June 28th- August 6th 2014
Brand Library and Art Center
One of the most important prophets of cinema, Sergei Parajanov, is perhaps the least celebrated visionary in the art of film. As an Armenian artist and film director Parajanov survived Soviet imprisonment and unprecedented personal tragedy which he overcame through his refusal to cease creating his art. Parajanov’s works bring to life the rich vernacular of the ethnic cultures suppressed throughout the Soviet system animating the mythologies of the trans-Caucasian world into his poetic lexicon of cinema.
Parajanov has been recognized by his peers Fellini, Godard, Antonioni, and Tarkovsky as one of cinema’s greatest masters. Parajanov’s influence in recent years has been widespread in the art world. His imagery and mis-en-scene have had a profound impact on contemporary artists and helped usher in a renaissance of the Surrealist tradition. His films have inspired well-known contemporary directors Tar Sem and Mark Romenek, who echoed his stylization in his videos for Madonna.
The exhibition which is being organized in collaboration with the Parajanov- Vartanov Institute in Los Angeles and the Parajanov Museum in Armenia will transport drawings, paintings, and works in collage from the museum’s collection as well as play a succession of the artist’s work in film. The exhibition which celebrates the 90th year of Parajanov’s birth will premiere at the grand re-opening of the Brand Library and Art Center nestled in the foothills of the Verdugo mountains of Los Angeles County.
The Brand Library and Art Center, recently magnificently restored to its original grandeur, has served for many years as a cherished cultural treasure in Glendale, California, minutes from downtown Los Angeles. It houses one of Los Angeles’ largest public art and music collections and offers a variety of programs including music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, lectures, and other special events. The city has invested 9 million tax dollars upgrading the facility to a world-class institution.
Parajanov’s work consistently rests at the crossroads of dream and illusion, which is specifically echoed in the Saracenic style of the Brand’s El Miradero mansion built to resemble the 1893 Chicago Columbian World Exposition’s East India Pavillion. The El Miradero was built in 1904 and designed by the founder Leslie C. Brand’s brother-in-law architect Nathaniel Dryden.
In 1969 the city of Glendale gave the El Miradero an extension with a modernist wing of honeycomb architecture that now houses the Brand Art Center galleries. The Brand Art Center’s galleries serve as an ideal location for the Parajanov exhibition, as its architecture recalls the artist’s stylization and mythical use of orientalism and romanticism. The Brand Library and Art Center’s expansive park grounds, including a Japanese Tea Garden, provide a confluence of varying cultures concurrent with Parajanov’s overall objective.
The expansive park grounds include its pavilion inspired mansion; hiking grounds with a waterfall, numerous sports facilities and a historic Victorian house transplanted to the grounds. This diversity makes it an ideal oasis for outdoor performances which will take place in conjunction with the Parajanov exhibition. The Brand Library and Art Center’s new director Annette Vartanian will take the Art Center in a new direction that promises to offer a compelling calendar of contemporary art within the Los Angeles basin.
This new direction will be boldly displayed in its first solo artist exhibition ‘Parajanov’ which will be curated by Laura Whitcomb in a revolutionary means of exploring the art of the film scene. This will be supported by the artist’s drawings, works in sculpture, paintings and collage which the artist referred to as “compressed films” and at times form the storyboards for his films.
The Georgian born Armenian artist , Parajanov, opened a window into the trans Caucasian world spanned the territories from the Ukraine to Azerbaijan. His scenes were replete with mystifying traditions, mythologies and rituals that were endemic to each of these varying landscapess. Parajanov shot some of his most indelible scenes on grounds of tragic ethnic conflict and sacred religious ceremony. The film maker and artist believed the earth’s soil bore an energy of its past ; art having the power to harness its rapture and or heal its torment. It is for this reason the exhibition will bring elements from the earthen grounds of these landscapes conveying the power to ritualize a new future through the transgression of art.
The exhibition will also be in conjunction with a film festival that will highlight the films of Parajanov along with his colleagues, influences and mentors Andrei Tarkovsky, Alexander Dovzhenko, Pier Paolo Pasollini and Michelangelo Antonioni. Emerging films and documentaries from trans -Caucasian film makers will also be a supplemental addition to the festival. Calendar dates will be posted May 15, 2014.