1891 - 1964
1920 - 1960s
Mushegh Hovhannisyan’s personal fate was full of hardship. During the Armenian Genocide of 1915 he survived by escaping to Batumi, after which, in 1924, he was able to relocate to Yerevan. Tragically, he was exiled to Sibiria just a few years later. Having been sent to the warfront at the beginning of WWII, Musheghyan returned to Armenia only to be exiled once again – this time to Azerbaijan. It was only late in life, that the photographer was able to permanently relocate to Armenia, getting a house in Hoktemberian region’s Myasnikyan village.
According to Vahan Kochar, Hovhannisyan became interested in photography during his teenage years in Bitlis, where he apprenticed under local Armenian photographers. Even in his years of exile, he was able to continue working in his profession, producing snapshot photographs and portraits of fellow deportees. The current whereabouts of these images, as well as the photographers’ archive are unfortunately unknown to us. In Shamkhor, Azerbaijan, Hovhannisyan had a small studio and upon returning to Armenia, he immediately began corresponding with local press, publishing his photographs in Sovetakan Hayastan (Soviet Armenia) magazine and a number of newspapers.
Those few photographs by Hovhannisyan that have reached us in the form of reproductions, do not allow to form a general idea about his full creative trajectory. His documentary, reportage shots from the 1950s make evident the photographer’s skill at creating robust compositions and the ability to relay the atmosphere of a place through succinct and straightforward means. While these images were made with the idea of praising the Soviet way of life, their simple pastoral tonality and the overall humanistic outlook are entirely devoid of the formulaic modality of propaganda photography.
AzSSR, USSR, Armenia, ArmSSR, Ottoman Empire
Bitlis (b.), Shamkhor, Yerevan, Myasnikyan village
studio, documentary, photo correspondent
Kochar, Vahan. Hay Lusankarichner [Armenian Photographers, in Armenian], self-published, Yerevan, 2007, p.212