By Barlow Der Mugrdechian
The exhibit “Ani in Armenian Painting,” which was dedicated to the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as the National Religion of Armenia, opened on August 20, 1997 in the National Gallery of Armenia, co-sponsored by the State Museum of History of Armenia.
His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, was present to bless the opening.
National Gallery Director Shahen Khachaturian explained the significance of the occasion and the special reasons why Ani was chosen as the subject for the display.
“A thousand years ago, when Ani was the beautiful and productive capital of Armenia, the residents of Armenia would say with pride, ìAni-the City of a Thousand and One Churches.”
Many people painted the ruins of Ani, but only one, the artist Martiros Saryan, who had seen Ani many times, said perhaps the most characteristic statement about Ani, ìIt is impossible to tell about Ani, one must see it.î
One must see Ani with their own eyes, but today one can see Ani through the works of artists who have depicted her haunting beauty.
Artist Arshag Fetvajian, faithfully depicted Ani through his water-colors and drawings. Vartkes Sureniants painted Ani through his view of Armenia, woven in green and orange colors. Gevorg Bashinchaghian used his poetic brush to capture the lyric nature of the city. Martiros Sarian saw Ani for the first time in 1901, and it seemed a dream or a fable to him.
The display of paintings and current photos made for an expansive look at the once glorious city of Ani.