A descendant of a Genocide survivor, Tengiz Mikoyants found his voice in art. His canvases, painted with a palette knife, are full of colors, vitality and good humor. His works are highly regarded by the Georgian authorities and are often given to visiting dignitaries as a memento of their trip to Tbilisi.
Having lived among Georgians his whole life, the artist says he never felt any cultural or other differences between himself and his neighbors. As a child, he never felt the need to learn about his roots. It wasn’t until he was older that some of his peers started questioning his background. “I was indignant. Why was this happening? People wanted to know what I was doing here. I ran into some problems.
Someone even suggested that I should change my last name before applying to the Arts Academy.
But I’m very proud of being Armenian, and why would I need to change my last name? It’s not that bad,” Tengiz jokes.
Tengiz Mikoyants was born in 1964 in the town of Khashuri in the Soviet Republic of Georgia. From 1985 to 87 he studied at the Toidze Art College. In 1989 Mikoyants was admitted to the Tbilisi State Arts Academy, where he completed his studies cum laude in 1995. After graduating, he displayed his works in Germany, Italy and the United States.
Since 2005 Mikoyants has held solo exhibitions in Yerevan, Tbilisi, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tyumen. His works can be found in private collections in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Georgia and many other countries. In 2011 the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora awarded the artist the Arshile Gorky medal. The award is given to those who disseminate fine arts, painting, sculpture and drawing and raise awareness of Armenian arts in the Diaspora.
“Tbilisi is my real art instructor,” said Mikoyans, remembering how he “got forever stuck in this fairytale city.” “I first came there in 10th grade. That was when the first ‘Tbilisoba’ (city day) was taking place. In the evening light, the festive city seemed looked like a setting for a fairytale. I forgot about my plans to apply to the Art Academy in Kiev, I was smitten with Tbilisi. It put its spell on me,” he recalls.
The artist has lived in Tbilisi ever since. He says that even if he lived somewhere else, he would still paint the old part of Tbilisi, which inspires him to this day.
This is where Tengiz started a family. Smiling, the artist talks about his three sons and young wife, Gana, half Armenian, half Ossetian. His face lights up when he shows her picture on a smartphone.
From loveless to loved
“A lot of my character comes from grandmother Arevak. She was a very cheerful and a very proud person,” says the artist. Grandmother Arevak (maiden name Arevat Vardanyan) lived a long and hard life. She was just three years old when the Turks slaughtered the population of her native Mush (a town located in modern-day Turkey).