Mamikon Yengibarian

Mamikon Yenglbarian's first one-man show took place in Yerevan one afternoon at 4 o' clock. Four hours later, he boarded a plane to Kiev with a bag containing his tools, reproductions of ancient Armenian miniatures and his copy of the Bible. From Kiev, he took a train and after a long, uncomfortable journey, arrived in Budapest.

Before we ask why, we should recall a few dates from Armenian history.

The Bible was first translated into Armenian in 412 B.C. The people that had belonged to the Kingdom devastated by the Medes in the 6th Century B. C. were united under the Armenian Kingdom after the collapse of Urartu. According to legend, the first Armenian dynasty was founded by Hayk around 2300 B. C., at the time when Urukagina ruled in Lagas and Sarukin I was the King of Akkad.

People from Central Europe are proud of their Jewish, Greco-Roman and Christian roots. Armenians, besides sharing the same background, can boast about their Sumer an Akkad heritage, the Hittities, the bronze bulls and winged horses of Urartu's metallurgy and Erebuni's lion.

I wouldn't say that compared to this, the diploma Yengibarian earned at the sculpture faculty of the Yerevan College of Fine Arts is insignificant, it certainly required mastery of excellent sculptural techniques, However, one's “luggage” definitely weighs more than one's documents and the noble tools inherited from one's master. In Yengibarian's Budapest studio, the cats shaped from plaster were the first attract attention. They evoked in my memory Hannagan's rabbits, but it's useless to follow the thread of such an association. The English should be excited by the metamorphoses of the lion and the bulldog. Here though, the image expresses something more than a political identity. Let us just touch upon what Baster, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess manifests.

Yengibarian's cat is not one of those ghosts that accompany witches strolling in the night. Neither should we search for discarded images in the unconscious, but instead elevate our hearts and minds over the sad facts of history.

The beautiful body, consisting of an almost weightless, elongated cylinder, a tiny ball and four expansive springs, is at first simply a form. Only later does it become a symbol, a metaphor. The symbol of untemptable independence, the symbol of freedom's imperative guiding one's life and fate, the symbol of knowledge. It' s like the cat's introverted journey, which resembles that of the artist' s. A journey back to the remote past, when up until the recent springing of modern art was a sacred sphere of existence, not a toben, not only an investment. The Etruscan heritage was given a second thought like the meeting of contrasts, like the memory of a zapping blade, struck in space. The thinning, almost bodiless figure is also symbolic, of course. But first of all it is a sculpture: from, body, space and weight – weight that allows the size to grow without changing the relationship between the various elements of the composition.

Mamikon and I have talked, often leaving the sentences unfinished, about the final justification of the sculpture. Can a sculpture be indeed a companion to buildings or to people vacillating deep in the gaps between buildings? Disregarding concepts, we have talked about things big and small, emphasizing rather techniques and work processes.

The varieties of structure and imaginativeness in Hungarian sculpture is loosing expressiveness just as the richness of sentences in Hungarian literature is also deteriorating. We can be grateful to Mamikon for what he has brought us.

Csaba Sík