Lives of the Artists XXI

Marcos Grigorian (1925 – 2007) was an Iranian-Armenian artist born in Russia. Yvette Tajarian recalls his portraiture:

For painting portraits Marco had a very interesting approach in choosing the model. Not everyone could earn the honour to become one. These were mainly people that surrounded him, but in his own words “people that had something to say”. He was interested in the inner beauty rather than the outer. The colours in the portraits that he painted during the last 20 years are softer and more natural. The background is often devoid of any colours. In my opinion, he has tried to draw attention to the portrait only. These are more expressionistic works. He expressed people on canvas the way he saw them.

I remember how he told me laughingly that he used to have quarrels with beautiful women after he would paint them. He used to tell me they did not understand art. Women wanted to see themselves more beautiful and since during the process of painting he did not allow them to see the canvas, seeing their curvy and crooked characters in the end made them feel offended. It was very difficult for Marco to let go his canvases and his works in general. He wasn’t very lavish either, and rarely gave the paintings to the models; however in my case I was lucky. During the last 3 years of his life he had not painted any works and every time he saw me he used to say “I have to paint you…”. One month before his death, when he was at home in the evening he asked me to come the next morning so that he could paint me. I had certainly waited for that day for a long time. He painted me for 1 hour and 40 minutes during that hot summer. I was very happy that day, but was surprised once I had seen the painting. He said that this was the Yvette that he knew – serious, demanding, struggling and achieving her aims. He added in the end, “I will name this painting Saint Mary”. I laughed and asked who has seen St. Mary with red hair? He answered saying, “My Saint Mary has red hair.”

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