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SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
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A gallery’s sensual revelations on Armenian art
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BEIRUT: It seems this Christmas season is filled with collective exhibitions. An addition to the seasonal clutch opened Wednesday evening at the Beirut Souks, organized by the Arame Art Gallery. Entitled “Sensual Revelations,” this show displays more than 80 works by Armenian artists. Those familiar with the gallery’s tastes and tendencies may recognize some of the works featured from previous exhibitions, but several newcomers provide some welcome diversity.

Several oil-on-canvas works by Albert Hakobian demonstrate the artist’s mastery of abstract art. Blue, pink and yellow squares mingle, as though the viewer was looking at a patchwork or a modern piece of tapestry. Entitled “Invention” and “City,” Hakobian’s paintings capture the artist’s contemporary renderings of the environment surrounding him, fused with scenes from his imagination.

His “Northern City” though, lacks some depth and perspective. The canvas is more of less dominated by thick hues of orange, which create the impression of looking at a canvas that has been overloaded with paint. The scene represented is unobjectionable – depicting houses surrounded by nature – but Hakobian’s method of execution may not have been in its best interests. The juxtaposition of geometrical shapes, movements and colors may prove itself a visual burden for some viewers.

Armen Gevorgian’s art is quite unique. His “Revolution” captures 13 odd-looking characters, all holding lengths of rope or sticks, which they are using to prevent an immaculate egg – placed on top of a column at the center of the piece – from falling. The male and female characters’ body features are reminiscent of chess pieces as their legs form heavy columns, almost preventing them from moving. Some viewers may be repelled at first by his painting, but the more they look at it, the more likely they will begin to feel attracted to it.

Gabo, as artist Gabriel Manoukian is known, has four of his works exhibited in the venue. “Answer to the Letter,” “Balzac-aged Woman,” “The Flirty” and “A Few Hours Later” depict a sort of dismembered or distorted vision of humankind.

Gabo’s characters either have weirdly shaped fingers or their legs are impossibly stretched, as though made of elastic. What immediately attracts the attention of the onlooker is Gabo’s palette. Vivid hues of red, blue, purple, yellow and green form an enjoyable panorama, very different from what we usually see. His style bears some resemblance to certain works by Pablo Picasso, thanks to Gabo’s cubistic and disarticulated renderings of the human body.

The collective exhibition also includes seven small sculptures. Margarita Matulian’s “Conductor” plunges the viewer into a circus-like, almost fantastical realm. Her bronze work represents – as the title suggests – a conductor, but is in no way similar to what we imagine in connection to this figure.

A typical conductor might be perceived as someone quite imposing, with a perfect stature, maybe holding a baton in his hand. But here, we are facing an oddly-shaped creature, with two bronze lumps as breasts. Her hands are placed in a way that suggests she does not know what to do, and she wears a headdress similar to those worn by medieval jesters. Is this conductor the one that lurks in our imagination? Or a conductor supposed to trigger laughter? There is no certainty, but Matulian’s sculpture will certainly bring a smile to visitors’ faces.

Garnik Zouloumian (aka Carzou) seems to have honored French artist and printmaker Charles Sorlier, who was Marc Chagall’s collaborator in many of his works. Entitled “Ch. Sorlier,” Carzou’s lithography demonstrates a great attention to detail. The central subject of the piece is a woman who seems to be waiting for someone in front of a public park, while others – in the background – seem to be enjoying their leisure time.

Viewers looking for more classical artworks will appreciate the works of Jansem, Marat Margarian, Mher Mansurian and Ruben Abovian, among others in this comprehensive collection.

“Sensual Revelations” is now up in Beirut Souks until Christmas. For more information, please visit www.aramegallery.com.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 13, 2013, on page 16.
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