Yvette N.Tajarian

André Sevrugian , known later as “Darvish,” was the son of photographer AntoineKhan Sevruguine , born on May 1,1894 in Tehran. Vasil, Antoine’s father, studied Oriental languages at the Lazarev School in Moscow, after which he entered the civil service, working as a diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Tehran. Vasil, due to his political position, was obliged to change the surname “de Sevruguine.” Antoine adapted the name slightly, while his son André returned to the Armenian spelling. Antoine Sevruguine left the world of photography an exceptional oeuvre, consisting of photographs of the various regions of Iran and the court of Naser ad-Din Shah of the Qajar Dynasty.

André inherited his father’s artistic predisposition, and was fascinated from a very early age by Persian poetry, which was later to be central to his artistic oeuvre. He was present when his father’s friends visited his home, and would listen in fascination when his father recited verses from the Shahname. Often he would put on an old helmet, jump on a chair and pretend to be Rostam, Afrasyab, Qejqaus or Bijan, the heroes of the epic. He belonged to the generation of artists of the first third of the 20th century who attempted to bring something new into the rich and renowned tradition of Pesian art, which had stagnated since the 19th century.

He proceeded to illustrate his childhood dreams, inspired by evening recitations of the Persian national epic Shahname in his parents’ house. In these pictures he was able to integrate the styles of the early and Safavid masters, such as Behzad and Reza Abbasi with their ornamentalized focus on detail, with modern elements, such as perspective, light and shadow, and spatiality. The result was again a series of illustrations of Omar Khayyam,Hafez and Baba Taher. Paintings on Armenian history and folk life, and particularly the songs of the Armenian bard Sayat-Nova, have a specific place in Darvish’s oeuvre. André Sevrugian let himself be inspired by the centuries-old tradition of Persian book illustrations, and yet his paintings are a unique synthesis of Western and Eastern art.

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