Two friezes of portraits, made up of 40cm x 40cm squares, group portrait. One composed of Armenian characters, the other of “European” characters. Thus Tigran Tsitoghdzyan, talks of identity, through technique, hyperrealism, which prevailed at its beginnings and through its theorists to carry the glance towards the exterior and no longer to the interior, to scan the world and not the psyche of the painter. It is a fact that the world of Tigran is literal, insistent on the primacy of the subject observed, in its character of unique and autonomous object, expressing a need for representing it with precision and rigour, but can the theories always delimit and completely circumscribe a work?
In a fragmented world, sometimes incoherent, in perpetual change and yet on the way to being absorbed in the homogenizing movement of the economy, the human “landscape”, seems to belong to these existential sets of themes which re-appear in the artistic field. The concept of identity was at the heart of the debates occupying the 20th century and from this theorization emerges the fact that a definition of identity can be only made by analogy, between a subject and the image of this subject for the others and itself and this involves defining its opposite, the difference.
Thus the two friezes, placed facing each other obliges the viewer to find the particular features of each character of these works, to place them in a relationship with the others and thus to obtain a representation of the social body recorded in each of these canvases. Between the “Armenian” group and the “European” group a dialectic is created. What differentiates or approaches these two entities? An attitude, clothing, a way “of looking”, gestures outlined or guessed a self-monitoring of the close friend, at least for one of the groups? The question of identity does not arise, in fact when it must be communicated or represented, for this young Armenian artist, child prodigy of art, come to study and established in Switzerland, it had certainly to be posed.
But nothing obvious in these friezes of Tigran Tsitoghdzyan; if his bodies show the disposition of the mind, his painting expresses the invisibility of this interior disposition. These portraits imply, in their principle, an absence of action, latent romanticism and aim at a great objectivity. The artist endeavours to eliminate any trace of interpretation and subjectivity, although that is impossible, because the eye can only interpret what it sees.
In these two works, the composition, and the scale obey the perception. The composition has as a consequence that the subject overflows the canvas, highlights at the same time the pictorial plan and its vision of the reality and every part of this reality has an equal right to representation: nose, mouth, veins, head coverings. In addition “photographic” framing, brings the figures back to the surface and projects them towards the viewer with a presence and a force which give them a “social” value.
This is how each group manages to express a collective value in which each character is invested.
The relentless acceptance of things, such as they are visually could let it be thought that for the artist these exists nothing different, but to look at, better still, to immerse themselves in these two communities, these individuals gathered here, have the same values, even if they may have different interests one understands that the artist cannot escape a personal vision, by his technical choices, relating to the format, the scale, the lighting, to the point of view, obviously subjective decision, inspired or intuitive.
As already underlined by various art historians, these group portraits, require an approach and an anthropological methodology, because they underline, not only a certain “tribal” organization of societies but highlight how much our gestures or the most common attitudes are manufactured by collective standards, as the anthropologist Marcel Mauss has shown.
To look at these figures with monumental character, one understands better that for Flaubert these were artists for whom the stake was to write the “simple” admirably.