Country:   Turkey
URL:   http://
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Sarkis Zabunyan, known as Sarkis, was born in Istanbul in 1938. He is a Turkish-born Armenian conceptual artist living in France. His family moved from Sivas to Istanbul. Sarkis studied at the St. Michel French High School and got his degree from Mimar Sinan University. He decided to use his Christian name Sarkis in his professional artistic life, and moved to Paris in 1962 after winning the Paris Young Artists? Biennial Prize. One of the leading conceptual artists, Sarkis has returned to his native Turkey many times since the 1980s to exhibit his work. He has participated in the Istanbul Biennial. Since the 1970′s, Sarkis has used installation, photography, watercolor and video to bring together the legacies of art and cinema with the intellectual traditions of East and West. His art explores issues of presence and absence, place and identity, permanence and transience. Drawing on the mystical traditions of the East, he is particularly interested in the relationship between time and memory, and emphasizes the temporary nature of matter and experience. He was the curator of the last ever Fureya Koral exhibition when ceramic artist Koral was still alive. As a professor at Strasbourg Beaux Arts, Sarkis has trained young Turkish artists including Su Yücel and Serhat Kiraz. Sarkis′s exhibition, A Milestone, was curated by Ali Akay, (May 2005) at the Akbank Art Gallery in Istanbul. The gallery devoted all of its six floors to the Sarkis. Apart from Turkey and France, Sarkis has exhibited his work in over three dozen countries, including the USA, Germany, India, Australia, China, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. Sarkis′s motto is "Anılarım Vatanımdır" (My Memories are My Country). Accessed 04.08.2009 from My memories, my country By Margaret Kemp, Financial Times Published: Apr 07, 2007 The artist Sarkis Zabunyan, known worldwide as Sarkis, was born in Istanbul in 1938. In 1964, to widen his horizons, he decided to visit Paris with Isil Akyuz, his young Turkish wife. They never left. I grew up in Istanbul. My father was a butcher; my mother a housewife. They had no schooling whatsoever and certainly no interest in art. Armenians from Anatolia, they escaped the massacres and in 1915 arrived in Istanbul, which was then Constantinople. Because I learned French at the Lycée Saint-Michel, a very strict Catholic school run by priests, I became intrigued by France. After my architectural studies at the Academy des Beaux-Arts, Istanbul, and my marriage to Isil, a philosophy student, we both wanted to discover the Louvre, to see real works of art such as Uccello's "The Battle of San Romano". When I was young I worked in a pharmacy and seriously thought of becoming a doctor. I would have done but I can't stand the sight of blood. When I discovered Edvard Munch, aged 15, I knew I wanted to become an artist. I didn't want anyone to know I was painting so I studied architecture. I have kept my mother's house in Istanbul. It's in the centre of town. All her furniture is there and I'm adding some of my works, so they can be side to side. One day I'll probably turn it into a museum. There are so many memories. I was a child of the second world war and it has marked my life. We were always toiling, trying to make enough money to survive. When she came to Paris to see me, my mother said she didn't know how I could live with all the odours and constant stress but I suppose that's what I thrive on. As Nietsche said: "Only that which never stops hurting remains in the memory." I am very proud that the Louvre asked me to create a concept exhibition for them as part of Armenia Year in France. My project is a meditation on space and time. Through video transmission I invoke the four works that have meant the most to me in my life as an artist: "The Battle of San Romano", "The Issenheim Altarpiece" by Mattias Grunewald, "The Werkcomplex" by Joseph Beuys and the painting that decided my career, Munch's "The Scream". With a technique never used before, three of the works are transmitted direct from the museums where they are exhibited and projected live, in the Louvre, on three large screens. It was not possible to transmit "The Scream" so I show my video film tribute to Munch entitled In the Beginning, Munch's Eye. It's my own virtual museum, realised with state-of-the-art technology. The Louvre gave me 'carte blanche'. I like to encourage promising young artists. Patrick Neu's extraordinary technique, whereby he paints "The Battle of San Romano" on smoked crystal wine glasses, is displayed alongside my installations. At the same time I also have an exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle and Neu exhibits some pieces. I also invited Jean-Marie Perdrix to decorate Antoine Bourdelle's typical French apartment with experimental African art - awesome pieces created using recycled black plastic bin bags, found objects and wood, all gathered in Burkina Faso. It is part of the movement called Yambaplast. Over there rubbish is a way of life. It makes the earth sterile so something must be done. I don't own a car. I discover everything by walking or taking the metro. My studio is a former printing factory in Villejuif. I do not consider it to be a Paris studio in the same way I don't consider myself to be a Paris artist. There's the entire world inside. I live within walking distance of the studio and compose works in my head while striding along the road. To bring me down to earth I stop for an espresso in a bar where they make the best coffee in Paris. I would know the taste blindfold. Or I stop at Le Rebelle, where a very large chef makes the best hot dogs in the world. I am always pleased to return to Paris.This is because I have developed regular habits in and around the city. I have travelled the world and clocked up 450 exhibitions in 100 museums. Returning to Paris, I get so much pleasure from the Pompidou Centre; the architecture is brilliant. Also the City of Music at La Villette, where the acoustics are so magnificent. I have just spent a few days in Le Croissic, near La Baule. I need to be in the wilds, to feel the wind, watch the strength of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks and cut myself off (except for Isil) from the world. But after three days I can't wait to turn the lock on the door of my atelier. Looking abroad, I am fascinated by India, China, Africa and Europe. My nature is such that I always look on the bright side, never find it necessary to be negative. The Villejuif metro station always stops me in my tracks. I really like living in Paris when I see Mario Cucinella's design. I take people there to see it. His focus of interest lies in the environmental quality of architecture and I admire the play on light and space. I lead a very simple life. I'm always working, even when I'm not working. I love to listen to music. In my studio I have a wonderful sound system. Then there's the City of Music at La Villette, the cinema, arriving home to the aroma of Isil's cooking. I consider myself to be a citizen of the world. I would like to witness the opening of the frontiers between Turkey and Armenia. In France, following Armenia Year 2007, they will celebrate Turkey in 2009. I would like to see the French invite young artists from both countries to exhibit their work together. You know, my motto is "Anilarim vatanimdir - My memories are my country". Accessed 04.08.2009 from
6 Selected Statements
      Worktype Info Year Country Admin
La Drama of the Tempest Installation 1974 Germany Edit
La Fin des Siecles, le Debut des Siecles Installation Musee dart Moderne 1984 France Edit
La Chambre Sourde Sculpture 1986 France Edit
Kriegsschatz (a R. Filliou) Installation 1987 France Edit
Ma Chambre de la rue Krutenau en satellite Installation 1989 France Edit
Geistesblitz Sculpture Kunst und Ausstellunghalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1995 Germany Edit