International studio — 61.1917

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VOL. LXI. No. 242 Copyright 1917, by John Lane Company APRIL, 1917

The glory of painting is its colour,
and the glorious names among painters are those
of the colourists. You may have perfection of
form in sculpture, but the crowning loveliness of
colour is denied you. Colour is emotionally ex-
hilarating to the most of us, and when a man feels
colour with poignancy and weaves patterns with
it on canvas we are eager to see the result. A
primitive appeal, you may say, far below the in-
tellectual demand of the statue or the etching.
But food, drink and sleep all alike make primitive
appeals, and who dare deny their necessity?
Consider a colourless world. No gold in the
sunset, no blue in the midday sky, no red in the
summer rose, no green in the grass of spring—the
situation is unthinkable. We would all be
tempted to commit suicide within a week. Yet
these are but the primaries, nature’s Erst crude
efforts in colour. How wonderfully she has learnt
to mix them, grandly flinging toward us a thou-
sand ravishing tints to steal the very souls out of
our bodies! This is the state of rapture, common
to poets, painters, and other mad enthusiasts. The
love of colour primitive? Go to!
And so, colour, -being a thousand exquisitely
lovely and subtle things, can say a thousand beau-
tiful things to the beholder. And the painter
whose love for colour is a passion spells his devo-
tion in a thousand ways, and the last word in his
sentence is always “beauty.” Having found
beauty, he may rest assured that he has won
truth, for beauty is truth.
A colourist of the thousand tints is Hovsep
Pushman, born an Armenian, but for seventeen
years an American. His canvases shimmer and
shine like rich black opals, and their truth is the

truth of beauty. You and I may not see all these
colours in nature. How, indeed, should we? We
have never looked for them. When Pushman
searched, we may be sure that he did not use his
eyes only. If he had, he would have produced
dull copies of nature, not brilliant transcriptions
in art, interpretations as haunting as a poet’s
vision—which, of course, they are.
Pushman’s splendour of colour is not derived
from the art schools of the bizarre and beautiful
city of Constantinople, where he began the study
of art, for when I first met the young painter in
Chicago, almost twenty years ago, he appeared
to have been nourished on the dull traditions of
Munich, his painting was so conventionally brown
and correct. It was in Paris, under the magic
touch of Dechenaud, that he woke to a com-
plete realization of his Eastern heritage—the
Armenian’s full share, full and running over, of
passion and pain, of colour and imagination, of
feeling and poetry—the three movements, one
may say, of the perfect symphony of life. The
symphony in art, played or painted, is but a re-
flection of all these things.
The rich gamut of Pushman’s colour is almost
all of the Orient. What’s bred in the bone will
show itself on the canvas. A man’s soul does
not change with his body’s change of climate.
Perhaps the wise Dechenaud brought this truth
home to young Hovsep Pushman and urged him
to absolute self-expression. Perhaps, too, the
magnificent Oriental rugs which the Pushmans
handle commercially, and which Hovsep must
have seen and caressed from his earliest infancy,
so crammed his consciousness with the beauty of
their colours and patterns that he could never
get away from it.
In his pictures colour has both aesthetic and
spiritual meaning, and is never applied haphazard.
It is as carefully thought out as any other part

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