Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Valentin Podpomogov Վալենտին Պոդպոմոգով

Valentin Podpomogov is not an immigrant. Most likely, he will never be. It’s his pictures that are migrating to America: in Los Angeles alone there are already more than a dozen of them.
He lives where he was born – Yerevan. His second name reveals that his father was Ukrainian – it’s his mother who was Armenian — he considers himself to be a refined Armenian. People in Yerevan say about him: “Valushka? He’s the salt of Armenia”, or “those who don’t know Podpomogov, don’t know Armenia”. Yes, he is an Armenian artist; every cell in his body has absorbed the country’s essence, its culture, pride and pain. 

Born in 1924, Valentin grew up something of an idler, a loafer who was reluctant to study. He even boasts of how he was kept back in fourth grade for an extra year, before, to his relief, he was expelled. Since then he never misses a chance of telling people that he has a fourth grade education. 
His biggest artistic passion always was cinema (though even that came second after drinking and carousing, at which he was an unsurpassed master). For almost all his life Valya worked in the ”Armenfilm” film studio as art director, creating a series of beautifully designed films.
The best grave monuments in Yerevan cemetery are either personally made by Valya or based on his sketches.
He paints in the style of the “old masters”. Color is secondary for him: his palette is mainly silver-gray. The most important thing is the idea. And everything is subjected to the idea – the line, the shape, the style. His paintings are entire philosophical treatises, I would say mystical, full of inner strength and drama.
And rarely is Valentin seen without his black beret.

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