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Both in his paintings and in person, the painter gives honestly of himself, acknowledging his influences and laying his innermost riches before us. From Alexandria in Egypt, where he was born in 1933, all the way to Montreal, where he settled more than thirty years ago, his life as an artist has been a wide open book.
Thus Berge Missakian's recent works, which are veritable hymns to life, appear as the outgrowths of a process in which logic and the joy of living are fused. We are not dealing here with a "proposition" but with a true offering, abundant and generous.
Just look, for example, at the series of large still lifes that pay tribute to the artist's influences and offer music, fruit and wines as our common legacy. And while the eye may delight in the guileless quality that emanates from Missakian's work, one should be wary of the apparent naivetÚ of the treatments, which conceals a highly structured organization and a composition that leaves nothing to chance. Each element finds its rightful place in a well balanced whole, where the clear, lively colors are backed up by solid construction.
But let us return to those influences, which the painter freely displays and acknowledges. Picasso, Mondrian, Matisse and CÚzanne -- Missakian's canvases abound with candid winks in the direction of those people who nurtured him and whom he now pays homage. And each tribute is consistent down to the smallest details of each canvas, where subjects and styles meet and combine.
To ensure that viewers do not miss the meaning of his work, Missakian willingly entertains a comparison of his paintings from 1975 to the present. At one moment we see a strictly Cubist church in Montreal -- "in the style of Lyonel Feininger," the artist informs us. "My palette then was much more controlled. Today it's more fluid, but the Cubist influence is still in the background. I still observe things from the same angle, but I have moved away from a rigid handling to a more relaxed treatment. I am not repudiating that period: it was the way I saw life then."
In fact, Missakian now offers us a view "from within," a view "on the move." While it has not diminished in any way, the emotional charge of the works seems more immediate, direct and, certainly, more joyful.
To use an analogy, we could say that we have stepped inside the church from the square and proceeded through the nave to the choir. We find ourselves in a place devoted to offerings, sharing and expressions of gratitude. Wine is being poured; the fruit is ripe, someone's playing the piano, and Picasso's Pierrot is extending a hand. Missakian has set the table and prepared the feast. And we are all invited!
Bernard Daoust, Parcours Magazine