Eesti Päevaleht 13.aug 2002
MISSION – Sculptures took away his right hand and brought him to painting
A big, impressive and colourful exhibition of the paintings and drawings of the artist of Armenian origin, Rafael Arutyunyan, is open in the Old Town Studio Theatre House until August 19. His work of the last five years can be seen at the exhibition – altogether 230 works. It has been said about this exhibition that it is like space – there is much of everything.
“I am a hundred percent Estonian artist of the Estonian mentality,” said Arutyunyan, who has been living in Tallinn for the last 44 years. The artist born in Baku came to Estonia before entering university and graduated from the Estonian State Art University in the field of sculpture.
SOUTHERN TEMPERAMENT AND NORTHERN PERSISTENCE
Arutyunyan started painting because his left hand fell ill from the physical tension. “There is nothing strange in the fact that a sculptor is painting. However, what is new is that only one and a half years ago for the first time in my life I took the brush and paints in my hands and started painting,” explained the artist having his arm bandaged.
The grey-haired short man with a strong greeting hand is of a frank and sincere nature. He speaks almost fluent Estonian, gesticulates energetically and switches over to Russian only when he gets too emotional with his talk.
In addition to art, family is also very important to the Arutyunyans – the manager of the artist is his son, Areg, who is sitting next to his father during the interview and is supplementing his father’s words. Meanwhile, the daughter-in-law enters into the conversation.
This huge exhibition of paintings is the fifth personal exhibition of Arutyunyan which is entitled “Southern Temperament and Northern Persistence.” “When I opened one of my exhibitions at the age of 40, sculptor Olav Männi said about me these words and they are still relevant today,” said Arutyunyan. At this exhibition there is not any single concept or theme. The walls are covered with endless lines of paintings that are supplemented by the use of collage techniques. Objects are glued to the paintings starting from jewellery and ending up with dolls and legos. “As a sculptor I want to add reliefs to my works. I glue such objects to my paintings that give more effect than if they were painted – for example a knife,” explained Arutyunyan.
THE WORKS ARE NOT FOR SALE
The exhibited works are on very different topics, for example there are works on the conflict of Chechens and on biblical themes, as well as portraits and landscape paintings. “I am not an avant-gardist, I have expressed what has been on my heart at that certain moment,” said the artist. For example to the portrait of his son who is a businessman, a calculator and some coins have been added with collage techniques.
Rafael Arutyunyan keeps from selling his works. His son, Areg Arutyunyan, has a plan to build a huge gallery in the future where the father’s creations and the works of other Estonian artists will be exhibited.
“There have been people interested in buying, but why should we sell these works and buy them back at three times the original cost?” argued Areg Arutyunyan.