supported by rich Armenians.
In Egypt, when state exhibitions were held, there were only one or two Arab painters of note, and these were Zorian’s students. The remainder were all Armenians, and Zorian was the most talented of the latter. He was always highlighted in the Egyptian press. He led the way for another generation of Armenian artists.
After the former queen of Egypt was divorced from King Faruk, she took lessons in Zorian’s studio. The caricaturist Edmond Kiraz, who received great honors and awards from the French government, was one of Zorian’s students. Others include abstract artist Yasmin (Hasmig Ballarian), Rose Papazian, Atom Egoyan’s mother and father, Joseph and Shushan Egoyan, Garbis (Yetvart Yaghjian), Nora Ipekian Azadian and Shant Avedisian (whose works are on display in American and British art museums).
Zorian had been separated from his sisters when they were placed in orphanages. He found late in life that they were in America, and came to spend time with them. He even created artworks while in Worcester, Mass. When the sisters understood that Zorian was dying, they asked Azadian to go to Egypt in 1970 to prepare the paperwork so that 100 of his works would be donated to Armenia. The Soviet embassy had to process this and it took four years before the pictures could arrive in Armenia through the good offices of Dr. K. Mazloumian.