Arthur Hovhannisyan’s Art
The artwork as a substance and shape is an expression of some posture therefore it should be observed and arranged according to the conditions that give birth to it. And the latters in their turn are the consequences (implications) of individual and reality. This is the case that makes it necessary to observe the art as an interrelation of the artist with the lived reality.
Arthur Hovhannisyan’s art is so polyhedral and comprehensive, that it’s impossible to observe it only from one side. It’s important to value the artist’s stable and not disguised inclination towards the heritage of the past, to pierce through the emotional nature of the artist’s creation, to understand how the lyricism and dramatic expressiveness are individually correlated in it. Hovhannisyan’s most significant creations should be observed from different positions, because the artist’s talent and competence are gathered in them, in which his preferences are disclosed.
Arthur Hovhannisyan reflects various emotional experiences, thoughts, the embodiment of which are usually realized through the characters of women. That characters bewitch by their sensitivity expressed by slightly bent heads, slender outline of waist lines, smooth and unhurried movements, which once commenced, stock- still in time. For the painter the person’s pose, the head movement have programmatic meaning, becoming the peculiar plastic equivalent of concept and emotional state. The imaginary scenes created by Hovhannisyan expand in special time and spatial register as if being eternal characters or spectors coloured in lines which are out of time. His painted women usually turn into symbols, behind the visible matter develops an inner, dipper and hidden sense. The artistic form, century, to which the painter has directed his steps, have become symbols. The heritage of the past becomes more significant, when it acts as living and sustainable heritage and in which the cordiality towards the painter’s art is clearly outlined. Like any system of great vitality, the language of his painting has its traits of heredity, changeability, stability and mobility, by which it plays the communicative role. The strength of the artist is in the strong succession of traditions and it is the logical continuation of considerable cooperation, the right of being there has the one who brings his own word, vivid and original. That connection in Hovhannisyan’s creations is expressed in uppermost way as creative thinking, world outlook, inner world, display and representation of individuality. Such peculiarities of principle are more noticeable in «Spring dance» and «Play- awakening» works created in 2011. Arthur collects connotative comparisons from the absolute musical origin and combines with his already formed creative thinking. These are the seekings which open new ways full of possibilities and create new signs by expressing in the paintings the concerns and strivings, that fill his soul.
The peculiarities born from the national character are vividly seen in the sensuous depths of Arthur Hovhannisyan’s works, in the inner layers of concepts and contents. In the painting “Dance” softly outlined female figures suggest the national, pensive, felicitous description of harmonious rhythm. The gradual progression of the torsions and lines of their bodies convey perfect musical sonority to the emotional frame of the painting. The volumes seem to vibrate in the colors of the canvas, in the space between the spectator and the painting, between two-dimensional and three-dimensional spaces. Color is the essential impulse of the painter’s works, colors create controversy and debates, otherwise, the characters won’t suggest dialogues. A color stain contains the value of physical existence, the stroke of the brush serves for creating the volumes and revealing the pictorial contents. The dramatic shape in the image together with the mystic silence spreads deep sadness on the women. There are no crying feelings and thrilling tales here, everything is happening inwards, in a low voice, in the depth of the image, on clean and clear lines. The drama is not showy; it is somehow secret, discreet, as a smooth song.
The female characters created by Arthur Hovhannisyan in numerous variants and minor changes are shown to the spectators through red, blue, green and brown colors. The artist usually goes back to the same topic making clear its emotional structure and harmony. The same story is repeated in different and extra particularities, interpersonal emotion.
The story of the soul, the experiences of its existence are expressed on all conveys, or the contrary, one painting presents the integrity of actions happening separately.
Shushan Zohrabyan, art-critic
The Art of Arthur Hovhannisyan
In the contemporary Armenian art, in the conditions of the presence of creative individuals and diversity of styles, many of the artists creating in modern reality either follow the artistic skills of painting strucuting trends, that have entered the history, or place reliance in both technical and aesthetic principles of art directions of different epochs, combining with their personal painting abilities. Or some combine their artistic perception with the ultramodern directions.
In nowadays artistic reality, that is rich in various manifestations, Arthur Hovhannisyan’s art, that is distinguished by its inborn strong artistic abilities and integrity of creative character, due to his artistic ways of expressions and variety of compositional solutions, reflects his own personal style, which by its stylistic peculiarity fully differs from artistic styles of other modern artists, having its special place in the complex arena of modern Armenian painting.
In the artworks of his early period there are artistic skills, that are linked to the general principles of a number of modernist streams of the beginning of the 20th century: the flatness, clean, intensive bright colors, expressiveness, which during the artist’s creative activity were not experimental searches, but for a long time have become the integral part of his painting structuring, contributing to the expressiveness, attractiveness or uncommonness of this or that painting.
Regardless of the content and narrative structure in the artworks of this period (“Porter”2003, “She and Me”2004, “Lovers” 2005, etc.), which were developed by different manifestations, expressiveness is considered to be dominant on all other artistic basis, highlighting the inner essence, that is the inner spiritual side of reality.
The motionless figures, that are vitally true, and at the same time distinguished by their unusual accuracy, freshness and clarity of eyesight, (“She and Me” 2004, «Yellow fish» 2007, «Trees» 2008) subordinate the clearly expressed compositional rhythm. And in this respect they are fully considered to be expressionistic artworks, where the painter’s sensory feelings passed to the canvas are important.
This image structuring metamorphosis, which means the shift from the reproduction of the objective perception of reality to the portrayal of the subjective perception of reality goes back to the last academic years of his creative activities («Two Models», «The Sleeping Model»), when the process of creating images full of power of individual perception came to replace the academic realistic painting.
In the artworks of early period, which are devoid of blind consistency and are the expressions of creative fantasy, («Landscape» 2003, «The Butcher» 2004) he managed to find appropriate artistic expression full of unique inner sight, where always exists the power of expressiveness. The portraits of early period (“Two Models”, “The Woman and the Man”), which are not far from naturalistic particularizing, sharply and clearly show the general characteristic of the painted persons.
Psychological atmosphere, artistic solutions, typical characterizations, interesting dimensional approaches fully discover the plot of the artist’s paintings, («Landscape» 2003, «Chorus» 2004, «Christ and Peter» 2005, «Girl and Scales»), and his ability to transfer the concept into a visible image, convey great attraction to his paintings and make the watcher focus his attention on the style, which reflects the artist’s perception of world around us.
The painter’s art is attractive also by the fact, that we can find plots, which have rarely found their expression in the history of world art. Particularly «The Chorus» 2004 painting, in which the chorus members are distinguished by their grotesqueness, unnatural expression of forms, anusual coloring created by the combination of black and brown. They are selfless and absorbed in their song, as if more fixing their attention on the watcher, than getting absorbed in their individual performance. The theme of chorus, becoming so close to painter’s heart, has been also reflected in his «Chorus» triptych.
In some artworks (“Porter” 2003, «Street Vendor» 2004, “Lovers” 2005), which are distinguished by concrete limit on space, people are painted as they really are, and not the way we see in the layer of external reality.
In this regard these artworks, which are remarkable for their coloring, that causes dissonance, deformation and dramatism, have common things with our reality and are quite topical by their inner content and social meaning. Judging by the painter’s artworks, it becomes clear, that he is inspired by human life, manifestation of everyday activities of ordinary people (“Beauty Salon” 2007, “Dentist’s shop” 2007 ՙ, “Street Vendor” 2004 , “Fruit seller” 2011) and from there he has found the plots for his creations. His art based on combination of reality and imagination, usually reflects his liking towards everyday life.
In many paintings convincingness is based on human figures, that from the first sight seem to be flat, but actually have dimention and materialization, on subjective pure chromatic combinations, on the figures’ movements, that are the cause of psychological situation and on their harmonious relations, and all these inadvertently create post narrative developement in the watcher’s imagination. As if they form the axis of the narrative-content structure of the particular creation. But one detail from the first sight seems to hinder the creation of the reproduced convincing illusion. That is the figures’ facial expression, which as if does not correspond to the adequate expression of appropriate reaction to the particular situation, and that expression was to be on the faces of truly imagined characters. Although even this approach does not impede the general tact of image perception and this can be considered as one of the skills, that is the inseparable part of his art, which is applied in many images and which is one of his principal artistic solutions of image creation. Some artworks («Metro» series 2013 and so on) show that the painter is a very delicate observer of life.
Started approximately from 2010 essential changes have happened in Arthur’s art and expressionistic thinking has transferred into completely different worldview. Many of his works present the combination of purely beautiful women figures with sometimes conventional background of landscape (“Awakening” 2011) and sometimes without any background, where lasts the endless space (“Water Game” 2012). In these artworks the painter tries to reach complete harmony, where any motion loses its dynamic characterization, becoming the most important particle of strongly balanced composition. In this paintings, that are full of allegorical figures (“Awakening” 2011, “Dance of Spring” 2011), and arouse associations connected with classical art, there is an aspiration to make the perception of imaginary image, full of ideal calmness, more poetic, where at the same time exists the integrity of impression, based on form, color, expressiveness and general mood, that is transmitted from the painting to the watcher.
For example, in the painting «Dance of spring» 2011, which though is considered to be created by pictorial means, impresses the watcher like music: line and color instead of harmony of sounds, serve as musical intervals, creating harmonious atmosphere. Symbolism of idea, rhythm of composition, the minimal number of acting figures come to complement the thought, that he is quite subjective both in his reproductive ability and personification of ideas, which is complete from the perspective of image base.
In the two paintings «Starry night» 2010 the main issue was not just to paint landscape motive, but to create one concrete unite gamut, full of colors, where the painter’s wish to make the seemingly boring landscape more interesting, motivated him to include two portraits, which are the result of his skills, more precisely two silhouettes, intermixed with plants. Many of his images are distinguished not only by their virtuoso elegance and refinement of coloring, but also are structured by the combination of few, that is from one to three dark and warm tones.
The attractiveness of the painter’s works contributes to own inner concentration of the watcher and allows to feel clear visual sensations filled with positive pleasant emotions.
The role of the color for the painter is the one of the main factors of discovering the content of landscapes in his paintings (Trees 2008, Landscape 2008, Starry night 2010) and it is the main key of conveying the concrete mood of nature in landscapes.
The plots of contemporary reality combined with elements of classic art like classicistic dresses, the existence of Renaissance portraits (“Fruitseller”2011, “Music” 2012, “In the market” 2012) which follow one another are also inseparable part of his painting structure and they remind of the handwriting of the painter.
The emotional expressive role of color, which played an important role in the works of early period loses its function in the works of late period. For example in the painting “Dance of Spring” 2011 giving mystic statism to his characters, the painter tries to stop the time and wants to fix the pleasure of the moment, but the moment is not that much connected with the solution of artistic issues, but with the expression of the inner world of the characters, which gives the watcher permanent calmness.
As here, as well as in a number of other images, as if wishing to get the full visual perception and the effect of a single narrative, content-based structure, the artist almost always examines the first plan excluding the multi plans of the image.
Although in his “Venetian Memories” (2010) series real city scenes were the basis for the creation of images, in the artist’s perception way, in the episodes, born from his inner ideas, reality was only the reproduction of the image expressions of the inner essence of the particular scene, in which, the automatically changing moods have caused proportional deviations of architectural structures, almost abstraction converted scenes, combinations of clean colors and color stains.
The artist’s latest single facture series of paintings Metro (2013) reflects everyday life, not the external, superficial character, not a conventional truth, but the truth, that overcomes the obstacles and the material terms, that creates true images, where trying to open everyday life, living opposite side, touches on such topics as the protection of human life or human loneliness problems. That means to reflect the true life that is hidden, the seeming reality of material world, and the painter succeeded.
The primary goal of the artistic language of the series of paintings is to express the idea, where the form is born not from the imitation of nature, but the embodiment of the idea, that is to say from the transformation, the process of creation of which indeed demanded from the painter artistic quests and the perfection of his own artistic language, which becomes obvious, when we watch the evolution of Arthur Hovhannisyan’s art.
Painter’s art is already a hint, that he feels the need for new motifs and pictorial language quests, many interesting individual aspirations, which are associated with the formation of their own style and are constantly leading to realize the beauty and to convey it to the viewer, a process, that lies in the ability to put all that into the plot and idea, that the artist wants to express in his creative activities along the way.
Art-critic Ashot Araqelyan