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“Immortal Rights”- Raffi Tokatlian’s Art Exhibition in Beirut: Promotes Awareness and Fosters Understanding

16.03.2015   00:08

By Dr. Vicken Assilian

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One of the outstanding atrocities the Turkish state conducted in the post-Genocide era was the systematic destruction of Armenian cultural heritage still standing on the land which was the cradle of Armenian civilization.

Indeed, next to the demolition of Armenian residential quarters and areas, villages and towns hundreds of lay and religious sites were totally ruined on purpose in order to erase any monumental proof of Armenian existence on the Western Armenian Highland or eastern Anatolia as and Cilicia.

Armenian artifacts of all sorts: metal work, needle work, tapestry and thousands of Armenian manuscripts  had the same fate as the Armenian architectural monuments of Western Armenia.

This is why this exhibition has a nuanced value, an undertone, and bears a symbolism of the Armenian Genocide that goes beyond the mere artistic reaction to human savagery.

Raffi Tokatlian, a sculptor of revealing talent and one of the finest figurative artists in Lebanon, was born and raised in Beirut, under a caring grandfather, the only member of the family to survive the Armenian genocide.

Raffi grew up in an artistic milieu, with his grandfather’s stories of deportation, national decimation and his own exodus in the context of the Armenian genocide. These stories and eye witness accounts of a grandfather so closely related to a child enabled Raffi to see the world through the eyes of his grandfather. Such an outlook would definitely shape the emotional core of Raffi’s sculptural work.

We believe if humankind is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationship, educate humanity with the skills of tolerance and ability to live together, in peace.

Raffi Tokatlian’s art inspires us not to lose faith in humanity. Raffi argues that humanity is an ocean. And if few drops of the ocean are dirty the ocean does will not be contaminated.

By reiterating the massive, traumatic acts of genocide and raising simple questions of “how” and “why” motivates the viewer for consideration, contemplation, greater understanding and a better perception, for a better world to come. This exhibition has the mission of promoting awareness and fostering understanding.

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