Jean Kazandjian Biography

Jean Kazandjian




Jean Kazandjian was born in Beirut, Lebanon on February 10, 1938, where he lived until his early twenties. He attended the Armenian Mekhitarist School in Beirut where he became known for his drawings and caricatures. He was influenced by a wide array of Mediterranean cultures. In 1952 he studied in the French College, the annex of the American University of Beirut (A.U.B). His drawings were inspired by the classic masterpieces, which were illustrated in black and white in the art books in his family's home. In 1962 He won the first prize in a competitive tapestry exhibition organized by the Sursock Museum of Beirut. He decided to continue his education in the center of the art world at the time: Paris, where he visited the Louvre Museum several times a week. He also met the painters Jean Carzou and Leon Tutundjian.

Of Armenian heritage, he was also exposed to French and English as a second and third language. His family had fled Turkey in 1915 at the onset of the Armenian genocide; after spending many years in Ethiopia, they settled in Lebanon in 1933. Beirut was a culturally rich and sophisticated city and was often referred to as the Paris of the Middle East prior to the civil war, which began in 1975. Jean is the third of five children.

Kazandjian spent the 1970s traveling between Lebanon and Paris. In 1982 he traveled to New York for the first time to meet with his mother. Amid the collections of the Modern Art Museum in New York, he discovered the painter Willem de Kooning, another artistic expression that would influence him during the following years. This prompted him to completely change his work; he destroyed his compositions on paper and his paintings, considering them gloomy and outdated. Solo exhibitions at the Galerie UNIP in Lausanne, followed by the Galerie L'Estampille in Brussels, where he showed drawings and watercolors.

Jean Kazandjian continues to exhibit throughout Europe, American and the Middle East.