Kojoyan was born in 1883 in the city of Akhaltsikha. His father was a
jeweler. The childhood of the future artist was spent in Vladikavkaz (now
Ordjonikidze). Here he attended the city gymnasium working at the same
time at his father's workshop learning goldsmithcry, engraving and chasing
from his elder brothers. Kojoyan's first sketch "The Jewellers"
was done in 1898.
Sixteen-year-old Hakob left for Moscow and took engraving classes at the
workshop of Prousov.
In Munich H. Kojoyan attended the studio of A. Azbe, the artist.
The student years spent in Germany helped Kojoyan to get acquainted with
the color paintings of the old masters and the new artistic trends. Kojoyan
was especially interested in the works of Durer and in the artistic heritage
of Holbein and Cranach.
Soon Kojoyan entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, from which he
graduated in 1907 and then left for Paris staying there for two years.
After his return to Russia the artist lived in Moscow being mainly occupied
with easel-painting. The years spent in the army during the I World War
deprived Kojoyan of the opportunity to work.
Kojoyan's early works are almost not preserved, with the exception of
"The Portrait of Dubach", "Autoportrait" (1907). Kojoyan's
way in art with its constant development and integrity becomes obvious
only after 1918, when he settles in Armenia.
In 1918 Kojoyan together with an archaeological expedition headed by N.
Marr visited Ani. The ruins of the medieval Armenian capital with its
once famous and now only partially preserved palaces, churches
and frescoes enchanted and stirred the artist. Watercolor sketches done
on the spot were later used in "The Ruins of Ani" (1919). On
the blue background in brown tones the fortress walls and the palace ruins
are depicted in distinct contours. The strict simplicity and the epic
strength impart deep emotionality to this work. It is not documental in
its nature, but is historical in philosophical-artistic sense. Here we
find the artist's contemplations on rich cultural heritage, the destiny
of the Armenian people survived after the historical tragedy. Later Kojoyan
not once returned to these theme in color paintings and graphic works.
One of them, done in 1925, is preserved in :he Russian Museum.
In the beginning of the 20-s Kojoyan lived in Tabriz (Iran) for two years.
The artist's impressions found their expression in the genre paintings
"A Street in Tabriz", "An Eating-house in Tabriz".
During his stay in Iran Kojoyan created also some large-sized pictures,
such as "The Children of Tabriz", "Persian Bazaar",
"Persian Woman", "The Tabriz Dogs".
In 1922 by the invitation of the Soviet Armenian government Kojoyan returned
to Yerevan and began to participate in the cultural development of tlic
The art of Kojoyan of the 20-s is marked by an exclusive multisidedness.
He continued working in easel-graphics and chasing and began to illustrate
the first Soviet Armenian magazines and books. Together with landscapes
Kojoyan in this period created canvases on historical and revolutionary
The graphic works of Kojoyan of the 20-s are characterized with professional
ingenuinity. One of Kojoyan's best and complex works of tin's period is
the graphic composition "David of Sassoun". The Armenian folk
epic remained an unsurpassed monument of great poetic contents for Kojoyan
all his life. The language of the epic, the world of its characters, the
idea of ^the just struggle of the people for their liberation from foreign
conquerors were dear to Kojoyan and opened boundless opportunities in
The figure of David of Sassoun is in the center of the composition with
saber Tur-Ketsaki in his hand. Around him the illustrations of the third
chapter of the epic are placed, the childhood of David, the scene of punishing
Kozbadi, the death of Mesra Melik. The inner space of the canvas represents
the second raw of the miniature graphic pictures- the walls of the Sassoun
fortress, the Marouta Monastery, the figures of different heroes and episodic
ornaments. They are done in mild pastas gamut, while in the main part
each detail is expressively represented.
The "David of Sassoun" is marked for its artistic wholeness.
The clear waiter-color contours match with the inner linear rhythm, which
unites all the parts of the canvas.
The beauty and harmony of color strokes arc well expressed in another
graphic work -"The Women of Akhaltsikha". Female figures in
national costumes arc depicted in the rug-ornamented background made of
flowers, rosettes and tree brandies with fruits from fairy tales. The
color gamut of the paper is achieved by the harmonious soft shades of
dark dense leaves and white laces, brown and rosy tones of the women's
35 garments. The details of the garments are depicted with great care
and with a real artistic taste is performed the background of the paper,
where no one rosette repeats the pattern of the other.
In the graphic works "An Armenian Town-Crier", "The Sleeping
Persian Woman", "Armenian Stylization", done in that period,
one will find fairy talc elements in the figures and the plot, as well
as in the scenes-abundant use of ornaments, delicately refined details,
In 1925 Kojoyan did the illustrations of St. Zorian's fairy talc "Hazaran
Blbul" ("The Nightingale of a Thousand Voices"). The famous
folk talc attracted the artist's attention for its lyricism and wisdom,
vitality and fantasy. The illustrations of this tale very really express
the genuine spirit of it.
In the 20-s, after returning to Armenia, landscape painting became one
of the main genres in the art of IT. Kojoyan.
In the works "Lonely Oak: Kirovakan", "The Mountains of
Kirovakan", "Aparan Village", created in this period, prevail
soft tones of light brown, gray, violet, yellow-green. The brushstroke
is impulsive. The Geghard landscapes done in tempera, are performed in
a more reserved color gamut. The mountain-tops, the caves, walls of the
medieval monastery are well distinguished in the background of natural
sandy and greenish-yellow colors.
One of the most poetic canvases of Kojoyan, done in the 20-s, is the work
called "The Autumn in Yerevan". The lonesome tree, the gold
of the dead, falling leaves, the gray surface of the stone fence are depicted
with a delicate sense of taste and deep lyricism.
works on book graphics are one of the most interesting pages of the Armenian
art. His works done in the 30-s became an artistic school for the future
generations of the Armenian artists of book designing. Kojoyan's talent
as a master of illustration was fully revealed in the 30-s of our century.
Being a real artist by nature he deeply understood the main ideas of the
books. His graphic illustrations are marked for rich imagination and expressiveness.
Indeed, illustrations to "The Book of the Road" by Charents,
"Poems and Legends" by M. Gorki, "The Daredevils of Sassoun",
"Poems" by A. Vshtouni and stories of A. Bakounts are distinguished
for their originality.
Kojoyan worked on the illustration of "The Book of the Road"
by the author's suggestion, who then was the head of the literature section
of the Armenian State Publishing House.
Kojoyan deeply felt "The Book of the Road" both in poetic and
pictorial sense. The idea of the development of the world in the poems
of Charents iy revealed in the background of the epochs following one
another". These are philosophical contemplations on life and nature,
art, man and his creative work.
"I was impressed by the depth of his thoughts and his skill of making
the reader follow him and relive the events that he touched upon. As a
subtle and fastidious artist Charents deeply felt all the nuances of creative
work and was extraordinarily gifted", wrote Kojoyan about Charents.
The "Book of the Road" opens with the portrait-frontispiece
of Charents, a fine line drawing in its style.
In 1934 Kojoyan illustrated the first Armenian edition of the collection
of M. Gorki's "Poems and Legends". The artist composes spatial
plans accentuating the depth by the whiteness of the list, using the graphic
means of illustration.
Kojoyan's illustrations were represented in Moscow in 1934, in the exhibition
opened on the occasion of the first Congress of Soviet Writers. After
getting acquainted with the exhibition, Gorki duely praized the artist's
works. Kojoyan's illustrations of Gorki's "Poems and Legends"
are now preserved in the writer's memorial museum in Moscow.
The art of Kojoyan is deeply connected with the traditions of the Armcni-.n
fine arts. Being a master of pictorial art and graphics, he was at the
same time a subtle connoisseur of the Armenian ornamental painting, of
the stone dressings of khachkars and temple facades, of the medieval miniature
and decorative art. Yet the artist did not practice stylization of the
motives of Armenian ornaments. Pie applied to the pictorial sources and
works of the folk masters expressing in the works his individual artistic
searching. For example, in the title-pages and head-pieces of "David
of Sassoun" and "Anthology of Armenian Verse" the spiritual
and stylistic peculiarities of the design of the ancient Armenian vestries
and manuscripts is felt, while the head letters of the "Aghvesagirk"
of Vardan Aigektsi reproduce pictorially the manuscript of the medieval
master. Using the principle of the animal-formed head letters typical
for the Armenian medieval manuscript patterns, Kojoyan creates his own
figurative language of table narration. maintaining the expressiveness
in the sketches skillfully done in Indian ink.
The work of Kojoyan in book graphics in the 30-s first of all reveals
the artist's approach to the book, to its composition. Kojoyan considers,
that it is the contents of the book that predetermines its construction.
Hence, while illustrating a book Kojoyan attached major importance to
its architectonics, harmony laws, which are revealed only when the book
is conceived as a whole organism.
A fine example of such a thorough approach to his work became the illustration
of the "Anthology of Songs and Poems" of Sayat-Nova, which he
designed during the 40-s of our century.
The illustration of the "Anthology of Poems and Songs" o'f Sayat-Nova
is noteworthy for its graphic performance. The colours, lines, the whole
composition harmonize with the poetical images. The artist has indeed
subtlety expressed the world of Sayat-Nova's lyrics, This anthology is
one of the perfect and best works of Kojoyan in the field of book graphics
of the 40-s. In that period the artist also illustrated the "Selected
Poems" of A. Isahakian, "Ara the Beautiful" of N. Zarian.
The work of Kojoyan in the field of book graphics covers three decades.
The thematic of the books illustrated by the artist is wide and varied.
These are poems, fairy tales, stories of Armenian writers, musical and
All the hooks illustrated by Kojoyan possess the endless interest of life
and the light of uninterminable beauty.
"I have worked much on problems of graphics, and first of all I am
interested in the quality. What I mean is that the illustrations of a
book must reflect its context. I have tried to give the real atmosphere
of the book depict bright and truthful characters. Best of all I like
the illustrations done for the books by Gorki, Charents, N.Zarian and
Kojoyan's most beloved character of his painting was the phoenix. This
bird burning in the flames and rising again amidst the ashes remained
as the symbol of immortality of Art for Hakob Kojoyan.
1956 Kojoyan illustrated the legend "Parvana" by H. Toumanian.
Kojoyan once again subtlety expressed the idea of love as a symbol of
life and human beauty. Both of them, the poet and the artist, shared the
same love towards folk music, customs and folk-tales as a living source
In his "Legends and Poems", where actual historical events arc
blended with magic elements, Toumanian creates a unique world of folk
fantasy. Folklore in fact was an inexhaustible source for Toumanian's
The years spent in his father's workshop and perfect knowledge of the
fine arts' technique predetermined Kojoyan's interest towards applied
During the 20-s of our century he did sketches for silverware, and during
the 50-s worked with clay. The sketches for a silver jug, plate and cup
arc of ornamental character and vary in their form. lie created vegetable
and geographic ornaments and introduced the image of the magic bird of
love. The sketches of cut glass and porcelain plates show the artist's
rich imagination. The sketch of the "Sayat-Nova" plate represents
the hard's sitting figure on an ornamented background, resembling a gilt
lace. In another sketch one can sec finely outlined decorative figure
of an Armenian girl. These works maintain traditional features of the
Armenian folk masters.
Kojoyan worked till the last days of Ins life. He died in the spring of
The works of H. Kojoyan arc displayed in the Russian Museum in Leningrad,
Museum of the Art of the Oriental Nations in Moscow, Museum of Russian
Art in Kiev, State Art Gallery of Armenia. The art of Kojoyan found recognition
even in the 30-s. In this period his works were represented in several
international exhibitions of the Soviet graphic art (London, Philadelphia,
In 1973 the house-museum of Kojoyan
was opened in Yerevan. Here Ills color paintings and graphic works are
exhibited, including one of his last works, "David of Sassoun"
(1958). His unfinished picture "The Ruins of Ani" rests on the
easel in the artist's studio.