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'Facts of existence are the main source of my artistic experience. Art for me starts from the 'real'. At the beginning, an artist paints his surroundings, and like a child, the artist would ask many questions, a true devoted artist never stops questioning. The reality of everything is a question in itself. An artist, who has no answer, stops at limited borders, he will not move forward, does not evolve. I was born in a very modest place, therefore, I paint children, mothers, families, I paint misery, birth, death, and I paint the noise. I paint the tight-knotted groups that are lost, scarred, expelled, not knowing where is their next destination, I paint the neighborhoods which witnessed war, and hunger. Fear, genocide, siege, illness and death, from all of these ingredients I explode and I paint'.
(Paul Guiragossian in K. Safieh, 'Entretien avec un artiste arabe, Paul Guiragossian', in La vie de l'art plastique, no. 15, April-June 1984.)
One of the most recurring themes in Paul Guiragossian's oeuvre are groups of women. They are shown frieze-like, standing in line and facing the viewer as depicted in lot 3. Some attributes are recognizable whilst in other works the figures are sometimes more abstract. These works are homage to women and more specifically to the maternal figure and to motherhood.
In the very unique and intimate composition of Maternité au miroir (lot 2) the central figure, a mother with porcelain-skin and black-hair is tucking her child against her chest. Her head is tilted towards the viewer and she holds an elaborate blue mirror in her left hand. She seems to be elegantly resting on a white bench with crossed legs and her yellow and red dress gently falling over her feet. Such meticulous details are not very common in Paul Guiragossian's works and therefore Maternité au miroir is a rare example.
The warm exotic tones are reminiscent of the Fauve artists, whilst the surfaces of colour recall the cloisonné motif found in works from the Pont-Aven School, such as in Paul Gauguin's or Emile Bernard's paintings which seem to have had a profound impact on Guiragossian's style. Although Guiragossian's work is often characterized by vibrant colours, he uses them as a sign of hope and rebellion against the underlying human misery. The present lot is a very optimistic work, emanating with praise for feminine beauty and motherhood. The mother is often considered responsible for the burdens of raising her child or keeping the family together, yet in Guiragossian's painting she enjoys her beauty and embraces her femininity.
While the central figure sits nonchalantly perfecting her feminine ritual, the surrounding children possibly of different ages are causing a commotion, but they are all strongly bound within the motherhood love. This composition ingenuously places the beauty of the model into relief, an effect rendered through Guiragossian's characteristic rich impasto texture.
Lot 3 Untitled evokes images of a Mediterranean land combined with historical elongated figures of condensed old cities and their strong bond between each other, creating a great sense of true patrimony. This composition is dominated by Guiragossian's signature vertical lines, separating these figures from one another with the slender lines of their bodies even within this limited tight space that each figure is occupying, in order to emphasize their individuality. The geometrical verticality is interrupted by a vivid rhythm of softly curved lines within the composition, hinting to the curves of the bodies of a feminine group. This was Paul Guiragossian's favorite subject and obsession which transcended from his own eternal longing for his own mother to all the merciful angelic worldly mothers. The figure of the woman became the symbol of hope, of continuity and of freedom during his hardest days.
As always, Guiragossian's painting is clearly structured and composed. The impulsive and powerful brushstrokes create dynamism and a delightful musical rhythm, overseen by subtle warm tones of reds, cedar greens and touches of yellow and white. The recurring patterns of large streaks of colour suggest the arms, the long cloaks and the legs in a purely abstract manner, yet it is the whole that forms the subject of the painting and not the details. The figures are sumptuously wrapped by a surrounding dark green space, an inner frame that defines the edges of this group of women, bringing them even closer together. Similarly functioning as a window which must resist wind, rain and storms, the strength of the group comes with this protection from within.