YEREVAN (Armenpress/BrainJuice)–One of Arshile Gorky’s greatest dreams was to "to return home and mix with Armenian soil," after his death. Fifty-six years after Gorky’s tragic death–his wish is expected to come true. The Yerevan-based Arshile Gorky Foundation has undertaken fundraising efforts and is requesting permission to transport and bury Gorky’s remains in Armenia.
The chairman of the foundation Badal Badalian–said that if the foundation succeeds–it would be appropriate to rebury Gorky at the Dzidzernagapert Memorial in Yerevan–which is dedicated to the victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide–but added that the final word belongs to the government.
Born in Western Armenia–in the village of Khorgom on the banks of Lake Van in 1904–Gorky (Vostanik Adoyan) escaped the Turkish massacres with thousands of others refugees. After his mother died of famine–he headed for the US. His whole life in the new country–which ended in suicide–consisted of years of hard work and bitter struggle.
A pilgrimage is planned to Gorky’s native village of Khorgom in Turkey on July 21–the day Gorky committed suicide. The foundation also plans to launch a poster campaign across Armenia in honor of Gorky.
One of the most famous contemporary artists–the founder of Abstract Surrealism–Gorky was described by Andre Breton as the most important painter in American history. Tragically enough–the years in which his art was ascending to its greatest heights were also the darkest in his life.
In January of 1946–Gorky’s studio–a converted barn on his wife’s Connecticut property–burned down–taking with it many of the paintings–drawings–and books Gorky owned. One month later–he was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent a colostomy–which left him physically handicapped and emotionally scarred. His deteriorating marriage finally exploded when he discovered that Agnes was having an affair with Gorky’s friend Surrealist painter Matta Echaurren. Soon thereafter–she left–taking his beloved children. The same week as his breakup–Gorky was involved in a car accident while riding with New York gallery owner Julien Levy–who was driving under the influence. Gorky suffered a fractured back and neck and was put in an enormous leather neck brace that held his head up. Shattered physically–emotionally–and spiritually–betrayed by or estranged from everyone he most loved–Gorky retreated to his house in Connecticut–where he hung himself from the rafters of the barn on July 21–1948. His parting phrase was written in chalk on a crate: "Goodbye–my loved ones."
To Gorky–art was nothing short of a necessity; he put his painting before all else–and when all else failed him–he relied on painting to pull him through. He faced more than his share of misfortunes–which began in his early life and brought him to an early death. In his art–he sought to reclaim the past that had been stolen from him–and to shape his future–which always–and ultimately tragically–fell short of his expectations and ambitions.