|2000 - 2011|
|Abbas Daneshvari PHDProfessor at CSU - Los Angeles, March - 2010|
In 1841,Soren Kierkegaard, visited a gallery exhibit in which a large solid red canvas titled, ”Israelites crossing the Red Sea,”perplexed and confused him. He was impelled to ask the artist, ”Where are the Israelites” where is the ”Red Sea?” The artist’s response was simply: ”This is after the fact,the event already happened.”Later Kierkegaard, deeply moved by the artist’s remark,wrote in his Either,”My life’s achivement amounts to nothing at all-a mood a single color.”
One of the deeply moving aspects of Sarkissian’s art is his ability to reduce all things to moods and feelings.While he juxtaposes the figurative and the abstract,there is no doubt that at first glance the dominant and transformative force of Sarkissian’s paintings are his abstractions.In other words though the focal point of most of his paintings are images,the emotional and sensational shift to the abstract segments of his paintings remain decisive.Ironically,in this theatre of color and image,in some of his paintings the shift back to the figurative becomes an imperative.Thus the equilibrium shattered is once again reestasblished and restructured.An example is”Document#3”(See pg. 40),where in the audible abstraction leads us to the quiet text that has sealed fates and sanctioned acts.
His abstract elegies,” Chronicle,1914’’(See pg. 41),and “People from Ani”,(see pg.39),are an accumulation of sensory experiences.While the figurative in his paintings point to a singular space and time,the abstractions are fluid rivers of emotional abundance.Another example is “Twenty Pages”,(see pg.42),where in the opacity of the abstract leaves of paper is one of the best emotional documents ever recorded.It highlights the power of history,not in language but in moods and colors.In his “Horizontal Traces,”(see pg.38).the fluidity of a dissolving objective background is contrasted by the abstract ribbons whose clarity transform them into the tangible and the real. What a balancing act where eveything asserted is undermined and vice versa.These abstractions,at times euphoric and at other times turbulent and volcanic,have a Baroque temperament.They revolve the space and provide a dynamic that standa in contradistinction to the images.”Chronicle,1914,”which is referred to above,is perhaps my favorite painting.It manages with the few abstract lines to frame the image,and likewise the color field behind the mule’s head expresses a drama in lyrical terms.The uncertain rhythms of these lines provide the tragic frameworkof the imagery and the historical incident.These rough lines express chaos and yet, as did Polonius in Hamlet,”by indirections find directions out.”
Combinations or juxtapositions of the abstract and the figurative have been done before.However,they have not been acccomplished with such full-blooded grandiloquence.Almost always the real and its pure abstract emotion correlate,even though they are discordant in form but are in spiritual harmony.
The abstractions are the mood and colors of a life’s experience; they dominate while the images fade into the background.”People from Ani’’and “Renaissance Show Window” are perfect exampels of this lucid idea.In both of these paintings,as many others,a narrative is at play but the images which are the familiar and the known,lead almost operatically,to the unknown. .In all this the essence of the physical experience is not denied and rejected,but transcended through mood.The abstractions are complementary to the images and provide the emotional dimension of theworks.The images are the keys into these kingdoms.
What distinguishes Sarkissian from others is the seductive nature of his syntax,almost at times euphoric and at other times dark foreboding. Often in his paintings the world of man and its assumed orderliness is the spring to tragedy and misery.In contrast the chaos of the unknown is aredemptive and highly soothing phenomenon.For example the imagery in the “Letter from the Angel”,(see pg.38), ”Painting with an Angel”,(see pg.43),and “Document #3,”language and recognizable forms are laden with a sense of loss and wistfulness,while the colors reach beyond into the most transcendent and visionary of all spaces.These distinctly different worlds are paralleled by two distinctively different epochs as well.The zone for all the figurative forms is in the past and for the abstractions is contemporary.
These works are a mixture of old and new,abstract and objective,rationaly and emotions.They have an archaic and modern look at the same time.This particulare mixture creates a sense of history that is inextricably linked to unknowable nature of man and the world.Images that are incused in Sarkissian’s memory are often those of Armenia around 1914 and they implode with a poetic sense of pain,love and injustice.Again,for the skeptics nothing is new here.For as Faulkner said,we all tell the same story-but what matters is how we say it.And this is what matters in Sarkissian’s work.The language and syntax of his communications are unique and a mixture of many historical factors and emotional forces.
Thus in this painterly game,his sense of space is phenomenal.”Mind Game” of 2003(see pg. 40), is a masterpiece. The silent spaces help to gore what lies on their peripheries.The austerity and simplicity of the painting actualy makes for a far greater sense of complexity.The binary nature of all life and belief systems emerges succinctly.What appears at first to be dissonant and discordant after some scrutiny reads as smoothly as a sonnet.The elasticity of his forms move upward and give a new meaning and value to history and experience.
Abbas Daneshvari PHDProfessor at CSU Los Angeles, March 2010.
|J.A. Trumpower, Art Historian, Los Angeles, March - 2010|
I have heard it said that art is dead that history is dead, and that might well be the truth, that is until one has looked upon the breathtaking and captivating beauty generated by the artworks of Arthur Sarkissian. Because Sarkissian has had such a lengthy and prolific artistic career many things have already been said and written about his artworks, and I’m not one to be in conflict whit such emanate Los Angeles writers as Mr. Peter Frank, whom has said:
“The mediated photographic imagery Sarkissian appropriates, after all, is no less imbued with his passion than are his vigorous, often volcanic passages of the abstract brushwork. It is the passion of Sarkissian’s curiosity, his embrace of the world that prompts him to introduce photographic imagery into his paintings… We even see its textures and practices, as well as philosophical positions, reflected in the work of such disparate predecessors as Warhol, Cornell, Miro, Malevich, and, of course Picasso. Among other things, Sarkissian demonstrates that the “collage aesthetic” – the simultaneously disjunctive and conjunctive qualities that uniquely define modern composition – remains one of the most significant and enduring legacies of 20th century art.” -Peter Frank, Los Angeles, June 2006.
And because of this fact I then think that perhaps I have nothing new to add to the discussion surrounding the artworks of Mr. Sarkissian. But then I look “Between the Images” of antique furniture, columns, figures, books, advertisements, maps, etc, and then I see that perhaps there is allot more that is crying out to be said about these works of such captivating beauty. Such as, these images of the antique are in actuality not just windows into the past they are instead portals that can transport us the viewer into the future. In my opinion this is the case because Sarkissian’s images of the historic touch the past while his use of color that is laid “Between the Images” themselves, is the energy source that is used to propel us the viewer, into the future and into the unknown.
In many respects Sarkissian’s use of paint can be said to be inspired by Jackson Pollock’s “drip style” but instead of Pollock’s depressive and muted tones Sarkissian’s use of vivid color gives the viewer a breath taking vision of ocean waves that continually crash upon the shore, only to be washed back out, then in again, then out again, and then in again. In this way his artworks are not stale or tied to the past but instead are all about movement, even though his artistic shoreline is one that is littered with the artifacts of history. The point that I’m making here is that unlike the shards of history, which serve to weigh Sarkissian’s canvases down, his strategic use of color imbues them with the inherent power to propel themselves forward into the viewer’s consciousness.
As is clear to us all, the past is already known so the only thing left open to us is the future. And Sarkissian allows us to see a glimpse of that future with his amble and vivid use of color, which in its own way serves to signify thoughts of life, regeneration, and hope. In this way, the energy encapsulated within the swaths of color continually bursts forth upon the senses of the viewer in such a way as to carry them away from the staid boring past into the beautiful color-filled future of the unknown.
Concerning my observations about Mr. Sarkissian’s aesthetic, I hope that in some small way they serve to compel you the art lover to seek out his works in order to see for yourself weather my musing possess any merit. Which you can so easily do, by going to Artology 101 Gallery, 3108 Glendale Blvd. in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 27, from 6-10 PM for the opening reception of his new works Between The Images in order to see for yourself the effect his works have upon you. If I may extend a word of caution, remember to prepare yourself for a wild and thought provoking ride into the world of color, and if you are very, very fortunate, into the future of art.
|Peter Frank Los Angeles , June 2006 Painting Toward Synthesis: Arthur Sarkissian - text-Armenian.doc - 2006|
Among the many dialectics pervading the discourse of modern (and especially contemporary – or, if you would, post-modern) art, one of the most persistent is that between the authentic and the mediated. In this dialectic the purpose, the content, the message of art is defined either as real, direct, immediate experience (or the search therefore) or as received, modulated, socially and technically prefigured and predigested comprehension (or the analysis thereof). The argument between these two conditions of perception can seem to swing back and forth, favoring one and then the other. The abstract expressionists in 1950s New York and the neo-expressionists in 1980s Germany, for example, believed art manifested a firsthand account of life, and was to be as forcefully palpable as life itself, while the Pop artists of the 1960s and the appropriationists of the later `80s, both operating in several art centers at once, posited an art that reflected a world of acculturation and manipulation.
Even putting aside questions of interior and exterior critique, however, we can understand these movements, and others, as essays in an ongoing struggle to accept all experience as real and as mediated – that is, that the translation of experience into art is just that, translation, and that all communication, art or otherwise, depends upon the mediation of experience between communicator and recipient. Cognition, you might say, takes place at the mouth of Plato’s cave.
This is the message that underlies Arthur Sarkissian’s oeuvre. In Sarkissian’s paintings what-is-known meets what-is-felt within the bounds of the picture plane. What is “felt” – embodied in Sarkissian’s painterly gestures and rich coloration – maintains its integrity, and what is “known” – concretized in the images Sarkissian finds in mass media and transfers to the heart of his artworks – continues to evince its source in widely disseminated formats such as newspapers and books. But despite this obvious polarity, Sarkissian effects a remarkably easy and unstrained flow between the felt and the known, between raw brushstroke and transferred image. Each element becomes not just a foil, but a partner, for the other. A passage lifted (not literally, as in collage, but photographically, through silkscreen) from an art history textbook or illuminated manuscript or magazine still “reports” its information, but becomes at the same time a factor in a larger composition, enmeshed in painterly incident. Meanwhile, without losing the passion invested in it by Sarkissian’s hand, such painterly incident is ordered into a certain rational structure, one that echoes the lexical coherence that photographic imagery promulgates. Sarkissian’s paintings are at once wholes and sums of parts, and they “talk” to us in several visual languages at once.
Such a polyglot, polysemic art is hardly unique to Sarkissian. We see his style anticipated by Robert Rauschenberg, and before him Kurt Schwitters. We even see its textures and practices, as well as philosophical positions, reflected in the work of such disparate predecessors as Warhol, Cornell, Miro, Malevich, and, of course, Picasso. Among other things, Sarkissian demonstrates that the “collage aesthetic” – the simultaneously disjunctive and conjunctive qualities that uniquely define modern composition – remains one of 20th century art’s most significant and enduring legacies. Indeed, this collage aesthetic provides the perceptual crucible in which the dialectic described above is forged, and it defines the particular visual world in which Sarkissian finds his expression.
Above all, Sarkissian’s is an art of transition, a demonstration of the flow of human experience from the felt to the known, from the intuited to the studied, and back again. What is felt is itself important, and so is what is known – and we must note Sarkissian’s preoccupation with architectural structures, art-historical artifacts, and the visual record of various histories, in particular that of the Armenian people. From one vantage, Sarkissian’s oeuvre can certainly be seen as an examination of the relationship between his cultural heritages, Caucasian and European. It is not the particulars of this relationship, cultural or sociological, that provide the true substance of Sarkissian’s art, however, but its very nature as a relationship, that is, as a moment of transition. Does this ongoing “moment” take place in real time and space, across seas and centuries? Certainly. But more importantly, it takes place metaphysically in Sarkissian’s mind and heart, as well as in those of his fellow Armenians (and for that matter, Georgians, Azeris, and even Russians). Europe may give way to Asia in the Caucasus, but what Sarkissian paints is Europe and Asia giving way to one another in his soul.
The Caucasus has been a region of transition from time immemorial, its peoples subject to the passage of others through their realms, to subjection to foreign rule and foreign modes, to the destruction of cultural patrimony, and even to conflict among themselves. Conversely, however emotionally tied they may be to their rough patch of Eurasian soil, the Armenians have proven themselves adept at wandering, at integrating themselves into – and even making themselves indispensable to – foreign societies without losing their own identity. Transition is a given condition in Armenian consciousness, grasped even by those (like Sarkissian himself) who have never lived outside Armenia. For Armenians, transition is a stable condition, a dependably unceasing process of modulation. As the saying goes, the only constant is change.
The moods that play across Sarkissian’s paintings, with their variegated forms and mixed messages, can change as abruptly as the weather on the steppe. Just as he can transit from manual gesture to photographic document, his imagery can fluctuate in mood from lighthearted and sweet to grave and ominous, from fluid and beautiful to stark and coarse. The shifts between tonalities can be more dramatic than the tonalities themselves. This, again, is no inconsistency, nor even an expression of instability, but a manifestation of the condition(s) of change, a confounding of expectation, a sometimes-virtuosic display of different kinds – not just different levels – of passion. The mediated photographic imagery Sarkissian appropriates, after all, is no less imbued with his passion than are his vigorous, often volcanic passages of abstract brushwork. It is the passion of Sarkissian’s curiosity, his embrace of the world, that prompts him to introduce photographic imagery into his paintings. And, in turn, the abstract painting Sarkissian realizes as the basis of his style is no less reasoned than is his choice of photographs to silkscreen; as volatile as his painting method may seem, its spontaneity, while hardly self-conscious, is formally circumspect. The rightness of a particular passage, its apparent harmony with the rest of the painting, results from a process of consideration as measured as that which undergirds Sarkissian’s use of photo-images. Passionate as his works are, they result from a predetermination of image and gesture. Much rapid decision-making shapes Sarkissian’s tableaux, but blind reckoning and impulsive inclusion figure at best superficially into their making.
Many levels of dialectical opposition thus pertain in Sarkissian’s painting. How it is conceived and how it is fabricated, how it looks and how it “reads,” what it contains and what it means, who it speaks for and how it speaks for him and/or them – all these polarities and more determine the work’s compelling vitality. Elegant and raw, chaotic and lucid, expansive and deliberate, the art of Arthur Sarkissian does not so much resolve a universe of opposites as flourish in its balance.
Los Angeles , June 2006.
All Rights Reserved: Critics’ Forum, 2008
Tamar Sinanian holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art from Sothebys Institute in London. She is
|By Nazareth Karoyan - text armenian - 2000|
If the wall obstructs the eye, confining the scene, a picture hanging on the same wall provides a window for the observer. This abstract surface, like a window, opens to reveal the inner landscape that lies beyond. The pictures of Arthur Sarkissian examine the architectonic aspects of both wall and window. They appear to make allusion to spatial relationships. In fact, what is open or closed, emerging or indefinite, what is inside or outside the wall, is not, after all, a natural space, a landscape, or a distant perspective. These pictures enable the eye to glide, fix, and return to a point on the canvas, confirming the materialization of time. This materialized time is the artist’s target, as well as its structures—the present and the past.
|Vicki Hovhanessian - 2000|
|by Caroline Tufenkian - 2006|
As I got out of the taxi, I was greeted by the welcoming smile of Arthur Sarkissian. We walked through a tunnel which opened into a village with no paved streets. Following him up and down uneven pathways, then down stairs into his studio, I was overwhelmed by the number of paintings that were stacked up against each other. As each canvas was uncovered, the studio took on new life, filled with vibrant color, liberating dialogue, an atmosphere which took flight. As I looked around, I saw colorful brush stokes, paint applied by spatula, silk screened towns, churches, architectural details, letters written to loved ones, and photographs of families, village leaders, and home makers from generations past. All these images point to the past and bridge a gap between then and now, past and present: the family photograph from eighty years ago juxtaposed with the bright, vivid colors and metaphors of our present times. His process includes layers, silk screen, brush strokes, more color; all applied together until he feels satisfied with his creation. This process parallels the layers of generations, of times and cultures past. A world based on the past. Arthur’s works are very personal, yet very culturally and historically saturated. They are powerful, liberating; they present a joie de vivre. Each creation tells a personal and universal story. Allow yourself to explore and discover.
By Caroline Tufenkian
|by Katherine Hixon - 2003|
other Literatures coming soon
|By Peter Frank: Arthur Sarkissians paintings "talk" to us in several visual languages at once - 2010|
|Arthur Sarkissian's exhibition is a rare opportunity to view many of the famed artist's finest works at the 1927 Gallery in The Fine Arts Building in downtown Los Angeles. The opening reception will be held on March 11th from 5:30 to 9:00, in connection with the Downtown Art Walk. The exhibition will remain on display through April 2nd.
Sarkissian's works point to the past and bridge a gap between the then and now, the past and present. He juxtaposes old photographs, letters, and pictures with vivid colors and metaphors of our present times. His works are culturally and historically saturated. His process includes several layers of silkscreen, brush strokes, and spatula applied paint.
Peter Frank expressed in Sarkissian's 2006 catalogue: "Above all, Sarkissian's is an art of transition, a demonstration of the flow of human experience from the felt to the known, from the intuited to the studied, and back again. Sarkissian's paintings are at once wholes and sums of parts, and they "talk" to us in several visual languages at once."
Born in 1960 in Gyumri, Armenia, Arthur Sarkissian attended the School of Fine Arts in his native city, followed by the Armenian Pedagogical University (Drawing Department) in 1989. He lives and works in Yerevan, Armenia.
Sarkissian works in abstract art as a statement of post-soviet freedom of expression. His canvases combine painting and silkscreen printing, incorporating text, photographs, signs, architectural images and extracts from other paintings, fusing oil paint with found ephemera.
|Emancipating art from intellectualization - 2009|
A recent exhibition in Yerevan features cutting-edge works by three generations of artists YEREVAN Promoting “unadulterated artistic expression” was the goal of a recent monthlong exhibition at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCEA) in Yerevan.Curator Sonia Balassanian, founder and senior artistic director of the ACCEA, says she “invited artists to try to create art stemming from their very personal feelings and experiences, rather than following ‘common knowledge’ and socially accepted paradigms.”What resulted was “Undercurrent Shifts,” this year’s group exhibition of contemporary art at the ACCEA. Balassanian
|Press / Review|
|By Tert.am -Arthur Sarkissian Solo Exhibit Opens in LA Gallery - Link|
A solo exhibit of works by Gyumri-born, Armenian artist Arthur Sarkissian will be on display at Gallery 1927 in Los Angeles, California, from March 11 to April 1. The exhibit, curated by Caroline Tufenkian, launced with an early evening reception on March 11.