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Q: Mr. Shmavonyan, the regularity of your exhibitions in the United States for the last 20 years gives the impression that you are a Diaspora Armenian and live abroad.

A: No, I am from Armenia, more precisely, from the village of Verin Artashat, Ararat region.

Q: From the village next to us? I am from Norashen, we are almost fellow villagers, because Verin Artashat and Norashen are divided by only one river, which is called Abra. My father was an agriculturist by profession. He worked as a brigadier in our village, as a party secretary, he also managed the collective farm in your village.

Q: Why, there was no one in our village to lead it, how did our villagers tolerate it?

A: You are tough like the people of Norashen. Come on, agree that the people of Verin Artashat are more hard workers than the people of Norashen, maybe that’s why they appointed my father as the head of your village collective farm.

Q: Have you served in the army?

A: Yes. Our group was to leave Germany for Germany. Suddenly an officer approached me and offered to draw something out of the blue. I painted and I was offered to serve in the Leninakan military unit. My service went through painting. Of course, I also participated in exercises, I learned to shoot. The army was a very important period in my life. Of course, I did not keep the border during the service, I did not feel the pride of standing in positions, but I wore a uniform.

Q: When did you enter the international arena?

A: My first foreign exhibition was in Dubai, where I presented 15 paintings. They were successful and sold at a great price. Importantly, I realized that my Armenian colors and emotions are close to the soul of a stranger. Then, at the invitation of “Marmara” newspaper editor Robert Hatechyan, my friend and I took 20 pictures and went to Istanbul. But Turkish customs officers banned our paintings from entering their country, considering them Soviet propaganda. And we entered Turkey empty-handed. But the local Armenians provided us with everything we needed to be able to paint. The hall where we were painting was glazed. One day they knocked on our door and said that a rich Turk had seen that we were painting and was ready to pay a good price for our paintings. We were surprised that he did not see our paintings, why is he convinced that they deserve a great price? “He knew that you are Armenians and Armenians are talented, they never do bad things,” he told the visitor.

“I am always exhibited in Armenia, I am at home for nine months. In Istanbul, a Turkish art critic, inspired by my paintings, said, “There should be no borders in the world.” I answered him, “You invented the borders, Armenia is a boundless homeland, because its culture stretches in the infinity of time and space.” In the days when the Azerbaijanis were shelling the borders of our homeland, I remembered my conversation with a Turkish intellectual. Nothing can win the love of your homeland. That love has such great potential that all the weapons in the world are powerless against it. We are nourished by our caring homeland. And that homeland is very big, it is one of the biggest in the world. My army is a precious value. My army is first of all virtue, then strength. If my army was not so noble, my colors would not be so bright.

Q: When did you paint on army themes?

A: There is an army in all my pictures. It exists in the colors of pride, dignity, victory, love, devotion … The army is one of the most powerful realities of our life, it imbues our every day, our essence and identity.

Q: You said two wonderful ideas: “Armenia is a boundless homeland” and “The army is of spiritual value”, which one should we choose as the topic of our conversation?

A: The army is of spiritual value.


Category: #31 (1351) 05.08.2020 - 11.08.2020, Army and Society, Spiritual-Cultural, Spotlight