Hrair Diarbekirian

An article in English By Lamia Chahine

An article in English: (By Lamia Chahine)

From the very beginning, Hrair's artistic career has been crowned with success both in Lebanon and abroad, with numerous exhibitions held in Europe, the United States, the Arab countries, and as far afield as Japan. He has obtained the Sursock Museum Prize and that of the Palais de la Présidence in Beirut, and also the gold medals awarded in the Sao Paolo Biennale of 1969 and by the Italian government in 1972.

Hrair's dominant theme is the horse, symbol of male virility, strength and mastery - the semi-mythical stallion and the centaur sprung from the legends of Phoenicia and the ancients Orient. These are high-spirited and lively steeds moving at a frisky trot, bucking and kicking in a whirling gallop, alert even at rest. Often the horse is accompanied by a "flower-woman" whose curling tresses intermingle with the flowing spirals of his mane - an unreal doll-figure spellbound in willing passivity as if engendered from the flanks of the horse-male in an echo that recalls the creation of Eve.

Hrair is also a painter of Icons - The Annunciation, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion - influenced by Byzantine art but transposing into his own almost fanciful idiom with an abundance of life and color.

Yet whatever his theme, it is the rich wealth of ornament that dominates his work - arabesques, an intertwining tracery of festooned garlands, leafy foliage, and crisscross scroll-work that recall the moucharabiehs or enamel work. This richness is emphasized by the choice of colors bursting forth with violent life - oranges, greens, reds, and gold that fill the canvas with stirring exhilaration.