2014 “Other images from the city", National Center of aesthetics
Founder and Director of the Museum of the Contemporary Art
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, drastic changes took place in the history of our visual arts and in the culture in general.
They were so fulminate, that even with hindsight it is
difficult to give a full, objective explanation of what happened.
To cut a long story short, the changes eradicated the state-dictated idea of socialist realism. The influence of people undeservedly occupying
high positions such as professor, doctor, honored artist, laureate, academician etc came to an abrupt end without a "surgical intervention".
They were not forced to resign and the new generation didn't fight to replace them.
It all happened as a consequence of a natural process and the artistic field was purified by itself.
The basic principles of official art financed by the government eventually ceased to exist. Big names disappeared.
A few of the old generation's masters remained, although most of them were forgotten. Even our great maestro Yervand Kochar
was buried in an ordinary cemetery and not in Pantheon, an eternal home for remarkable people. Academician Alikhanyan suffered the same fate,
since authorities considered him a dissident. We were the only ones who remembered Karalyan, Jotto (Gevorg Gevorgyan), Sedrak Pashmajian,
Petros Konturajian, Alexander Bashbeuk - Melikyan, Arutyun Kalents, Bardukh and Aramike. From our generation, artists such as Vruyr,
Ashot Hovhannisyan, Martin Petrosian, Robert Elibekian, Henry Elibekian, Ruben Adalian, Gayane Khachaturian and Rudolf Khachatryan
who had been not welcome - got a green light. Their works survived thanks to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Almost all the representatives of the previous generation passed away: Paruyr Sevak, Parajanov, Vruyr, Minas, Ashot Hovhannisyan,
Musheg Galshoyan, Varos Shakhmuradian, Seyran Khatlamajian, Hrant Matevosian and Ashot Bayandur.
The last of our people to remain were Rudolph Khachatryan and Agasi Ayvazyan.
When the next generation of artists emerged, some of them took on the newly developing tendency of the so-called "fantastic realism",
a way that gave more or less tangible a profit. Others turned to primitive modernism. What can be more vulgar in art than
unrecognized provincial modernism? For this matter Kandinsky once noted that if a monkey is holding a book, it doesn't mean
it can read it. Only a small group of outstanding painters emerged from this new generation. One of them is Gagik Ghazanchyan.
Maestro Kochar frequently used a word "curiosite".This word could characterize works of artists who resort to outstanding ideas
and controversial topics with a touch of adventurism. Obviously, this type of art has also the right to exist if it lives its own
life and is devoid of imitation. Unfortunately, plagiarism flourishes today but for Gagik Ghazanchyan it doesn't exist.
He has found his own way which he follows slowly but surely, and there is an unquestionable progress in his work.
Everything can be perceived by comparison. Recently in France I curate a group exhibition of 35 Armenian artists living in
their homeland and abroad.Whether I showed the whole collection or just a part of it, Gagik's canvases assumed their own
place in the exposition in a very natural way.To explain this phenomenon, I would refer to the idea of a "reliable player".
In the sport terms, it means a player you can trust with your eyes closed. Gagik is a reliable player in our contemporary art.
His works carve a specific niche in many collections. His art doesn't narrate or strive for a literary effect,
but is peculiar, akin to those, who value art for itself. Neither sudden impulsiveness, nor stunning flights of fancy
can be observed in his art. He is a self-sufficient person, who has felt no need to surprise with outward effects and
innovative tricks. He follows his own route without hustle and bustle. I sympathize with those painters who didn't
abandon the country when given an opportunity. Faced with a chance to search for a better life, they stayed and
managed to create normal conditions for work in their homeland. Only a few exceptional Armenians managed to
establish themselves as artists abroad. As for Gagik Ghazanchian, there isn't a better place than Armenia.
In his recent works, more liberty and independence can be seen. They have become even fuller of sound. Unfortunately,
it is not uncommon for artists to envy one another. Gagik however is always sincerely happy for his colleagues'successes,
which speaks high of his inner qualities. More than two thousand people in contemporary Armenia are engaged in visual arts,
and hardly thirty of them deserve to be labeled genuine painters. Gagik Ghazanchian is definitely one of them.
2007 ”Art contemporained’Arménie” Orangeries Du Luxembourg Paris, France e
I have good friends whose canvases have not been displayed in the Museum, and I barely know some artists exhibited there.
The exhibitions reflect my genuine view and I don’t aspire to be the highest instance of absolute truth.
On the contrary, I would welcome people dissenting it and wishing to open a new gallery with works of artists I chose not to exhibit.
Currently, I am preparing the first part of a book on the history of the Contemporary Art Museum.
This is a history of our battle for its establishment. In the book, I am going to include artworks of a few painters fromour
generation who were not included in the collection of the Museum, mainly for space reasons. Recently, Akob Akobyan and his wife Mary
presented their best works to the museum. I believe it is a concept of existence and development of the Museum.
By the way, the Center Pompidou in Paris has been replenished in the same way.
Unfortunately, visual arts sadly do not rank high on our current government's agenda.
I attribute this policy to the lack of understanding. Otherwise we would have had a splendid museum building by now.
We are responsible for the establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Soviet Union and the satellite countries.
It survived like a bastion of our victory and independence. How come then that an independent country dotted with new avenues, fine hotels,
restaurants and a booming tourism industry doesn't have a decent building that would host the Museum of Contemporary Art
with its extensive collection of the best Armenian painters of every generation?
I wish we would live to that day.
2000 Artists’ Museum, Washington, DC (sponsored by Phillip Morris International)
"Prison to the Emperor, Wings to the Artist"
In Gagik Ghazanchyan's paintings the viewer is continuously confronted with a stereotypical structure of the canvas, and its constituent elements,
the background and the figure are in contrast with each other. The background represents a collage that has its origins in photography.
It embraces the elements of downtown districts of high-rise buildings often to be seen in contemporary American megalopolises that had come to
replace medieval cities. In contrast with the background, the third element evolving in the foreground is nothing else than a color composition
expressing motion which is sometimes semi-figurative and sometimes a completely abstract play of artistic creativity.
Is this stereotypical construction of the surface of the painting a reflection of artistic rigidity or does it refer to the stereotypical character of contemporary urbanism?
On the one hand, we have the standardization of our environment resulting from the assembly-line principle, which brings forth the material-objective aspects of things:
material, color, form and size. One the other hand, the artistic flexibility of the contemporary individual helps to counter-react against these transformations
that have created the imperative to transform one's whole life into a permanent performance. Multiplication of the secondary qualities of the hand-made
environment has reached a point that now it conceals the primary and functional aspects of the objects we produce. These material and formal transformations
leading towards dematerialization and production of signs,which Baudrilliard back in 1970s defined a tendency within the system of objects, have turned into
the signifies of the world order in our era of globalization. All contemporary movements, be social and political, cultural and technological,
unequivocally refer to this invisible and transparent order. But it is precisely the order which demands artistic virtuosity from all movements and gestures.
Without this skill it has become impossible to realize the permanent human striving towards freedom, such as the construction of signs of the new world order,
for instance the twin towers of the World Trade Center or the terrorist attack that brought them down on September 11, 2001.
Therefore, the artistic virtuosity is what describes Ghazanchyan's art. The brush strokes are applied to the panoramas of megalopolises,
thus partially destroying the image of the contemporary world based on materialistic values. Nevertheless, these cannot exist without each other,
the very same way as no brush stroke can do without the canvas. However, in this case the paradox which lies at the foundation of this manner,
not only has its origins in ontology, but also reflects the paradox between the artist's emotions and his global point of view.
On the one hand it is fed by the artist's belief in progress and its empowering potential, and on the other it reflects the disillusionment which he often feels
when confronted with its aftermaths. Gagik Ghazanchyan's manner is not only a carrier of the contradictions between his ideological positions and
emotional peregrinations, but it also opens up paths for its resolution. These are paths which contaminate the blurry outlines of love scenes with a boundless play
of color that the artist discovers through the intertwining or the illumination of the bodies. These drives, both erotic and mystical in their content, suggest two
vectors of motion: the horizontal one, which is embrace and assimilation with the sex partner, a living creature, magnetic tools or a two-wheel bicycle,
and the vertical one, which are transubstantiation and ascension. One of the protagonists of the ancient Greek mythology, constructor and architect Daedalus
who was also the first sculptor, is known to us for three works: the Minoan Labyrinth commissioned by the king of Crete, the wooden statute of the cow
for his wife Pasiphae to "alleviate" her sexual desire for a snow white bull from her husband's herd, inflamed in her by Poseidon as punishment.
His third work was the wings he created to realize his own striving towards freedom. The prison-palace is then for the King, the wooden love tool for his wife,
and the wings of freedom for the artist. These three forms in Gagik Ghazanchyan's art act not only as spatial and formal planes, but also as containing metaphors.
If the first the Labyrinth is a metaphor of today's world order, the second and third embody its opposite forces - love and freedom.
As a result of the unification of these three, an indeterminate artistic pulsation emerges. This plastic pulsation conveys information beyond the painting:
it is the artist's anxiety that one day he, having been granted with freedom, might face a personal tragedy of loosing his beloved Icarus.
It is precisely this pulsation that overcomes us when we are confronted with Ghazanchyan's paintings.
Is it possible that abstraction and figurativeness overlap? It would seem that Gagik Ghazanchyan marries the two and thus emphasizing the transitory status of the image.
Metamorphoses and effects of distortion in the same painting unfold in the course of the dialogue between the viewer and the painting.
The painter puts a special emphasis on the act of creating a canvas. He denies illustrative simplicity and trades it for illusory space.
There is no search for the new, but for the vitally important and the spiritually inspired.
He communicates his feelings and attitude to the environment through a specific technique which should be perceived as an element of his style
and not only as a random portrayal of emotions. Gagik does not strip his art to a bare visual experience but evokes a whole spectrum of emotional peregrinations.
Fragments of a city, figures of mighty animals, a multitude of points of view - all the images he uses reflect his mercurial temperament and volcanic potential.
The painter chooses deformed contours are a base of his paintings. They are subsequently turned into dense, dynamic compositions applied with a diversity of impressive techniques.
His works resemble walls covered with graffiti, a happy confluence of art, nature and culture. This tempestuous wind is manifested with tangible joy of handling colors
and creating shapes, and in an undifferentiated use of apparently incompatible stylistic means. We tend to compare and contrast paradoxical pairs: modernism and realism,
or abstraction and figurative art, and don't even consider a space where the world of art can no longer include the same components.
In the paintings of Gagik Ghazanchyan the idea of combining diverse influences occupies a vital position.
At the same time, he remains sensitive to tradition and his time, which constitute his understanding of pluralism in art.
Ghazanchyan's canvas invite the viewer to engage in and contribute to a fascinating adventure. This is indeed the art of metamorphoses and permanent change.
Nothing is set, everything is in flux, vibrates and twinkles, apart from a few solid details of the painting, clear lines or architectural forms that hold the composition together.
In these canvas, like in a dream, the realm of real and illusory images is diluted. The space is a kind of an experimental field which entices the viewer
with associate allusions and impressions to continuously revise mechanical perceptions and diagrams of ready-made thoughts, and where reality loses its uniform character.
In the paintings of Gagik Ghazanchyan one can feel a notorious lack of continuity typical for existence, secret symbolism, an unquestionable sense of humor
concealing an underlying touch of cynicism, irony and sometimes even a tragedy.
"The world as conqest and time as passion"
My first acquaintance with his art was more than ten years ago. He came across as self-contained and impetuous at the same time.
His artistic language seems to be comprehensible to me, as it belonged to the American tradition of the second half of 20. century.
He considers culture as a significant part of existence and pursuits his path amid the impulsive process of life motion with the inner resistance against immorality.
The moral space in his life is his world, his ideal and his servitude. With the desire of being free from traditional stereotypes,
he simultaneously finds commitment to the traditions and is ready to fight anyone who dares to encroach upon them. He is a warrior in both cases.
He is the warrior aware that the battle is essential not for victory or defeat, but for a strength test. As a true artist he has a huge advantage over superficial painters.
The depth of his emotional search gives him privilege to talk about the highest concepts concerning life.
The amplitude of this emotional search is impressive. It may piece together a pathetic gaze of a homeless puppy and a gloomily deep abyss in some odd megalopolis.
He suffers from himself, from his own world which throws him into the whirlwind of a troubling ripple. What is his message to us, his contemporaries?
And what is that he wants to tell the next generation of creators? Is it possible to outline a silhouette of this dialogue, if there is one?
These are not idle questions. These are basics for his code of honor and masculinity, his inner pride, his confidence and doubts at the same time.
He is passionate while restrained, laconic but expressive, trusting although prudent, impetuous though self-contained, philanthropic and skeptical at the same time.
This set of qualities establishes his keen perception and analysis of the world inside his artistic doubts.
The temperament and human willpower manifest themselves in the color qualities of the painter.
His perception of the contemporary world has developed far away from boundaries of mere national self-knowledge, in contrast to many timeserver painters longing to sell
and set their names in hardly established Armenian art market. He is able to distinctly define problems of nowadays existence, as a man of 21 century.
However, he can't remain indifferent to the emotional experiences in his home city. He belongs to this city and he can create poetry concerning the whole spectrum of its drama.
Painter Gagik Ghazanchian is a focused vector towards the culture of the future. I expect much from his search.
His potential as an artist allows a presumption that his destiny is a genuine way of suffering and deep deliberation, enlightenment and disillusionment.