The lasting impression of Krikor Momdjian’s ‘Salt Room Wanderings - When Night Falls’ is still evident in the atmosphere at Pembroke college and gallery after the great success of the launch event on October 13th. ‘Salt Room Wanderings’ is not only the gallery’s first exhibition to focus solely on one artist, but it is also Krikor’s very first solo exhibition in the UK. His inspiring, challenging and emotive works - including paintings, etchings, installation, and poetry - have drawn a particularly wide audience from the general public, as well as the Oxford University community. Art enthusiasts, fellows and students, have all been affected by the narrative of the works, whose variation in style and mood act almost as a retrospective of Krikor’s life. From his Armenian-Lebanese background, his time spent in Jerusalem and Paris, studying and teaching, and more recently, his life in the Netherlands, to the shadow of the diaspora of the Armenian people following the genocide of 1915, these influences are paired with Kirkor’s own uplifting optimism and hope for peace, tolerance and communication in a world where wars and political turmoil divide peoples and nations.
Krikor “[sees] unity as a very broad, global issue… We all have to think that this planet is ours”, and so the universality, as well as the deep personal specificity of his work, has meaning for all. There are canvasses and etchings from as early as 1993, right up to the installation (‘When Night Falls - Dinner is ready in the Salt Room’), which was produced specially for the Pembroke exhibition. Krikor describes ‘Seasons come seasons go (Always in love)’ as his ‘Mondrian’, and it certainly draws the eye to the focal wall at the back of the gallery, guided by the linear nature and complementary colours of the installation in the centre.
The opening night was a celebration of both Krikor’s artworks and poetry, and was a true feast of culture. Theo Van Lint (Fellow in Armenian Studies), Sarah Hegenbart (Curator of Art at Pembroke Gallery) and Meris Ryan-Goff (JCR Art Fund Chair) gave their insights into Krikor’s exhibition - Hegenbart commenting in particular on Krikor’s philosophy and its reflection in all his works. The night also included a very special performance of Krikor’s poetry set to music by composer and pianist, Christoph D Ostendorf, and sung by German bass-baritone Florian Hille. The performance was captivating and evoked the passion, emotion, melancholy and hopefulness that lies behind Krikor’s words. His poems - written during his stay at Pembroke College - are now available to buy in a special-edition book, with translations and originals in Armenian, English, French and Dutch. The first copies of Krikor’s books were presented to Pembroke College Master, Dame Lynne Brindley.
Pembroke JCR Art Fund would be delighted to welcome you to ‘Salt Room Wanderings’ at Pembroke Art Gallery (5, Brewer Street, Oxford) on Wednesdays and Fridays (12-2pm) until final day, 25th November.
Meris Ryan-Goff, Committee Chair.