YEREVAN–An unprecedented English-language volume dedicated to the life and work of Sergey Parajanov has been released in Yerevan this month. Titled The Parajanov Kaleidoscope: Drawings, Collages, Assemblages, the book was published by Yerevan’s Sergey Parajanov Museum.
The largest collection of reproductions of artworks by Parajanov and critical annotations ever published in one volume, The Parajanov Kaleidoscope was compiled by Zaven Sargsyan, with the lead text written by Levon Abrahamian. Background information, historic overviews, and critical commentaries accompanying the artworks were written by Sargsyan and Abrahamian. The book also includes a foreword by Armen Harutyunyan.
“This book has been 30 years in the making,” said Zaven Sargsyan, director of the Parajanov Museum. “In the process of compiling the various components of the volume, we were intent on presenting a comprehensive, panoramic tapestry of Parajanov’s artistic legacy, which comprised several art forms.”
The Parajanov Kaleidoscope pays tribute to the extraordinary range of Parajanov’s achievemen’s as a writer, filmmaker, painter, collagist, doll maker, and performance artist. The profusion of reproductions in the volume includes not only paintings, collages, and dolls, but fragmen’s and props from Parajanov’s films and performance-art sets. Many of these pieces, in addition to his various writings and letters ‘s from which excerpts have been included in the book ‘s are part of the permanent exhibit collection and archives of the Parajanov Museum.
“Parajanov had the uncanny ability to transform everything he touched ‘s and touched on ‘s into an artistic statement,” said Levon Abrahamian, a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia. “That propensity was not merely about an innate creative aptitude, which is enormously impressive in its own right. Rather, Parajanov’s artistic impulse was closely conditioned by a profound curiosity with regard to anything and everything that informed the at turns maddening and marvelous experiences of the human condition, and also, ultimately, a decidedly spiritual insistence on humanizing those experiences.”
Commenting on Parajanov’s creative genius, Abrahamian writes in the book’s introduction: “Visitors to the Parajanov Museum in Yerevan realize, often immediately, sometimes towards the end of their visit, that what they have been exposed to are not merely the backstage doodlings or pran’s of an inimitable film director but the oeuvre of a major artist.”
Both Sargsyan and Abrahamian knew Parajanov in person. Their shared experiences and memories of the artist have helped them write definitive descriptions and critical assessmen’s of his output while elucidating it with the biographical, art-historical, and political contexts in which Parajanov worked and often had to grapple with.
Throughout The Parajanov Kaleidoscope, the authors refer to the parallel narrative of Parajanov’s relentless persecution by the Soviet authorities. Considered by the Soviet censors variously as counterrevolutionary and bourgeois, the artist was made into a pariah early in his career. While Parajanov’s films were treated with unalloyed adulation in Europe and elsewhere, the Soviet regime went to great lengths to silence him and his creative output alike, forbidding him to make films and subjecting him to a series of sanctions including public disgrace, imprisonment, and house arrest.
However, as The Parajanov Kaleidoscope demonstrates in great detail, far from inducing him to give up on his work or grow bitter, Soviet persecution had the unexpected effect of driving Parajanov into new creative heights. It was in prison, for instance, that he thrived as a doll maker, producing a multitude of artworks with astounding resourcefulness.
In his foreword, Armen Harutyunyan, the Human Rights Defender of Armenia, writes: “The Soviet authorities knew that, in a very real sense, the work of visionaries such as Sergey Parajanov could be as threatening to the stability and very rationale of the totalitarian project as a nuclear menace. Parajanov was much more than a dissident questioning the status quo; he was the quintessential poet of freedom.”
The Parajanov Kaleidoscope was published originally in Russian, in 2008. It was awarded the Grand Prix of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia and won a second degree diploma at the 5th International Competition “The Art of the Book” of the CIS state-members in 2008. The latter accolade was particularly significant as the book vied against hundreds of volumes entered into the competition.
For the present publication, the Russian text was translated into English by Kristine Karapetyan.
The Parajanov Kaleidoscope: Drawings, Collages, Assemblages, which features hundreds of color and black and white photographs on glossy paper, was printed in Armenia by Printinfo.
Price: 20,000 Drams ($65.00).
For ordering information, contact the Parajanov Museum: