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New Heights For Sculptor Tokatlian

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  • New Heights For Sculptor Tokatlian


    By Thomas Harutunyan, Moscow,
    15 September 2013

    Mr. Harutunyan, a prominent art expert in Russia, is the international
    relations director at the Belayevo Art Gallery in Moscow, where
    Lebanese-Armenian artist Raffi Tokatlian's work will be exhibited Oct.

    16 to 27. Harutunyan is also the curator of the exhibition. Hamo
    Moskofian,'s roving reporter, helped organize the

    Like a comet, Raffi Tokatlian burst into the fine art world with his
    bronze series titled "Myth & Reality". His work has been exhibited
    in Lebanon, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, the US to great reception. And
    next month in Moscow.

    Venetians still remember his triumphal exposition in ˛alazzo
    Zenobio, the ancient palace on the canal, where the enormous
    mirrors reflected Tokatlian's phantasmagoric bronze images. In
    New-York the Lebanese-Armenian artist was named a master of
    revitalized surrealism while his ingenious art was described as

    According to American critic Jonathan Goodman, "Tokatlian is an
    impressive artist whose sculptures inhabit a magical place in which
    form and emotion mix. Tokatlian's imagination is sympathetic in the
    best sense of the world; he embraces humanity in its widest meaning,
    incorporating but also transcending the disturbances of man. This
    gives his art its imaginative meaningfulness."

    Tokatlian's bright and vivid imagination creates images with
    humanistic content, sympathy and compassion. These characteristics
    appear particularly in such works as "Prayer", "Liberation of the
    Spirit", "Third Eye", "The Faith", "Warning from a Black Destiny for
    Mankind". In Tokatlian's work the statues are not obedient entities,
    but sensuous, impulsive, flexible beings who charges us with the burden
    of interrogation, dexterously spinning the flywheel of psychoanalysis,
    and preceding an almost universal ambivalence.

    The human figure is the main character of the sculptor's allegorical
    cycle. Such works as "Secret behind the Mask" and "Disappearance of
    a Kingdom" can be considered unique, judging by their emotional impact.

    Despite their small size, the sculptures are monumental in their
    significance. The professional eye, at once, notices their organic
    compatibility with, for example, a city park or an exhibition hall.

    Perhaps "Entering a City" will be the next stage in the artist's

    Tokatlian was born to an Armenian family in Beirut. His artist
    grandfather cultivated the love of art in the young man who grew up
    on his grandfather's stories of the forced emigration to Lebanon from
    his homeland during the First World War, of Greek mythology and of
    the Renaissance painters. Young Tokatlian's interest in mythology
    and sculpture led him to the wall paintings of Pompeii, to the
    ancient temples of Greece. On a trip to Egypt he discovered pharaonic
    sculptures. In Italy he absorbed the masterpieces of Renaissance art,
    particularly Donatello.

    After graduating from the design department of the Beirut University,
    Tokatlian furthered his artistic studies at the School of Fine Arts
    in Paris. There he discovered Rodin and Giacometti, Bosch and the
    Surrealists. The last school fundamentally affected his art world
    view. Returning home full of ideas and creative vitality, Tokatlian
    lost himself in his work and began experimenting with bronze.

    Consuming images from Greco-Roman mythology, Tokatlian successfully
    adapts them to new conditions. Before starting molding and casting,
    he considers an image for a long time and then draws many sketches
    of the future work. They hint at his sculptural aims and uncover the
    emotional essence of the work.

    Tokatlian's painting technique is varied: he uses pencil and pastel,
    water color and charcoal, China ink, even ground coffee.

    He could probably be compared to Renaissance artists in temper,
    profundity of thought, internal charm and creative rage. Tokatlian
    isalso fascinated by writing, composing music, and climbing mountains:
    he has climbed Armenia's Mount Ararat and Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

    Being an enthusiast of Russian art and culture-this was
    substantially contributed by his research trips to Saint Petersburg
    and Moscow-Tokatlian is eager to exhibit his work in Russia. The
    exhibition--at Moscow's Belyaevo Gallery--will contain 19 bronze images
    and 25 graphic works. The collection will include bronze heroes of
    Greek and Roman mythology whose incredible inflections of the body,
    irreproachable aesthetics, convincing illusionism of movements,
    enigmatic charisma, obeying the viewer's imagination come alive in
    real time and space.