Kamo Nigaryan 1950-2011: The tragic demise of one of Armenia’s greatest contemporary artists.

Kamo Nigaryan, one of the pre-eminent contemporary artists working in Armenia passed away in Yerevan on December 23rd, 2011. The artist has been unwell for over a year but was on his way to recovery after an emergency surgery a month ago. His unexpected death was a severe blow not only to his family and friends but also the entire art world in Armenia where he was almost unanimously accepted as one of the great masters of post-Soviet Armenian art.

Nigaryan was mainly known for his disturbing neo-expressionist canvases that delved into the depths of human condition with a novelistic scale worthy of Kafka, Bulgakov and Dostoevsky. His photographic work, created during a short period in the 1990s and 2000s was a well kept secret and it was only in 2011 that Nigaryan agreed to exhibit these works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Yerevan.

© Vigen Galstyan 2008

A tireless innovator, Nigaryan brought his unique brand of philosophical transcendence, conceptual rigour and ‘politicised’ aesthetics to the photographic image, constantly pushing and transforming the photograph beyond the limitations of the medium. Interested equally in the social and art historical dimensions of photography, Nigaryan sought to synthesise seemingly incompatible polarities between painting, photography and graphic design, in the same way he broached the artistic heritage of Western and Eastern worlds.

While he remained somewhat outside of the contemporary ‘scene’, Nigaryan was fully engaged with current movements and ideas, ensuring that his art was always immediate, relevant yet unflinching, objective and dispassionate. 

Lusadaran is currently planning a full retrospective of Nigaryan’s photographic works that will travel to a number of major international venues between 2013 and 2014.