Ashot Melkonian

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Ashot Melkonian
Ashot Melkonian.jpg
Աշոտ Մելքոնյան
Born 1 March 1930
Rostov-on-Don, USSR
Died 9 December 2009(2009-12-09) (aged 79)
Fresno, California, USA
Nationality Armenian
Known for Painting, Mural
Notable work(s) "Family", "Spring", "Armen", "Boy with a book"
Movement Neorealism
Awards Honorary Artist of the Republic of Armenia

Ashot Melkonian (Armenian: Աշոտ Մելքոնյան; 1 March 1930 – 9 December 2009) was an Armenian artist associated with Neorealistic artistic style and Honorary Artist of the Republic of Armenia.[1] He mainly devoted himself to landscape and portraits painting, as well as murals. He is one of the founders of Neorealism in Armenian art. Art critic Shahen Khachatrian referred to Melkonian as "an artist of the generation of the 1960s that provided a new impetus to the development of Armenian art. Reality is a characteristic feature of Ashot's art".[2] Honorary artist of Armenia Hakob Hakobian referring to Melkonian wrote "a brilliant composer of scenes, an author of exquisite portraits and landscapes, a maseter of gentlest and subtlest painting ... Melkonian is the pride of our painting school."[3] According to art critic L.S. Zinger (Moscow), Melkonian's art is "a mix of humanistic tradition and his armenian outlook."

Life and art education[edit]

Ashot Melkonian was born in Rostov-on-Don, USSR in 1930. He started modeling his artistic identity rather early. He grew up in Leninakan (nowadays Gyumri), Armenia, where his family moved in 1935 when he was 5. His mother, who was an artist and a teacher, taught him to love and understand music, and his uncle, who was a stage designer, introduced him to painting. During World War II, Melkonian studied in S. Merkurov art school and at the same time worked in the theater of Gyumri. In those years, he greatly benefited from powerful influence of Melikset Svakchyan, one of the most brilliant Armenian artists and stage designers.

Thereafter in 1946 the young artist moved to Yerevan. He first attended P.Terlemezian Art College (1946–50) and then graduated from Yerevan Academy of Arts (1956). In those years, he became an ardent student of national cultural heritage and the world masters. Deep love towards the culture and music of his native people made him dedicate his diploma to Komitas. The painting, which depicts, against a scenic background, Komitas in the midst of boys and girls, immediately caught the eye with its rhythmical color scheme, harmonious composition and delicate hues. Ashot Melkonian was a member and in 1973 was elected to the board of the Union of Artists of Armenia. Was a lecturer of Fine arts in Yerevan State Pedagogical University. Ashot Melkonian was awarded the title of an Honorary Artist of Armenia in 1977. In 1997, he moved to Fresno, California, US. After being in the US he participated in several exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York and Fresno. On December 9, 2009, he died of heart failure at Fresno at the age of 79, and is buried in the Armenian Masis Cemetery of Fresno.[4]

Art career[edit]

Mellkonian's early works with their subtle glow and wistful lyricism, defined the scope of his interest and his admiration for things simple and unpretentious. He hears graceful and tender melody of scenes where a mother nurses her child, girls rest in stacks of hay carry jugs of water, a youth plays a pipe, or boys admire a white stag of stream. His "Family", drawn somewhat later, in 1967, amplified the most characteristic features of his art and epitomized his spiritual quest. This painting, central to Melkonian's art, is both a genre painting and a group soft introspective ambiance. The trees and the flowers in the painting are also viewed as symbols of tender that unites the family.[5] The "Family" came as a proof of Melkonian's artistic maturity. Its most characteristic features are the precise simplicity of drawing, the richness of substance and bold statement of values adopted by the new school of Armenian painting that emerged in the 1960s. "Boy with a book" painted in 1970, a small genre portrait, followed the tone set by the artist in his "Family". The artist once more arrests the viewer's attention with the ambiance of the painting, taking him to the world of youth, communicating its spirit and inviting to listen to the melody of the human soul. Along with individual features of his models, Melkonian's paintings reflect grasp and relate all that essentially human and universal. These portraits are simple in composition, melodic in lines and delicate in hues. The artist easily communicates with his models and, most importantly, creates an emotionally charged and captivating mood that gets hold of the viewer. In 2008 the album of Ashot Melkonian's art collection was published in Aleppo.[6][7]


"Armen" portrait made in 1972 presents an honest, straightforward and wistful youth. The lyric character of the model is sharply yet tenderly revealed. The charm of the youth is in his palpably dignified pose, arresting confidence and open gaze. Melkonian's portrait starts with an impressions inspired by the model. Then comes the second stage, where the model does not have to be physically present. As the artist draws the features of the face, he explores and refines the idea of the portrait and finds the hues that would best reflect his idea and render it substance and meaning. The image gains the unique features of the model and the same time serves to implicitly affirm the author's aesthetic, moral and civil stance. Only such portrait is valuable and important for the artist.


Melkonian uses the same approach when working on his thematic paintings and landscapes. A finished work is preceded by numerous sketches used to bring the perfection what is in the artist's eye. The vibrant layer of hues and meticulous attention to detail charged the painting with depth, emotion and wistful substance.


Parallel to his painting, Melkonian also created beautiful murals in Yerevan, Echmiadzin and Gyumri. The motive and rationale are the same, a man and his inner world. In 1969, on the occasion of Komitas' 100th anniversary, the dome of Echmiadzin seminary (then Museum) was painted with murals, a series of scenes depicting the themes of Komitas' songs. The idea belonged to Ashot Melkonian. His co-workers were Hakob Hakobian, Henrik Siravian and Rafayel Sargsyan. Melkonian's art is pure, lucid and lyrical. The large mural still captures with its simplicity, purity, loftiness and harmony of hues and lines.


The permanent exposition of the Armenian National Gallery has Ashot Melkonian's two paintings - "Family" and "Spring".[8] Another painting - "Rest -Mother with child" is kept in The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.[9]

See also[edit]


Video slideshow and additional links[edit]