"My paintings are an autobiography… not an autobiography of material kind, but an autobiography of soul…". Today is Jansem's birthday
"Painting is my life. And my paintings are
an autobiography of psychology, not a physical one…"
Hovhannes Semerdjian (Jansem) was born in a family of silk-maker, in Selenz near Bursa, Turkey. In 1922, fearing for their lives, the family fled to Greece. After her husband’s death, Semerdjian’s mother flew to France in 1931 – to cure her son’s broken leg, and settled in Issy-les-Moulineaux suburb of Paris.
The first professional school for Hovhannes was the free academies of Montparnasse (1934-1936). In 1938 he graduated from the National Higher School of Decorative Arts, after which he enhances his skills at the Sabatie studio for a year. His works began to be exhibited in 1944, in the Society of Independent Artists with his work "The Violinist". During the first stage of his creative life he painted on mainly national topics, which include "Hayuhin", "Armenian wedding", "Funeral" and other works. Some of these works are presented in the Armenian Art Museum of Paris.
The topics Jansem’s works are derived from the memories of his childhood about his motherland’s tragedy. The French theorists describe Jansem as a miserablist – an artist of unfortunate people. In 1956 Jansem was selected as a president of the Society of Young Artists, and in 1958 he won the Comparison prize in Mexico. He had dozens of individual exhibitions in Paris, New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Rome, Brussels, Lausanne, Beirut and elsewhere. With the French Art exhibition, his works have been presented in Moscow as well. Many of Jansem’s paintings have found shelter in the museums and individual collections of Europe and the US.
Jansem first visited Armenia in 1973. He visited again in 2001 by the invitation of president Robert Kocharyan, when he presented the line of works consisting of 34 paintings named "Eghern" (Genocide) of 2000-2001 years to the Armenian Genocide Museum. Jansem died in August, 2013.