For his return to Chaumont sur Loire to celebrate 10 years of art at the Domaine, Sarkis, whose stained-glass windows of his exhibit Ailleurs, Ici can still be enjoyed in the maids’ quarters of the Château, suggested coming up with an original work by “repairing” a piece of furniture that has suffered at the hands of time, according to the Japanese technique Kintsugi. Exalted and brought back to life by the artist, this chest of drawers, whose cracks and wounds will be sprinkled with gold, will be showcased in Princess de Broglie’s Salon – proof that survival is possible, beyond the vagaries of time.
Kintsugi (金継ぎ) which literally means “golden joinery”, refers to a Japanese technique for repairing broken pottery or chinaware by means of lacquer mixed with gold powder. Developed in Japan in the late 15th century, this method embraces a philosophy taking account of the object’s past, its history and therefore any accidents which may have befallen it. The aim is not to hide the repairs; quite the reverse in fact, it is to bring them to the fore by using lacquer and gold powder. The art of Kintsugi has allowed a new style to take shape: broken objects can thus be given a new lease of life in another form.
Born in 1938 in Istanbul, Turkey. Sarkis lives and works in Paris.
Graduating from Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Istanbul, Sarkis had his first exhibition at Istanbul Art Gallery in 1960, before moving to Paris in 1964. Sarkis worked across a range of media and, by the late 1960s, had become an icon of contemporary art, not least for his installations.
In 2010, in the Passages exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Sarkis’ installations struck up a conversation with the works of Kasimir Malevich, André Breton and Joseph Beuys, one of Sarkis’ guides. Passages evoked both the idea of the permanent passage from the studio to the museum, as well as the project by Walter Benjamin on Parisian arcades. His pieces, which call on the artist’s Kriegsschatz (war chest in German), are made up of discovered objects, artworks or ethnographic objects from different civilisations.
In 2011, the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva (Switzerland) devoted a prominent retrospective on him called Hôtel Sarkis.
In 2012, he presented Ballads at the invitation of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and Port of Rotterdam (The Netherlands), followed by Ailleurs, Ici at the Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire. The same year, Sarkis took part in La Triennale in Paris, Intense Proximité at the Palais de Tokyo, and in “Néon, who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue?” at the Maison rouge – Fondation Antoine de Galbert, as well as the Istanbul Modern exhibition at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen of Rotterdam (the Netherlands).
In 2013, at the 55th Venice Biennale, Sarkis featured in the exhibition “When attitudes become form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013” at the Prada Foundation (Venice, Italy), a restaging of the historic exhibition from 1969 at the Kunsthalle in Bern (Switzerland) When attitudes become form: live in your head), to which the famous Swiss art historian and exhibition curator Harald Szeemann had already invited Sarkis at the time.
In 2014, the Musée du Château des Ducs de Wurtemberg in Montbéliard mounted a major personal exhibition in his name.
In 2015, at the 56th Venice Biennale (Italy), Sarkis was the artist invited to represent the Turkish Pavilion, and contributed to the Armenity exhibition at the Republic of Armenia Pavilion, which won the Golden Lion. In September, he exhibited at the 14th Istanbul Biennial (Turkey), and was also the guest artist at the Villa Empain - Fondation Boghossian in Brussels (Belgium) during the exhibition on Sarkis with Paradjanov.