I made a special trip to Vernissage in order to find some more images for (shameless plug ahead) my new Instagram account, TheVernissager. I had made my rounds and was about to turn around to head home when I remembered to visit one of my favorite artists.

The arts section of Vernissage consists of one long row at the very end where artists display their art. Many of them are variations of your standard Armenian motifs: Ararat, pomegranates and churches.   The allure to use these images is of course great as they are symbolic of Armenian culture and they sell. However, while you’re strolling along, you may notice the work of Andranik. Its not very easy to miss him as his subjects are quite unique. Andranik has portrait after portrait of chairs. Metal and wooden chairs. At first glance, it’s a little weird. Lets be honest. But they have become among my favorite so I approached to take a few pictures when Andranik decided to strike up a conversation, that is when I learned about my new friend.

I won’t go into details as to why he decides to paint chairs as I don’t think anyone but the artist can explain it well enough. However, Andranik is not only a painter, but a linguaphile and staunch lover of all things Armenian. I learned that Andranik (Anto, as I plan on calling him as soon as our friendship blossoms further, we haven’t discussed details but I’m sure he’ll be ok with that moniker) has travelled throughout Armenia and Western Armenia. Though seeing Western Armenia was very emotional for him, Anto’s favorite location was Tatev. He also asked me where I was from. Now, when people hear that I am from America and moved, there are only two responses. The first is when the person’s head explodes. The second is that it is completely normal and understandable, if not expected. I love these people. Anto was in the latter category.

Anto is a person who you will pass while you are looking at art at Vernissage and perhaps keep walking. But Anto is just one of many people here who have a story and opinions and interests and an abounding love and faith in the country. Not everyone wants to leave, not everyone is depressed or blah blah. The banal portrayal of everyone being a curmudgeon or itching to vacate the premises has run amuck in our narratives and how we like to portray people here. There are many who would not leave this place under any circumstances. Its just a matter of stopping and striking up a conversation to see that nothing in Armenia is black and white.

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Meet the artist.

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