Dastan +2 is hosting “Earth Works” by Iranian-Armenian artist Marcos Grigorian. The exhibition will be open from June 10th to July, 2nd.
Marcos (better known as Marco) Grigorian was an Iranian-Armenian artist, actor, teacher, gallery owner, and collector who played a pioneering role in the development of Iranian modern art. As a modernist pop artist, he turned to ordinary objects and popular ethnic forms and approaches. He used ethnic food such as “nan sangak” and “abghousht” to evoke authenticity in his work. Grigorian was a trend setter in experimenting with Earth Art in Iran.
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Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, Russia in 1925, to an Armenian family from Kars who had fled that city when it was captured by Turkey in 1920. The family moved to Iran when Grigorian was five, living first in Tabriz, then Tehran and settling later in Julfa, the Armenian district of Isfahan. In 1940 his family moved back to Tehran where he attended Alborz College and later Kamal-al-Molk Art School in 1948.
After finishing pre-university education in Iran, in 1950, Grigorian went to Rome, and enrolled at the Academia di Belle Arti. He studied with cubist sculptor Roberto Melli (1885-1958). Upon graduation in 1954, he returned to Iran and opened Gallery Esthetique, one of the first modern galleries in Tehran.
In 1958, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, he organized the first Tehran Biennial. Grigorian was also an influential teacher at the Fine Arts Academy, where he disseminated his enthusiasm for local popular culture, including coffee-house paintings, a type of folk art named after the locations in which they were often displayed.
In 1959, after two years of intensive work, Grigorian completed a succession of enormous murals centering on the topic of the Holocaust. During the same period, he started applying dirt to the center of his canvases. This became the starting point of his celebrated “Earthworks Series”.
In 1960 he started acting in several Iranian films as Gregory Mark. An energetic and talented performer, he played villains in many movies, soon specializing in anti-hero roles and conspicuously contrary characters.
After moving to the USA in 1962 Grigorian started a new phase in his artistic career. He worked and lived in New York until 1970, when he returned to Tehran and joined the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. Grigorian left Iran in 1977.
In 1980 he returned to New York and established Arshile Gorky Gallery, named after the Armenian abstract expressionist painter who committed suicide in the U.S.A. in 1948. There he exhibited the works of Iranian and Armenian artists for several years.
In 1986 Grigorian lost his daughter to a massive heart attack. The tragedy caused a shift in Grigorian’s entire perspective and artistic priorities. He immersed himself in his other passion, that of Armenian folk art and rug weaving. He later donated 5,000 of his artworks to the government of Armenia.
In 1993 established the “Sabrina Near East Museum of Yerevan”, where he housed his own works and exquisite collection. Known as the Middle East Museum, the Museum displays 2,600 exhibits containing works of Russian, European and Middle Eastern applied arts. In particular the Persian Section is unique. Persian Pre-Islamic Zoroastrian culture, Islamic culture, Ghadjarac art is on display as well.
Some of his works are now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kerman, and the National Gallery of Armenia. Grigorian died on August 2007 in Yerevan, Armenia.