New “Bear” by Ara Alekyan appeared in the Charles Aznavour Square near “Moscow” cinema. We met him there, where the author of the statue himself was washing his creature. Following his work, and trying not to interrupt him, we talked to the sculptor, who passed a unique color to our city.
Mr. Alekyan, are you restoring the “Man”?
Yes, I’m fixing it, as children climb on it, move and cracks emerge.
Do you periodically come here and look after them?
Every time, each week I do this.
How about the statues, which are not already in Armenia?
Thanks Goodness, they are in safe hands in Europe, as my works are highly appreciated there. Statues don’t need me there, the state or an individual very carefully covers all the issues. The problem is here, in our country.
People are a bit brutal to the statues, in the end, they are not meant for measuring strength. They are statues, by which one should admire, they should make people happy, that’s all.
Where is the ox?
It’s in Istanbul now.
How did it appear there?
It was taken for an Expo, then it was bought. Currently it’s in the center of Istanbul.
Why a “Bear” this time?
I needed to make a bear, it’s the symbol of everything, it’s not just an animal. I made a smaller one, but it stayed in Yerevan for 10-15 days, then was moved to Brussels.
Does the idea of the statue come from materials at hand or as a result of a particular inspiration?
It happened that the metal hinted me what to make, but very frequently I choose the theme and start collecting necessary metals.
Do you have a more preferred work?
No, I don’t. I love all of them with special devotedness and do it with love, and also part with them with love. I don’t suffer. I have few works at home at the moment, 2-3.
Which works did you keep closer?
I have a “Christ”, a “Fish,” which I gave to my wife, she hung it in the kitchen, two “Beetles,” which are lamps, I light them in the evening, they look very nice.
Do you easily give them?
No, while giving I’m very gloomy. I give them only to very close people, very few of them, only to those, who are very precious to me.
Did you have an order in Armenia?
Only once—the camera before “Shoghakat” TV. They ordered it. As for other works, I freely and crazily created them. Then God decided their destinies, either being sold or exhibited, or taken to other countries.
I have an impression that you love Charles Aznavour Square for your statues. Many or your works have been placed here for the first time.
You are right, there is something cordial in this place, then it’s the center of our city, heart of our city, who doesn’t love the heart?
Which was the most constructive criticism you heard about your statues?
You know, I regret that it was very little, any maybe didn’t even occur. Every time a new work is placed, I follow media outlets, and not a single artist criticizes them, or generally discusses it. I have the impression, that there is no any art critic in our country. Simply journalists come and talk to me, praise and leave. But it shouldn’t be so.
Are you ready to listen to criticism?
Of course, the most interesting is born during the criticism, so that the artist knows which his next step will be, what he should do, where his mistake was, what he should correct.
In this case how do you correct your mistakes? Is it an easy job to look from the side objectively? Isn’t there any threat to be repeated or making the same mistake?
I took that burden on me. For instance, about 7 years ago I made the “Ox”, I brought it here, and I didn’t feel in the studio that there was something wrong with it, which I didn’t like. After it was placed here, I disassembled and assembled and welded it again, but when they bought and took it to Istanbul, I corrected it, made it ideal and only after that I calmed down.
Where are your statues Mr. Alekyan?
Four monumental works are placed in Brussels, two in Russia—two-meter high “Ox,” a big “Spider” in Moscow, 1.5 times bigger than that in Yerevan. That spider was rather original, as it was made by metal from their plant, which was exhibited in Dusseldorf, was widely recognized and then was returned to Moscow. As for small works I have them in all continents of the world, individuals and states bought them.
What’s the reflection from abroad?
They were much. The most memorable were reflections from the annual festival devoted to horses in Cabourg, France. Well-known Armenian operator and director Suren Ter-Grigoryan participated in it. He made a movie about one of horses made by me, which was won a Grand Prix. After that lots of articles were published in French press about that movie, and naturally about me, as I was the hero. When we translated those articles, we were astonished by their wonderful words. That they were shocked. During the press conference one of the reporters asked Suren which Alekyan’s next work would be, and he humorously said Ara was going to come to Paris, wrap the Eiffel Tower in papers and burn it. French reporters took this very seriously, and reported in the press that I am going to burn the Eiffel Tower. Suren says, he was astonished by their lack of sense of humor.
Mr. Alekyan why do all your statues open by burning?
Usually all the statues are opened with a white sheet, but for the first time my works appear by burning, as they are born by fire, iron is born by fire, I join them by fire, i.e. they are made by fire, and in the end I give them spirit with fire.
Mr. Alekyan do we live in a period where art resembling surrealism is still modern?
Everything should always be available. Let it be surrealism, abstraction, or something else, only if it’s done well, the crucial point is that a soul should be available in it. Only under this circumstance works won’t lose their value, and will be contemporary and vanguard for centuries.
What does the cultural face of our city lack?
Our city much lacks free works, they should be free, full of life and warmth. Recently I noticed that grave-like works appear in our city. If you place them in cemeteries, they won’t vary from tombstones.
Maybe that very aura is existent in our city.
I disagree. I blame the orderer, who lacks that degree of maturity to understand what is good, and what is bad. I blame the sculptor, who for a few pennies takes orders and makes it. Poor are those artists.
In this case our orderers are people chosen by mistake.
Yes, they dictate their gaudy taste.
Did those people order anything to you?
There were cases, but I refused. The fire and light I give to my people is enough for me.
Who or what do you inspire with?
Mr. Alekyan where are our favorite “Horses”?
They’re in Brussels, in the park.
Is it possible that our “Spider” leaves us one day?
Yes. The “Bear” like others may leave us. You know how many statues left this Square?—“Small ox,” “Bear,” two “Horses.” I’m selling them.
What should we do that they didn’t leave us?
They should be bought, cared, like I come and take care every week, to wash and clean them. It should be done by respective bodies, one should wash, the other—wipe, the other—observe whether cracks have appeared on it or not, provide lights for them. In short, they should love them, so that they didn’t leave.
By Nvard Manvelyan
Photos by German Avagyan