He was a 6’ 5” handsome man with thick black hair and dark, bewitching eyes. He liked to sing and dance – a testament to his Armenian cultural roots from Vaspurakan. Pictorial art has been the fuel for his existence since his youth.
Vostanik Adoian’s niece Azadouhie Amerian Miller says that Adoian’s decision for changing his name to the pseudonym Arshile Gorki wasn’t opposed by his relatives, who didn’t even imagine that he would become famous. “His birth name would be difficult to carry as an artist,” says Azadouhie.
To make a living and often for survival’s sake, Adoian has been selling his works for $25, $50, or $500, and sometimes just gave them away to his fans, saying: “Someday, this will be very valuable.” Adoian’s art pieces are now showcased in renowned museums and are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions.
Adoian, who had become famous for his surrealistic style, committed suicide at the age of 48. Many of his valuable works have been lost to a fire in his studio in Connecticut. Others were destroyed in an airplane crash on their way to an exhibit in California.
Adoian has often been sick and at some point became a victim of the unfaithfulness of his American socialite wife. He was also estranged from his beloved daughters Maro and Natasha. How many tragedies should one person go through? Even his friendly artistic circles haven’t been in consistent relationships with him: they have admitted his genius but envied him.
Fortune has turned its back on Arshile Gorky. He was the son of Armenia and a witness to the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. His father had left Armenia for the US many years before the Genocide. Gorky and his mother had to take care of each other themselves, which caused Gorky to feel dislike for his father.
Gorky’s bond with his devoted mother has been everlasting. They have together endured the torture and the severities of the Genocide. Gorky’s mother would later die of starvation.
The artist’s early years in Van have been idyllic, surrounded by the abundant gifts of nature, gorgeous mountain backdrops, fields, and the blue sky of Lake Van. He remembered all this to later transfer his memories to his resonant paintings. Having begun with figurative, Gorky would later shift to surrealism. The irregular shapes on his canvases were exaggerations of the forms that had surrounded him in Van, where his artistic soul had been born. The creativity of Gorky that he placed on his canvases of the highest quality is a testament to his life in Van.
If Armenians indeed yearn for their souls to return to historical Armenia, their homeland, then Vostanik Adoian has definitely found peace. You may even hear him uttering “Akh-Tamar”, if you listen carefully.