Arthur Hovhannisyan’s artworks

   Arthur Hovhannisyan’s art is so varied and comprehensive, that it’s impossible to observe it  only from one side. It is important to estimate the artist’s consistent and unconcealed leaning towards the heritage of the past, to pierce through the emotional nature of his artworks, to understand how the lyricism and dramatic expressiveness are individually harmonized in it. It should investigate Hovhannisyan’s most worthwhile paintings from different sides, as they present artist’s great talent and competence and in which his preferences are disclosed.

   Hovhannisyan’s painterly artwork is marked by various genres: portrait, landscape, thematic composition, where the human figure occupies an important place. The artist represents different characters, feelings, revealing the inner world of his personages, as well as he expands pursues themes, finding life atmosphere, human types, which close to his predilections and method of painting better suited to his personal agenda. He explores their individual identity, and the various means for its construction. All these are in tune with the individual character of Arthur Hovhannisyan, who seek to convey truth and beauty through everyday life, reflecting his own take on modern life and the social environment around him, (“In the market”, “Cafe” 2012, “Barbers” 2013, “A walk” 2014, “Fans”, “Stream” 2016), which imposes its themes upon his paintings.

   The images of religious themes and architectural landscapes are distinguished by a unique interpretation (“Christ and Peter”, “Gregory the Illuminator”, 2005, “Marriage” 2007, “Last Supper”, “Messa” 2015 ). They are characterized by monumentality, harmonies of form and balance, accuracy and distinctness in drawing and in color handling. They are spatial measured compositions with their dimensional compositional characteristics,with an emphasized aspiration directed upwards  (“Cathedral. Barcelona”, “The church. Vienna” 2016). In this regard, Hovannisyan’s series “New York impressions” (2020) stands out, which presents the rising world of New York, far from the crowded nature of American life. Calm and confidently rising to the sky verticals seem to be lost in spacelessness and timelessness.

   Examining Arthur Hovhannisyan’s artworks one can step by step reveal certain interesting regularities: 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.

   Arthur Hovhannisyan reflects various emotional experiences, thoughts, the embodiment of which is usually realized through the characters of women. These 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 spectrums colored in lines which are out of time. His painted women usually turn into symbols, behind the visible matter develops an inner, deeper and hidden sense. It seems that the artist creates the images and aspire to keep their profound silence. He demonstrates his fascination with painting the same subject over and over again, each time in different postures, gestures, and positioning in space.

   As if the same gentle and doleful personage with its lyrical mood, is multiplied in paintings, becoming part of a group and abide by similiar mystery and daydream. The female characters created by Arthur Hovhannisyan in various interpretations are communicated to the viewer through red, blue, green and brown colors ( “Dance” (3 variants) 2010, “Awakening”, ” Dance of spring” 2011, “Solo dance” 2014, “Heavenly dance” 2015). The scenes explore a group of females join hands and who appear to be involved in dance through a unity of sensation. These paintings accentuate the sensuality and womanhood. All of which provide us with some context in terms of what is going on in the painting. Splendidly and voluptuously formed, the artist celebrates dance over and over again as a medium of love, message and creation of life into « Heavenly dance ». It is the pursuit of something that he expressed artistically through the feminine form. Or perhaps it is the notion that the ultimate way to represent Art, the Soul, and other ideals is through the beauty of Woman.                                                              

   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. As national, pensive, felicitous description of harmonious rhythm in paintings “Dance”, “National dance” (2009), “Berd: Armenian national dance” (2010). 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. The dramatic shape in the image together with the mystic silence spreads deep sadness on the personages. 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.

   Color is the essential impulse of the painter’s works, colors create controversy and debates, otherwise, the characters will not 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 artist usually goes back to the same topic, making clear its emotional structure and harmony and presenting several times in various renderings (“Chorus” 2004, 2012, “Music” 2008, “Concert” 2012, “Back-vocal”, “Memory” 2015, “Duet”, “Requiem” 2016).

   Life is a reality, a place, an environment in which an artist lives, time, people, personal and social relationships in accordance with their requirements. Hovhannisyan’s «In Metro» series, which was launched in 2013, is distinguished by its originality. This is a modeled world in the mind of the artist, in which images of people are presented as manifestations of a multidimensional essence. Changed feelings, daytime aspirations, memories, loved ones and meetings that took place, and maybe, which he dreamed of. This is the world of human existence, constantly expanding, recreated and rethought in social space and time. The feeling and look with which the artist relates to reality, people and time. And in the images of the mentioned series, the present moment seems to be the only unit of time. Hovhannisyan has presented “here” and “now”, actions and feelings taking place at the moment.

   A remarkable series created by the artist depicting decorative bus forms, solved by the simplicity of painting in yellow-brown, blue-green tones (2018-2020). The urban landscapes created by the artist in 2021, which stand out for their constructiveness, are completed with impressive combinations of rectangular volumes and the harmony of graphic lines. (“Winter” N 1, 2021, “Opening view”, 2021).

   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.

Shushanik Zohrabyan

Art historian, Ph.D. in History of Arts. Paris. France