Nairi Safaryan

If in 1980 somebody asked Nairi Safaryan – the newly graduate from Yerevan Polytechnic Institute – what are his feelings and what are his ambitions for coming ten-fifteen years, Nairi, undoubtedly, would have answered that he is extremely happy to have been offered a promising position at Research Institute, that he will put forth his knowledge and efforts in the career he is so fond of.

At that time, however, no one would have guessed that Nairi’s “first love” was woodcarving. His childhood together with the memories and stories regarding those wonderful years had remained in Shushi for in 1973 Safaryan family have moved to Yerevan. Here nobody knew that young boy from Nagorno Karabakh was famous there with his wooden toys, chalk sculptures, and drawings. Well, this was then and in Shushi, a beautiful place which is located in the Karabagh region of Armenia, where Nairi Safaryan was born in 1958. Now, in 1980, in Yerevan, after receiving his degree and diploma as an engineer, after being appointed to a promising position in prestigious enterprise, where, by the way, he meet his future wife Anahit (also Yerevan Polytechnic graduate), Nairi was ready to start a new life.

In 1987 Nairi Safaryan became a member of the Art Fund which gave him a chance to show his works. He displayed one vase and one jewel box. Both found admirers and buyers. Once again Nairi was reassured that his hands are capable of creating fine pieces of art.

Nairi decided to show his work at Vernisage (outdoor art fair in the central region of Yerevan). It was September 21st 1991, the day of Liberty Quorum, when he first time appeared in Vernisage with one of his work, a jewel box. He did not have his own display table, so he placed the jewel box on the ground in a corner. The box that was made of a single block of pear wood from a local Armenian orchard, carved several layers deep with vine leaves and fruits – each leaf so thin and light, each tendril so fine and sinewy, the fruits so remarkably natural immediately caught people’s attention who wanted but would not dare to touch the box as it seemed to be so delicate. Maybe this was the reason why everybody was stunned when congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., being accompanied with Armenian’s future Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi Hovhannesyan, approached Nairi, reached to the ground with obvious astonishment and took the box in his hands. He paid the price and joyfully went away. Nairi, walking away himself, sadly but proudly said goodbye to his work, while people still were talking about the box and saying that it was wrong of him to sell such a beautiful creation as the next one might not come out so perfect. However, Nairi knew “my next one will be better”.

Nairi did not go to Vernisage for next several months. He was working day and night. Combining his technical knowledge together with his artistic talent, he was designing and carving to the limits of the wood’s strength, achieving extraordinary levels of thinness and refinement of the material. Nairi Safaryan envisions the finished design before beginning.

In 1996, after being demonstrated in two shows at Yerevan’s Folk Art Museum, Nairi was named a Folk Master. Besides being unique as a performer, in his case master woodcarver, Nairi’s work has a specific charm because of his deep devotion to his roots and understanding of his national heritage.

Now world class carver and artist Nairi Safaryan’s carvings are exhibited in many museums and private collections around the world.


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