Renowned French-Armenian artist Jean Kazandjian will present his latest collection, Best of Both Worlds: An Exhibition of the Collected Works of Jean Kazandjian, hosted at the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, D.C. as part of the D.C. Francophonie Festival, which runs from Sunday, March 6 through Friday, March 31. The exhibit will be on public display every Friday beginning Friday, March 17 through Friday, April 7. For public exhibition hours, contact Anita Issagholyan with the Embassy of Armenia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Jean Kazandjian has succeeded for decades in representing the best of both worlds by the intricate melding of Armenian and French culture and history throughout his art practice. Kazandjian’s thought provoking and optimistic critiques on society are articulated through the surrealistic tradition which he so ardently preserves. Jean has created his own magnificent universe through this art–one that encompasses many exciting worlds within it and leaves his viewers fulfilled and nostalgic,” expressed Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian, of the Embassy of Armenia.
Jean Kazandjian’s origins and education brought him into contact with three different cultures. His roots are in the Armenian tradition, his high school education introduced him to French culture, while his years spent at university opened him to the influence of the English-speaking world. These various influences have combined to foster in his work the qualities of patience and sensibility, knowledge and wisdom.
After his “freshman arts” year in 1960, Kazandjian was unanimously awarded the fist prize for his submission in a special competitive exhibition for tapestry, organized by the Sursock Museum of Beirut in 1962. Spurred on by his desire to become familiar with the techniques and the materials peculiar to the cultural world in which he had grown up, he embarked on studies in design. In 1968, he gained a master’s degree from ENSAD in Paris, a well-known publicly funded school for applied arts. In the aftermath of the political and social turbulence of 1968 Paris, Kazandjian came to a clearer sense of his capacities as an artist. The beginning of his career as a painter can thus be located in the year 1969. Recognition of Kazandjian’s talent in the Paris art world was immediate.
The late sixties and early seventies was a period during which he met painters as remarkable and as diverse as Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dali, Leonardo Cremonini, Francis Bacon and Alexander Calder. The effect of this exposure to such a diversity of influences and artistic projects was to consolidate his sense of the need to remain faithful to the artistic interrogations proper to him. Kazandjian has exhibited his works in several European countries and also in Canada and the United States.
A native of Beirut, Lebanon, Kazandjian relocated to Paris, France in his early twenties, where his reputation flourished and he became prominent both in Paris and internationally. He has exhibited his work at many of the world’s most notable galleries, including the legendary Furstenberg Gallery in Paris, and alongside fellow influential surrealist artists including Hans Bellmer, Giorgio de Chirico, Wifredo Lam and Salvador Dalí, to name a few. Today, Kazandjian splits his time between Los Angeles and Paris. He is still considered one of the most avant-garde and venerable figures of the post-surrealist era.
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