Marcos Grigorian


Untitled abstract, 1956

Oil on canvas
Signed and dated upper left: Grigorian; signed and dated again, and with the artist's inscription and ink stamps, verso
31" H x 23" W

  • Provenance: The artist
    Private Collection, Los Angeles, CA, acquired from the above, circa 1960
  • Notes: Marcos Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, Russia, in 1925 to an Armenian family. Grigorian's family escaped from Kars to avoid the massacres due to Kars' capture by Turkey in 1920. In 1930 Grigorian and his family moved to Tehran. Grigorian was notable for being an artist, teacher, collector, and gallerist. In 1950, Grigorian studied at the Accademia de Belle Arti in Rome and studied with Roberto Melli, who was a cubist sculptor (Noorani, n.d.). Upon graduating in 1954, Grigorian moved back to Tehran, where he opened a commercial gallery. Thus, becoming a prominent teacher at the Fine Arts Academy, where Grigorian taught students about folk art. Continuing, in Tehran, he was placed as the "head of the graphic department at the Ministry of Culture and Art. While there, he introduced new etching techniques to students" (Abramian, p.80, as cited in Fouladvand). A group of free painters and sculptures in Tehran was organized and founded by Marcos Grigorian. As a multifaceted artist, Grigorian executed pieces of modernist pop art and experimented with Earth art to symbolize the connection between humans and the nature surrounding us. In 1977, Grigorian left Iran and moved to Yerevan, Armenia, and there he showed his clay and straw work in 1991, further proving his accomplished versatility when practicing various mediums. Grigorian introduced Iranians to contemporary and unique art as a worldly artist. Marcos's expression as an artist was a combination of skillful drawing techniques, themes of immigration, ethnic textures, modernism, pop art, local textures, experimentation, and abstract elements.

    The current painting is an abstract piece with an earthy color palette, which confirms the influence of Grigorian's experimentation with "earth art." A minimalist range of colors of red, black, grey, and brown shades is beautifully used to draw the viewers' attention. The mixture of brown and grey paint in the background is painted with inconsistent and quick brush strokes to create a textured and layered setting, an important artistic element of Grigorian. There is much action in the painting itself, the red paint that runs vertically with the swift stroke of the brush. However, running horizontally from the first red color, many small brushstrokes run down the vertical line of various inconsistent lengths. Each line looks to have slow beaded drips starting to occur, as an illusion that the paint is still drying. To the right of the red vertical paint stroke is a black vertical brush mark; each mark looks similar. However, the viewer can see the lines from the brush while using the black paint; they look more like swift and uncontrolled strokes. Just like the left side of the painting, there are also horizontal lines running on the right side, but they are just in black paint. With no clear form or figure, it is a testament to Grigorian's exploration of abstract elements.

    Marcos Grigorian was a prominent figure in the art world who was influential in introducing many Iranians to contemporary art, combining folk art, and reawakening the local ethnic elements. Grigorian did not only leave his mark in Iran, but his impact spanned multiple countries. This abstract painting stands for Grigorian's experience in creating earth art; abstraction, texture, conceptual arrangement, and building swift brush mark management are all visual components that make this a fascinating piece. Those who view this piece are witnesses to a unique painting filled with elements of experimental treatments of the surface he created that were so influential to twentieth-century visual culture.
  • Condition: Visual: Good condition. Dust accumulation and grime commensurate with age. Horizontal stretcher bar crease showing slightly across the center. An unobtrusive, rice-size pigment loss at center. A scattered and faint 1.5" H x 0.25" W surface scuff near the lower left corner. Occasional very small areas of unpainted canvas along the edges, primarily the left edge, most of which appear to be in the artist's own hand.

    Blacklight: No evidence of restoration. Difficult to read under uneven varnish.

    Frame: 32" H x 23.75" W x 1" D

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November 1, 2022 12:00 PM PDT
Monrovia, CA, US

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