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A path to art perfection - from school desk to mastery

ArtsakhInfo.There is a small attention-grabbing shop of souvenirs in the Azatamartikneri Street of capital Stepanakert. The shop is only 10 meters long and the pieces presented there are handmade woodwork created by self-taught artist Grigory Ghoulyan.

Grigory was born and raised in Martakert, attended the Chldran village school and, as he confesses, has never had a great desire for study. He was always drawn to art only. Up to date, he has created around 1000 wooden churches with his own hands; several times he made quite different souvenirs, picture frames, clocks, night lamps, jewelry boxes, kitchen utensils.

“I remember, sitting at the school desk I wasn’t listening to the teacher, he was explaining the lesson and I was making sketches of churches and buildings in my notebook. After the classes and even during those I ran to the workshop of carpenter Georgy. I liked following him, he worked cleanly with the wood. I was punished so many times for that, Grigory recalls, I was told to leave the craft, to learn my lessons, however, I couldn’t give up my favorite occupation. Only the master understood and encouraged me. Growing up, I entered the faculty of engineering of the Artsakh State University which I left after a year of study getting deeper into the carpentry. If I don’t create at least a day, I feel awful. I often meet the dawn working.”

At first, the artist did not think that his favorite occupation would become his main work.

“For years, I used to create and just present my works to people as a gift, but after serving in the army, I started to look at my works in a different light. I saw that they were really successful pieces and decided to put them up for sale. I sold them at a very low price so that to ensure the expense of the material. It took me a while to feel that I have improved myself.”

Grigory spends his weekends working in his workshop in Martakert, during the week days he works at the shop in Stepanakert. For several years, he has been working in various cities of Russia but he confesses that his heart is in the homeland and he does not see himself anywhere other than here.

There is a piece of art in his shop that doesn’t sell. In a non-selling frame there is a picture of April War hero Kyaram Sloyan. “Kyaram’s image is always in my mind. I have created this work to visit his parents. But when I learnt that his father died as well, the work remained with me.”

Everywhere people are familiar with Grigory’s works, he has regular orders. “I receive orders from Armenia, Russia, European cities. However, I don’t have an opportunity to deliver to far places. There are such machines and equipment that I can't bring to Artsakh, each of them is quite expensive, but each one does a separate job, and one needs to master all of them. I work by hand, I make the pattern with a pencil, thereafter I carve the wood, mostly with my own hand-crafted tools, then paint. Only carving on the wood does not work out. You also need to work with colors to show the subtlety of the engraving. That means, in this job you should be a good carpenter, a designer and an artist, have a creative mind and great diligence.”

The master talks about the future recalling his clients. “My clients made a big contribution to my becoming a master. Inspired by them, in the near future, I would like to expand the shop area, add assortment, and teach more students. I find it important to have such a shop in Artsakh where both the locals and the foreigners will find their favorite gift in conformity with their pocket means.”