From clay to mosaics, a video documenting the creation of Moroccan terracotta mosaics or Zellige (الزليج). A beautiful form of Islamic art used in Moroccan architecture consisting of individual cut geometric clay tiles intricately arranged and set in a bed of plaster.
Born to Armenian parents in 1925, Marcos Grigorian emigrated to Iran where he studied fine art, travelling to Rome where he completed his studies at Academia di Bella Arti and eventually moved to New York in the 1960s where he began the infamous Earthworks series that saw him move toward Minimalism. Inspired by the Minimalist works of American artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman or Donald Judd, Grigorian adopted motifs, namely of the square and circle, that became recurrent within his multiple works of this period and was even used on the poster of his solo exhibition in the Iran-America Society in Tehran in 1971.
In Quattro Staggioni from 1971, Grigorian adopts the symbol of the circle, square and cross to reference in a symbolic way Armenia. Through both their materials and form, they relate to heaven and earth, spirit and matter. From the deadness of the earth emerges life, and its soil and golden straw are symbols of life and of the sun. The union of the two factors, spirit and matter, and their becoming one is the first step in creation. The form of these pieces makes reference to sacred geometry and esoteric teachings through repetition of the square and the circle, the square being the symbol of the earth, the circle that of the heavens. The textured surface and the play between light and shadow offers an even more dramatic effect, adding to the three-dimensionality quality of the work and play between earth and heaven.
During 1960s and 1970s when Grigorian produced the Earthworks series, this image reappeared repeatedly as it was seen as a universal motif that could be employed in various contexts. The central circle filled with golden straw is a direct reference to a 1968 work entitled Summer of 1968. Likewise, that same year, Grigorian adopted the use of a circle enclosed within a bold square and dominant cross within another work entitled Peace Treaty of Nevarsag which referred to a peace treaty between the Armenians and Persians in 484 AD.