Friday, September 25, 2015


It has been 100 years since the beginning of the Armenian Genocide which saw a systematic decimation of the minority Armenian population of the then, Ottoman Empire. By 1918 almost 1 million people were killed, the rest left homeless, stateless and scattered to the wind and hospitality of neighbouring countries. Persia, more commonly known as Iran was one country that opened its doors to the Armenians – and it is where 73 year old Lio Faridani was born.

Last night the collective memory of Toronto's Armenian community gathered for the Art and Memory exhibit at Arta Gallery in the Distillery District. The moving and powerful exhibit of paintings and sculpture is dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Faces of desperate women reach out as you walk into the gallery. At 14 feet, Lio's painting depicting the suffering of the Armenian people through the anguished faces of the women left behind and in front of a row of soldiers, set up the visual journey through the collection of pieces.

Born in Isfahan, Iran, Lio moved with his family to Tehran at the age of six. He was always drawing and painting and interested in art as a boy. After high school he studied architecture and art in Florence, Italy which shaped and refined his life-long passion and talent as an artist. After a couple of years working on Poland and Denmark, Lio returned to Iran to continue working as a visual artist.

In 1987 Lio and his wife moved to Toronto where he has been working in architecture and art. "In my opinion, all architects should also be artists or they are not architects," he says laughing at his belief that the two disciplines are linked.

Of his huge painting at the gallery entrance, Lio prepared sketches over a long time detailing aspects of the genocide through research and personal stories growing up in Iran. A deeply personal piece, his painting is also a piece for the people and meant to survive for generations to come. "This is why I paint in oil, it is a medium that will last for people in the future to see," he says of the final work that took 2 1/2 months of continual work from the stack of sketches holding the collected memories of a tragic history.

You may see more of Lio's work here:


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