Organized by Solidere and the Central Committee of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in Lebanon, in collaboration with Noah’s Ark Art Gallery, under the patronage of the Lebanese Minister of Culture H.E. Raymond Arayji, the opening of the exhibition themed “Rebirth of a Nation” took place on Monday, the 4th of May 2015 at 7 PM at the Beirut Exhibition Center, in the presence of prominent Lebanese and foreign diplomats, as well as representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon.
Dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the goal was to represent to the Lebanese art-loving community the richness of the Armenian cultural Heritage during the last 100 years and more.
During the opening ceremony, Arda Yanikian expressed her gratitude on behalf of the Central Committee of the Armenian Genocide to the organizers and stressed that throughout the turbulent times of history, the Armenian people continued to struggle and overcame all difficulties in order to secure its existence, and remained loyal to its identity and values.
Herag Hergelian, on behalf of Noah’s Ark Art Gallery, briefly reviewed the history of Lebanese art of the 20th century and represented the contribution of Armenian artists to the Lebanese and also the international arena. He stressed that Lebanon, being the one of the gates through which European art has met the East, Lebanese fine arts has been able to produce a unique image for itself within the art world. Next to the Lebanese masters such as Michel Basbous, Shafik Abboud, Aref Rayyes, Jean Khalifeh, Hussein Madi, and others, alongside artists of Armenian origin, have had tangible roles in the formation and development of the Lebanese fine arts. When Regional conditions have forced Armenians to scatter all over the world, as soon as they have reached country, they have embraced and enthusiastically participated in the cultural life of that country.
Hergelian concluded saying that “it was it was this talented people whom they planned to exterminate and remove from the face of the earth one hundred years ago. We believe that art, through its inspiring, aesthetic power, has the potential of ennobling humankind and preventing future genocides.”
Ambassador of Armenia in Lebanon Ashot Kocharyan noted that Armenia is a small country with no natural resources, no oil or natural gas. However, he stressed Armenia’s biggest natural resource is the Armenian people itself, due to the sheer number of creativity and mentioned that for a small country of 3 million, Armenia has over 2000 artists, with more promising talents to come.
Ambassador Kocharyan officially thanked the Lebanese Government once more for being the only Middle Eastern country to have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide.
General Director of Solidere Mounir Doueidy in his turn reaffirmed the fact that Armenians have an integral role in the development of Lebanese culture: “The contribution of the Armenians is undeniable in the spheres of painting, sculpture, theatre, music and other fine arts.”
Yuroz, who came to Lebanon from Los Angeles especially for the opening of the exhibition, expressed his sincere gratitude to everyone who supported in making this exhibition a reality and gave his blessing to the Lebanese people. It is worthy to note that Yuroz participated to the event by displaying one of the paintings from “Human Rights” Series mural which was commissioned to him by the United Nations in 2004. That painting, entitled “Rebirth of a Nation”, became the official emblem of the exhibition.
In closing, Lebanese Minister of Culture H.E. Mr. Raymond Arayji acknowledged the message of Pope Francis to the Armenian people by remembering the denialist approach of the Turkish Government in regards to the Armenian Genocide. He reminded the audience of the integration of the Armenians to the Lebanese way of life, thus proving the fact that Lebanon continues to be a multiethnic society. Arayji praised the unity spirit of the Armenian people.
Being one of a kind exhibition, “Rebirth of a Nation” is a collection of Armenian artworks spanning from the late 19th to the early 20th century. More than 100 artists are exhibited at the Beirut Exhibition Center, with 150 paintings, over a dozen of sculptures and three installations.
The exhibition is separated into two themes: Genocide and Rebirth. However, rebirth, which represents mainly contemporary Armenian art, is given the larger part of the exhibition. Works of internationally well-known artists of Armenian origins such as Ivan Aivazovsky, Carzou, Hovsep Pushman, Jansem, Martiros Sarian, Minas Avetisyan, Yervand Kochar, Jean Kazandjian, Leon Tutundjian, Paul Guiragossian.
Also, a special effort was made to include all those almost forgotten Lebanese-Armenian artists like Jean Tarpinian, Yeghia Kasbarian, Armiss, Toros Der Hagopian, Ezekiel Toros, Terjan, Jean Asadrian, and Oshin Kerkyasharian who not only suffered in the aftermath of the Genocide, but also expressed it in their works directly or indirectly.
On this occasion, on Thursday the 8th of May, the artist Yuroz offered to draw on the T-shirts of 100 children as remembrance of the Armenian Genocide and solidarity between Armenian and Lebanese people.
The exhibition remains open until May 31, from 11 AM to 8 PM, including Sundays.
The administration of the Noah’s Ark Art Gallery would like to express its special thanks to:
The Management of Solidere and the Beirut Exhibition Center
Former Minister H.E. Mr. Vrej Sabounjian
The Boghossian Foundation
Mrs. Lucy Tutunjian
Mr. Avedis and Mrs. Rita Demirjian
A.D. & D. Sarkissian Partners
For their moral and financial support
We would like to express our special thanks to:
Melankton and Haig Arslanian Armenian College
“Bardzr Arvest” Gallery (Yerevan)
Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis Demirjian
Mr. Paul and Mrs. Suha Sarkissian
For providing artworks from their private collections
We would like to thank the artists who put together art installations designed especially for this exhibition (Charbel Samuel Aoun, Anita Toutikian, Koko Garabet), artists who provided their artworks, Chirak Printing-Publishing, photographers Avedis Saradjian and Agop Kanledjian.
Last but not least the administration of Noah’s Ark expresses special thanks to the Central Committee of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in Lebanon for trusting the gallery in printing the album of the exhibition, collecting and choosing the artists and artwork, and making the exhibition a reality.
“There must something special in the genes of the Armenians that makes them such good painters”
Helen Khal, American-Lebanese art critic