Cosima spender has clarified the other side of the story I had heard about the life and death of Vostanik Adoian (aka Arshile Gorky). In 2002, I met the late Badal Badlyan, the art dealer on Yerevan's Abovian Street. He was the President of the Arshile Gorky Foundation. He had tried to contact Mougouch and the rest of the family, but they did not wish to talk to him. He ended-up doing a documentary on Adoian, also with a visit to khorgom, his native village where he managed to find an Adoian tombstone which he brought back to Armenia. He projected the Première of his documentary at the Kino Moskva in Yerevan in 2007. The story is very much similar to what Cosima Spender has uncovered in this documentary, except that Spender shows what her grandmother felt at the time of these tragic events when she was 26. She also reveals why Adoian changed his name to Gorky.
But she does not stop there. Spender takes her mother and her aunt on a voyage to Adoian's birthplace, his old house in Khorgom and shows us the beauty of the Lake Van area that you recognise in Arshile's paintings. She also recounts, with archive photos taken during the Genocide of the Armenians, what the young Adoian went through and how this was also reflected in his paintings. It was amazing to see how Adoian's two daughters, who grew-up not knowing that they were half-Armenian, reacted when visiting their father's birthplace.
This movie is a must-see for those who want to understand Gorky's art and for those who are curious about the truth of his background. Spender has done a superb job here showing delicately and honestly "the pain" her family had gone through "and the courage" they all showed opening-up for us to know the real story.