PARIS — Acclaimed French Armenian artist Jean Jansem (Hovhannes Semerdjian) died on August 27 in a Paris suburb aged 93, his family informed the Armenian Embassy in France, ITAR-TASS reports.
Born in 1920 in Bursa, Turkey, Jansem spent his childhood in Thessaloniki, Greece, and left for France when he was 11.
In 1973 he visited Armenia for the first time. In 2001, thirty-four of his paintings were donated to the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute.
In 2010 Jansem was awarded with an Order of Honor of the Republic of Armenia for his contribution to the development of the Armenian-French relations.
Although the early chapters of his artistic life were difficult, in fact up to the war his most lucrative work was in the decorative arts – producing designs for fabrics and designing furniture, he never lost sight of his real passion, namely painting.
From 1934 – 1936 he attended a variety of evening classes in Montparnasse and the Marais. He met fellow Armenian teacher, Ariel, who taught him to draw, but it was in the works of Picasso that he found his grand revelation.
Before he was sixteen he had been admitted to the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs (1936 – 1938) where Beianchon, Leguelt and Oudet exercised a silent and unobtrusive influence on the young artist. During 1937 he completed a training course at the Beaux-Arts and at Atelier Sabatier.
In 1950 he went to Greece and it was in the Mediterranean that he discovered light, until then his painting had been sombre.
Then followed a period of activity in which he won many awards, in 1951 the Prix Populiste, 1953 the Prix Antral, 1954 the Bourse Natioale, in 1958 Prix Comparaison in Mexico.
In 1959 he participated in the Biennale de Bruges. He is a member of the Salon d’Automne and has participated in: Salons des Independents, Salon des Tuileries, Salon d’Art Sacre, Salon de l,’Ecole de Paris, Salon des Peintres temoins de leur temps. His paintings appear in Museums at Ville de Paris, Ennery de Paris, Poitiers and several Art Museums in the U.S.A.