by Julia Hakobyan
The grave of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow is distinguished by an extraordinary memorial tombstone in the form of a billowing Russian tricolor made of white marble, blue Byzantine and red porphyry.
The expressive fluttering flag set in stone is meant to symbolize the uneasy decade led by Yeltsin (1991-99), who died in 2007.
When it was installed in 2008, the memorial drew praise and outrage, equally aimed at the creator, 65-year-old Armenian Georgiy Frangulian.
Frangulian is known in Moscow and far beyond. His sculptures can be found in many famous museums and are kept in private collections. But to the larger public, Frangulian is known for his urban monuments.
His sculptures, which stand throughout Russia and Europe, include a monument to Russian Czar Peter the Great in Antwerp and one to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in Brussels. His floating sculpture “Dante’s Boat” is an ornament for the water in Venice, Italy, and the bronze Crucifix installed at St. Francis Church in Ravenna, Italy, was consecrated in 1990 by the Vatican.
Armenians of Moscow proudly show guests another sculpture by Frangulian in the Russian capital—located in a small public garden near the House of Composers and dedicated to the great Armenian composer, Aram Khachaturian, author of famous ballets Spartacus and Gayane, whose memory is perpetuated amid musical instruments.
Frangulian was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and soon his family moved to Moscow where in 1969 he graduated from the department of sculpture of Stroganov College.
“I am an Armenian who grew up in Moscow. I do not speak Armenian, but no doubt I feel myself an Armenian,” says Frangulian.
“Sometimes I hear criticism that I do nothing for Armenia, but for some reason I’ve been unable to develop ties with Armenia so that I could create some works in the country.”
He has offered to create a work to stand in Republic Square in Yerevan, but the offer has gone unanswered. Frangulian wants to create a piece to stand on the site where a statue of Lenin stood until 1991.
“On my own initiative I turned to the urban development authorities of Yerevan and proposed a project of a sculpture in Republic Square, but several years have passed and I haven’t received any response,” says Frangulian.
The project proposed by Frangulian consists of sunken and ground-level compositions of four tufa crosses and glass, and under them a display of examples of early Christian architecture of Armenia.
Frangulian says he wants very much to realize the project he has suggested for Yerevan, as he thinks the suggested monument expressively reflects the current state of the nation – with crosses directed in four directions symbolizing the Diaspora scattered all over the world.
“Many cities of the world have my sculptures. And I would like my work to be present in Armenia as well,” he says.