Portrait of Dimitrios Longo. 1959
Oil on cardboard
By the end of his life Nalbandyan himself had forgotten under what circumstances he had created this brilliant study. On the back of the picture is the Italian name "Longo". But fate had played a trick on him. In the 1990s, talking about this portrait, Nalbandyan said that the old man was one of the fishermen painted for his work "Lenin and Gorky on Capri among the Fishermen." It turned out that Nalbandyan had unwittingly given the picture a new history, and this "Portrait of Dimitrios Longo" for a long time bore the title "The Italian Fisherman Longo, who saw Lenin." Only recently has historical justice been restored. In his colourful oriental robe, Longo is certainly not dressed for fishing, and he has been photographed repeatedly in this robe as a dervish and "the last Russian fakir". As a boy, he joined a traveling Italian magician and mastered spectacular tricks—he was able to walk on coals, swallow molten tin, but the main event in his “program” was "the burial", during which the artist was buried for 30-40 minutes. Longo performed in Europe, Mongolia, and the Middle East. In 1970 he claimed to be over a hundred years old. In this portrait, the grey beard of the magician is composed of a dozen colourful reflections, and there is a rainbow arc around the collar of his robe, while the intense dark stripes of the background shade the face and eyes.