Eduard Kazarian

Eduard Kazarian: ‘My Work Brings Armenia and Kazakhstan Closer Together’

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YEREVAN / ALMATY — Eduard Kazarian is a Kazakhstani sculptor who creates works ranging in size from small to  monumental.

Born in 1964 in Almaty, he graduated from the Almaty State Theater and Art Institute in 1991. Since 1992, he has held more than 60 personal exhibitions in Kazakhstan and abroad, participated in collective projects, art festivals, international art residences, acted as a member of the jury of Kazakhstani and international art competitions and curator of Eurasia Sculpture Biennale, Almaty Kinetic Art Festival, represented Kazakhstan in the international project Reviving Humanity Memorial.

Kazarian is Laureate of the first independent Tarlan prize in 2000 in the “New Name: Hope” nomination in the field of fine arts. In 2012 he was Laureate of the national award “Person of the Year” in the nomination “People’s Love and Creative Achievements.” In 2018, he founded the Kazarian Art Center art space. It was awarded a special prize by the Organizing Committee of the annual Eurasian award “Choice of the Year” in the nomination “For creative achievements, significant contribution to the development of the cultural environment, promotion of fine arts.” In 2019, Kazarian was awarded the medal of the Ministry of Culture of Kazakhstan for his contribution to the development of the country’s culture.

His works are in the collections of museums in Kazakhstan, France and Spain; they have been exhibited in the US, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia, Belgium, Great Britain.

He works mainly with bronze, ceramics, steel. One of the main ideas of his work is reflections on the theme of the world, man, family, as well as the endless connection of all living things in nature.

Kazarian created a number of monumental works and public art projects in the urban and natural environment. He is also known for his tapestries, graphic sheets and jewelry. Kazarian considers exhibition activities to be a sphere that allows him to constantly experiment.

Work by Eduard Kazarian

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Dear Eduard, in 1998 I received a gift, a catalog of your works published in Almaty, and I really liked the reproductions of your works. Then I followed your work on the Internet and I am very glad that in Kazakhstan our compatriot is considered one of the most interesting sculptors of our time.

Indeed, thanks to catalogs and especially my works, I have many friends and connoisseurs of my work. Sometimes it seems to me that I am present in all places and countries where there are my works in collections and I am even in touch with people who see them.

About five years ago you opened your own studio in Almaty, where about 20 exhibitions are held annually. What role does it play in the cultural life of the city?

Yes, this fall the Kazarian Art Center turns six years old. This gallery has the broadest mandate, most of which are in the planning stages, as well as an art studio, etc. I did not immediately dare to name the center for myself but how everything will turn out, is, surely, my responsibility. Moreover, it is especially valuable for me now that the place known for its cultural events in Kazakhstan is associated with Armenia.

Work by Eduard Kazarian

One of your famous works is a sculpture of the Beatles. A few years ago, a replica of that sculpture appeared near a pub in the homeland of the Beatles in Liverpool. The Kazakh authorities demanded that the British copy be demolished as it had been an unauthorized copy. How did this story end?

Indeed, this story is both outrageous and comical. I would never have thought that England, with its strict European orders in art, would plagiarize  the sculpture of the Beatles in Almaty, which had been installed 15 years ago. But the fact remains. To be honest, I do not have much experience in solving such issues and do not yet know a lawyer who knows how to proceed, so the question is still in limbo.

Topics: sculpture

 

Your namesake from Yerevan, the late famous micro-miniaturist Eduard Kazarian (or Ter-Kazarian), created kinetic micro-sculptures. Please tell us about your own kinetic sculptures.

My parents told me that even before I was born they read an article about Eduard Kazarian, our miniaturist sculptor, and later even wrote him a letter about the impressions of his work and told that they also named their son Eduard, but did not receive an answer. But I have always admired his work and I even remember how in one interview he wrote with humor that the main thing for him is not to sneeze when doing micro-sculpture.

 

Art critic Ekaterina Reznikova once said that you are a master with your own recognizable style and language. Has anyone noticed a more specific language in your art?

Individuality and dissimilarity for creative people have always been one of the main tasks, and now this issue is no less important. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that there are a lot of artists in the world, I think that this does not require any special efforts. It is clear that we are not in an airless space and there are artists nearby with whose works you unwittingly correlate your own, just as they cannot fail to notice you, but this will never knock you down if you go your own way.

Eduard Kazarian and one of his works

 

You represent the art of Kazakhstan in the world, but in 2011 you were awarded the Gold Medal of the Ministry of Culture of Armenia for your contribution to the development of Armenian culture. How does your belonging to two cultures come to light?

I was born in Kazakhstan and in many respects got my outlook on life here, at the same time traveling with my parents to Armenia in my childhood, studying the first year of the Fanos Terlemezyan art school in Yerevan, communication with friends and relatives, spending time in Sevan, long walks on Karmir Blur, of course, this is all in me. I have many close friends in Kazakhstan and Armenia. To a certain extent, knowing both cultures and considering them my own, I think that my work brings Armenia and Kazakhstan closer together. Surely, at my foreign exhibitions I act as a Kazakh sculptor of Armenian origin, and I hope my works are another facet of both the art of Kazakhstan and Armenia.

 

Where are your ancestors from and how did they end up in Kazakhstan?

My relatives from my father’s side are mainly from the city of Sevan and the village of Varser. In the early 1950s, the whole family was deported to Siberia, Altai Krai during the Stalinist repressions. My dad went through all these tests as a child and he has a lot of stories about this time. At the same time, he did not lose optimism and very warmly recalled the people with whom they lived and went to visit these places more than once. Mom was born in Kazakhstan, in the city of Shu. Her parents were doctors and went where jobs took them. From my mother’s side, I got Russian and Greek roots. And mom and dad met and got married in Armenia at the Jermuk resort and then arrived in Almaty, where my mother lived.

 

Apparently, art is in your family. Two years ago, in Yerevan, I met your brother Ruben Kazaryan, who works in cinematography. And the others?

My brother and I kind of shared these paths; I am a sculptor, and he graduated from video journalism and shoots many films, mainly on social themes. My grandmother also painted all her life, although she was a pediatrician, an honored doctor of Kazakhstan. Once they presented me my granny’s pencil drawing: it was a professionally executed landscape. On my father’s side, there were also people close to art, and although he worked most of his life in managerial positions in trade and public catering, he received his first hardening while working at a factory.

 

On the cover of the aforementioned catalog, your signature is in Armenian. Sometimes we also see your initials in Armenian language…

Since 1991, I put my autograph on all my works — my initials or surname in Armenian letters. An autograph for me is also an integral part of the work, a kind of last chord and your responsibility before time. I learned the alphabet in Armenia and can write and read a little. Of course, my vocabulary gives me the opportunity to speak as much as possible on everyday topics, but mastering the language deeply remains my dream.

 

The Armenians are not new in Kazakhstani fine arts. In late 1960s sculptor Elena Mkhitaryan from Armenia worked in Almaty, Kazakhfilm made a documentary about her. I know the names of Elena Karamalova (1894-1981) and Volodia Grigoryan among the fine arts figures of Armenian origin in Kazakhstan. Now, besides you, I know the name of the artist and ceramist Elena Grigoryan. Are there others?

I can also remember Sarkis Sanosyan (1922-2004). Armenian art at the Abylai Kasteev State Museum of Arts in Almaty is represented by a number of artists such as Ivan Aivazovsky (Hovhannes Ayvazyan), Martiros Saryan, Minas Avetisyan, Hakob Hakobyan and other Armenian artists.

 

Since our newspaper is published in Boston, readers will be interested to know that your works have been exhibited in the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown. Who organized this exhibition of yours and what are your memories?

I had the opportunity to exhibit twice at the Armenian Museum of America. The first time in 1993 with graphic works and the second time in 1994, with bronze sculptures and graphics. And I am very proud of these exhibitions. I remember the impressive building of the museum and the very rich collection of carpets and other items related to Armenia. At that time, Gary Lind-Sinanian was in charge of the museum.

 

But in Armenia, as far as I know, you have not yet had an exhibition. Of course, organizing an exhibition of sculptures is not an easy task, but I still think it’s high time…

I hope this exhibition will take place someday. Surprisingly, it has been planned more than once and the places for the exposition have already been determined and a number of organizational issues have been resolved. Maybe my maximalism is to blame, because I thought that it was not enough just to make an exhibition, but it was necessary to bring large works and preferably more, that is, I wanted to exhibit a large-scale project, and such an exhibition requires a lot of investment and effort. Maybe it might be worth reconsidering this and starting small. Maybe.

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