Sarkis was the artist entrusted with the second of the Centre-Val de Loire Region’s three-yearly commissions for the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire (2011 – 2013). He has left 12 of the 72 stained-glass windows that he designed specially for the Domaine to it.
Sarkis’s work has a profound humanism and comprises representations composed of objects, sculptures, water colours, photographs and films, all created by the artist himself, which are nourished by references to history, philosophy, religions, the arts and geopolitics. They continually endeavour to build a bridge between works from the past and the contemporary world. Whether this involves works of art, architectural works or urban areas, they are complete places, which he invests with his work under ever-changing conditions (materials, light and colours).
Sarkis has designed this pathway of light like an initiatory and mental journey along which visitors write their own story. He has placed his glass exhibits in front of the windows of the Château’s former rooms for domestic staff. Unveiling images of life and death, love and architecture, these windows capture past histories and future visions in the present moment. Sarkis compares pictures of old techniques with those of daily life.
These panes of stained glass are transformed with the ever-changing light. At night, they are lit by LEDs which take over from the natural light.
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.