Vagrich Bakhchanian

Born: 1938, Kharkiv
Died: 2009, New York

Armenian poet, painter, graphic artist, collage artist, performance artist, writer of aphorisms and ditties. Born in the family of Hakob Bakhchanian in Kharkiv in the Ukraine (1938). Moved to Moscow (1960), where he began to develop his own personal system of “letter” painting and made collages from newspaper cliches and wallpaper (mid-1960s). Joined the Moscow alternative movement (1965). One of the first Soviet artists to create ready-mades, he was also interested in the book as a samizdat object and employed its possibilities in a mostly ironic fashion. Created collage books that could only be read using a mirror (late 1960s). Engaged in symbolical happenings and performances (early 1970s). Published collages in various magazines and his own writings in Literary Gazette. Worked in the humour department of Literary Gazette (1967–74). Emigrated to the United States (1974). Lived and worked in New York (from 1974). Designed a book entitled A Hundred Namesakes of Solzhenitsyn, consisting of a hundred portraits of people with absurd, fictitious first names and the surnames of leading dissidents (1975). Created an eighteen-panel caricature entitled Americans As Seen by Russians (1983). Died in New York (2009) and had his ashes scattered over a stone covered with ancient petroglyphs in the Geghama Mountains in Armenia (2012). Contributed to exhibitions, including Artists Against the State: Perestroika Revisited at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York (2006) and Adventures of the Black Square at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg (2007).

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