Urban Living

Feb 16, 2017

Armenia through the eyes of an Artist: an Interview with Maïda Chavak

Maïda Chavak is a French-Armenian artist. She is a stage designer and an illustrator. She lived most of her life in France and she has been visiting Armenia for the past ten years where she held many workshops and did many projects. Let us find out what she has to say about Armenia.

Why Armenia: what motivated you to come to Armenia?

Maïda: I’ve been visiting Armenia for over ten years now. My mom being Armenian was an opportunity, or a good pretext I don’t know, to discover a country in the East. I started to come often and each time I did different projects. For example, a few years ago in Shushi at the Naregatsi Art Institute, I worked with children and we made animation movies; after I did another workshop in Tumo. I am always drawing during these trips and last summer, I decided to come to Armenia to draw again. Sometimes I plan what I'm going to do and sometimes things are already organized. Let’s say that improvisation, for some projects, is a precious energy. 

Why Armenia: In what way do you think Armenia is interesting for artists? Especially for foreign artists.

Maïda: There is more space to imagine new things, the rhythm of the daily life is more peaceful. This year I was working in Ashtarak: it’s quieter than Paris!

Why Armenia: Generally how do you feel about Armenians? Do you think the stereotype about Armenians being hot blooded people is true?

Maïda: Not specially. It's like everywhere in the world, it depends on the people you meet.

Why Armenia: Is there anything you would like to tell us about your experience in Armenia?

Maïda: Every time I come to Armenia, I meet new people from different regions, Artsakh or from all around the world and each of them has a different story. When I leave and decide to visit Armenia again, I start thinking about the reason that makes me want to come back. I guess what makes me want to come back here are my acquaintances, and the landscapes. And also, Armenia surprises me at every visit.


Why Armenia: You said you have visited a lot of places in Armenia. Was there a specific place that impressed you a lot?

Maïda: Last summer, we went on the top of mount Ara and it was so beautiful. We went also to pick grapes, apricots and apples, and it was another way to discover people and the countryside.  

Why Armenia: You held an exhibition called “Glimpse” in Dalan Art Gallery. What was the feedback of people?

Maïda: The portraits that were displayed were sketches I drew quickly before in the street. I did not paint the faces with details, I just drew my impression about people. What was interesting is that visitors started recognizing some faces. Others, those who did not recognize faces, were just staring at the portraits and laughing because of the traits of the faces. It was nice to see them laugh.

Why Armenia: As far as I understood, you are planning to come back. Am I right?

Maïda: I don’t know, but maybe, as always, I will decide to come back… But currently I don’t have any projects in Armenia, I am working in Paris on various projects.

Why Armenia: How would you describe Armenia?

Maïda: I think it's better to take a look at my drawings!