2 December 2009
Rain in Early May signed and dated 1940
Oil on canvas, 98 by 193.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, USA.
Literature: R.G. Drampyan, Sarian, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1964, p. 80, illustrated.
Related literature: For similar works, see Martiros Sarian, Compiler Ch. Khachatouryan, Samara, Agni, 2003, p. 268, 304.
A. Kamensky, Martiros Sarian. Oils, Watercolours, Drawings and Theatre Designs, Compliers Ch. Khachatouryan, L. Mirzoyan, Leningrad, Aurora, 1987, plate 177.
Rain in Early May is the only major work that Saryan painted during the war years. It stands out sharply from the other landscapes of the first half of the 1940s which were generally studies and quite small in size. The motif of the overcast day, which is rare in the artist’s output, contrasts with the theme of fruit trees in blossom that predominates in the canvases of that period. But the cheerfulness of nature being reborn can be seen in the fresh greenness of the rain-washed foliage on the trees and the brown moisture-rich earth.
The carefully delineated and harmonious compositional system of this landscape was to become the basis for subsequent works of the 1940s devoted to Armenia’s bountiful gardens. The view from above allows the artist to perceive the far-reaching spatial layouts and immense open spaces: the cultivated garden and the farm buildings beyond it, where life flows on gently and evenly, and finally, disappearing at the far end of the valley, a line of little houses that almost merge into the blue of the sky. Despite the large size of the composition, the integrity of perception is achieved through the unity of a space that is full of air and colour. The artist brilliantly transfers to canvas the various shades of young foliage that has just been washed by rain, the bluish-brown earth, only occasionally covered by greenery, the coppice-strewn valley stretching away and merging smoothly into a distant unbounded space. This motif of unstoppable movement, the boundary of which is only the high limitless Armenian sky, runs through the whole of Saryan’s landscape cycle of the 1940s. The epic nature that is typical of the artist’s early works achieves a particular fullness of expression in Rain. The bird’s-eye view and the steady movement into the depth of the pictorial space are combined with hints of calm and deep reflection, with a feeling of an eternal rhythm of life that will go on for ever.
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