"... everything depends on yourself,
on the sun with thousand rays inside yourself. All the rest is nothing.u
These fine words said once by Picasso about Matisse sound as especially idealistic and even naive in today ' Moscow after " perestroyka
In fact the present Moscow artistic life just proves otherwise. In general that artist is successful here, who reasonably and calmly uses his good knowledge on " the actual style problems of XX century". Serious gallery researchers and art critics are of the opinion, that only problems of the postconceptual aesthetic space can be considered as noteworthy. Less serious critics concentrate their attention on the ocean of " the commercial art ", calmly stylizing and imitating everything, what was once the real Art: from old Dutch painters to folk popular prints and pop art. Temperament, energy, sincerity and individuality, if they still exist in the context of particularly " traditional " painting in oil don't simply find their admirers and connoisseurs. Evidently only by this it can be explained a surprising fact, that until the present time the creative work of Suren Mkrtchyan regularly about 10 years taking part in Moscow exhibitions, had not been reflected in our press. By the way, there is no doubt, that his art merits better lot. In his powerful, light - bearing painting not only Picasso sun with thousand rays blazes, but there are in it a deep psychological approach, spiritual completeness and dramatic effect. For ages of his ascetic, self- sacrific and pure life in art Suren had passed a long way from the decorative and ornamental style of his early works to the real monumentality and sublimity of these paintings as " Pilgrim , " The Waiting and others. The way is of interest by this, that it has been passed by him in difficult life conditions, in a strange town, almost in a complete loneliness without outside help.
Suren Mkrtchyan was born in Tbilisi ( Georgia ) in 1952. One year after his family moved to Yerevan -the capital or Armenia, where he spent his childhood and youth. His father is head stage director of Sundukyan Yerevan theatre and his mother is physician. Suren was growing in the atmosphere, where love of art, adoration of theatre and painting reigned. Under 9 age he had studied at a music school, learning to play the violin, then he entered Kogeoyan art school. He remembers his training time to the present time as the best in
his life and as the most important for his future creative work. Traditional for Armenia high level of the artistic training was combined with the atmo-spere of the individual freedom in the painting searches. At the school trials of the abstract painting, passions for Kandinsky ana Malevich were encouraged. A fine library of his father, who was collecting everything regarding to the modern art, helped Suren to be well informed about the newest painting. On leaving school he entered the Institute of Theatre and Art in Yerevan. Memory of this time is not so radiant because of depersonalization and officialization of the traditional soviet training system. On graduating from the institute he's gone to Moscow expecting to exhibit his paintings and to enter painters ' union. Instead of this he lost 10 years : he had been taken into army, after return to Moscow, not having own apartment was renting parts ot room, not was doing the job he was trained. He was engaged in graphics, as he hadn't place to engage in painting.
One day when he was driven out lodgings in the usual fashion, he met his future wife who played maybe a deciding role in his life. From this time the painter receives at last a chance to engage in painting, meets empathy and comprehension. He works 14 - 16 hours every day with pleasure, stopping only for exercises with barbell and dumb bell among his canvases and paints. He keeps away from delights and temptations of the capital life not participating even in the " assemblages " of their colleagues , what is considered as obligatory for career of every young painter. I remember a shy and queer man, who came to me in 1989 for join the " poster section " ( Malaya Gruzinskaya, 28 ) and brought his works even then surprised by energy and expression. Many art critics considered them as pure " armenians ". In fact it was simply an inevitable period of " storm and onset " after many years, when he couldn't work. At this time he payed tribute to a subtle graphics with prevalence of drawing over colour. Attention to details, complicated form contradicted his internal striving after monumental and exalted images. Along with outstanding expression these images inherently possessed a high degree of theatrical conventionality, from wich he will be deliver later. But even in these i* early works there was an unusual attractive luminosity. Built on the contrasts of dark and light tones within a warm golden- brown colour scheme, these paintings radiated if on the inside the vivid bursts of yellow, lemon and pink
colours. In general flourish, blow of brush, hand gesture play a great role in Suren paintings. From beginning they were the principal " structural elements " of his composition. He strives to keep in the painting structure all the chances of the creative process - paints' leaks, splashes, chance dabs, spots, texture of rough canvas ( " sacking ") etc. As though with "rage" he goes at the canvas, as though spontaneously he pours paints. But even from the outset of the work the painter sees in his " subconsciousness " the final goal - that image or impression, that psychological situation, wich he wont to reflect on the canvas. Here he simultaneuosly makes
a start from Delacroix and Rauschenberg. It's the most surprising that in the childhood his most loved painter was Toulouse - Lautrec.
Maybe he attracted Suren by sharpness and uncommonness of his images, by rupture with decorous vision or reality and by his famous phrase: " at last I have forgotten to paint ! " Suren also would like to " have forgotten to paint " while keeping the maximal expressiveness. In the painting he searches for possibility to synthesize abstraction and figurative sense, considered decisions and chance discoveries. The painter himself sometimes calls his technique " the magic realism " not bearing the word " magic " in its " surrealistic " definition as in Dali and Magritt but rather as some artistic gift or suggestion, when he can say more with " one dab ", with paint energy, association and hint than with meticulous and boring details 1 finishing. Here his personal aesthetics adjoint the aesthetics of expressionism. Suren also uses the pure " expres-sionistic " technique of a various plastic interpretation of his " subjects within the framework of one painting. " Heavy ", dense paints applied on the canvas characterize some subjects ", while light, aerial as if " incorporeal " tones symbolize the poetical image of the others. These unexpected and capricious contrasts sharply increase dramatism of action. Combined with a majestic archaics of images and emotional effects of chiaroscuro - they as a whole create the easy recognizable atmosphere of Suren Mkrtchyan mysteries. Over the years the increasingly more role in Suren painting begins to play pure moral aspects. His intentions on " purity " and exaltation", particularly in feminine images; peculiar "chastity " of nude; refusal of erotism, intentionality, " sexiness "; sharp, deep psychologism are the signs of his talent maturity and self-confidence. The aim of his work is the expression of this " something ", alternatively called "state ", " existence " and what evidently is available in films of Frederico Fellini. The painter persistently experimentalizes with the colouristic and tohal relationship. His colour scheme becomes more complex and more light-bearing. In some mysterious way his paintings even made in the dark tones, are nevertheless left penetrated by the sun and the light, as it you had stood in the semi-darkness in one of the old armenian cathedrals and the sun had leaked through the all fissures and windows. On herself stage Suren plays variants of some old endless drama. He's not afraid of reproaches in " unactuality" , as he believes, that the good painting is always actual. He continues to go his own way without having doubts in his regularity. The painter speaks : " I haven't yet done the great thing. It seems to me, that I as yet kneels, but once I'll get on my feet .
Vitalij Volf, Painter,
Moscow, November 1996