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2023 Yerevan International Print Biennale Puts Armenia on the Global Art Scene

By Hena Aposhian

Yerevan’s Fourth International Print Biennale, featuring the work of 350 artists from fifty-five countries, is underway in the Armenian capital’s Aznavour Centre from September 8 to November 8.  

Taking place for the fourth time in Armenia, this year’s Yerevan International Print Biennale is the second-largest Biennale of the year, with Poland being the first.

Print Biennale is an international festival that occurs every two years, with each country hosting its own program. The world's oldest existing biennial was the Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia which was founded in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art.

Sona Harutyunyan, Founding President of the KulturDialog Armenien and the Founder of the International Print Biennale Yerevan, says, “Any country that participates in Biennales marks a place for itself on the international art scene.”

As part of the Fourth Yerevan International Print Biennale, KulturDialog Armenien and the program’s organizing committee are holding the First International Printmaking Symposium, Yerevan 2023: “Armenia: A Center of Printmaking in the Region”, with the participation of international experts. 

Founded in 2017 by KulturDialog Armenien, the Yerevan International Print Biennale came about with the ultimate goal of placing Armenia on the broader cultural scene.

“In the fields of fine art, Biennale is the first and biggest international program there is, and the Yerevan International Print Biennale is the first and only one in the region,” says Harutyunyan.

International jury members selected the winners and honorable mentions at a September 8 awards ceremony. 

This year’s program also includes  presentations, talks, and workshops. The exhibition at the Aznavour Center is open to the public every day except Mondays from 11-20. There’s an art shop where visitors can buy prints of the original works, catalogs of previously showcased works, and much more.

Within the framework of this year’s International Print Biennale, the Organizing Committee is closely cooperating with UWC Dilijan College. For over six months, the students of UWC Dilijan College have been archiving the collection of the First International Print Biennale, Yerevan 2017. And on October 21, 2023, UWC Dilijan College and KulturDialog Armenien will present in the frames of the Fourth International Print Biennale, Yerevan 2023 "unfading" printmaking exhibition in Dilijan Local Lore Museum and Art Gallery. On November 8, the Yerevan International Print Biennale will have an official closing ceremony.

A major component that made this year’s program stand out was the large group of Armenian artists and professionals who worked on it and the support of Armenia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports, the Yerevan Municipality, and ambassadors of various countries. 

The number of both Armenian and international artists participating in the Yerevan International Print Biennale grows yearly, ensuring the Biennale serves as a hub for professionals to gather and create. The program sends out an open call for artists from all over the world, and throughout the years Yerevan has hosted artists from over seventy countries.

One of the major highlights of this year’s event was the participation of Paris Print Biennale founder, Jean-Pierre Tanguy, who expressed his gratitude to the organizing committee for the invitation.

In return, the Yerevan International Print Biennale will have its own booth at this year’s Paris Print Biennale, showcasing the works of ten Armenian artists. 

“We need to understand that we can resolve so many things through art and culture,” says Harutyunyan, who believes international art events and cultural programs such as the Biennale can truly benefit one’s country in multiple ways.

(Hena Aposhian is a freelance journalist who focuses on arts & culture. She is a graduate of the American University of Armenia and holds a bachelor's degree in English & Communications.)

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