+374 99 12 80 82 Tuesday - 18 June 2024

Aren Shahnazaryan. If I’ll Wait for the Muse, Maybe She’ll not Come … I Must Stand and Draw …

I entered his art studio with already written questions without hesitating that Aren is a nice interlocutor and my questions would not be excessive. During the conversation I was following to his works put on left and right sides of the room, to lots of “Arens”, self-portraits which are often closer to real Aren than he himself. In the confusing space of his works I was trying to orientate but every time when I seemed to be close to drawing the borders of his creativity, it turned out that there is something between the works arranged close to each other which will again surprise and confuse someone, the books put on the bookshelf will again confirm that Aren every now and then reveals the phenomenon of the art greedily consuming every single letter and line without even thinking of what he does now may be worth being the part of everything.

In the transformation of the consciousness and subconsciousness he is concerned about the surprise of art, the problem of revealing his own abilities which can bring up different tricks of line and color, which could be cornerstones in for creating real “Arens” in visions of the future.


Aren Shahnazaryan, Self portrait

In spite of the fact that Aren stresses his aspirations of solving painting problems and every time presents unimportant and non-sense characters, gestures, even texts, I am sure that he is very thoughtful artist: even in his “non-sense” works the artist gifted with a profound observation is visible. At first sight direct lined or random brush hits are in real thought and reasoned not only point of view of solving painting problems. His reflections to the instability questions of being socially motivated or moved out, showing a little humanity or inhumanity, the borders of good and bad, true and wrong again confuse the viewer.

They are not specified, sometimes even unconscious, sometimes against his will. That’s why he tries to leave objective reality; he paints then regrets, writes, then deletes, rapidly transforms the images through painting manipulations due toe figurative and non-figurative tricks, seeking to discover their meanings and internal allegorical connections.

His canvases consist in brown, cheesy, sometimes good and sarcastic creations making laugh up to ears, announcing or denying something, they are not sterling humans; they do not have trait and individual features.

Aren-Shahnazaryan-002During this period he also releases the characters and events from authentic conditions. It is not important where it is, who they are or even why it is so. This type of questions makes Aren angry, there lies the viewer defect as Aren says. His works are for leisurely persons who do not have artistic feeling, and if the viewer has enough sense of humor it means that he is the ideal viewer who is needed. He is choosy artist, he hardly adapts to his works. Is somebody standing in front of his works, will say that there are lots of artist like him, and will pronounce the names of famous artists, it will only make Aren happy, as his aspirations are different, his problem is different, and his works are as deep as the artist himself: he clearly realizes that he does not exist yet, that he has the problem to be present in art sphere yet. In spite of this fact he puts his signature in every work, sometimes he puts it right in the centre of his creation as a text confirming his irrefutable presence.

Nevertheless I changed all my already-prepared questions as Arens’ direct and honest answers helped me to see the outlines oh his art more clearly.


First, who is Aren Shahnazaryan…?Aren-Shahnazaryan-003

Aren Shahnazaryan is me. I was born in Yerevan, my mother and fother come from Lori, so I am also from Lori. I have started scrawling from 2 years old, from the 4th class I started to study at art school N 183 at Master Karen Mktrchyan, then at Yerevan Academy of Fine Arts. I’ve participated to lots of “empty” exhibitions with lots of “empty” paintings.

You create, and what is the reason of it? Internal demand…?

 It is since my childhood may be. It is natural, internal demand, if you draw much it becomes a habit, like eating and drinking. You can not keep drawing, and may be some day it will worth stoping, but still there is some hope of having a result. I am able not to draw only for a little time, this is the internal demand. It is natural demand coming from inside of a man full of ideas, it is not philosophical demand, just a natural one.

And when is the time matured for you to stand before the canvas and start painting?

 Some people say that muse is coming, but if I wait for the muse, maybe it will not come, or it will be busy having some works to do (he is laughing…). Then they say that the appetite is under the teeth. That’s why sometimes I do not even want to draw, but I make myself to take the brush and draw. Sometimes I do not succeed. But it is normal. That matured moment that you should draw is not some special moment, anything can happen and it will always be a chain reaction, but it can also be that no chain reaction will happen. Sometimes you feel that today you want to go to the studio and draw, it is the very moment. But this also can be connected to some internal hormones, conditioned by lots of other things that I do not consider it muse.

Aren-Shahnazaryan-004However, everything happening for that direction in the brain, is natural state, you should stand up and draw. They say it is a a state of mind, yes, but in any case, it is natural thing, and it can happen at any moment. It can not have any specific explanation. For example, if they say that stand in front of the nature and feel the presence of the special moment, it means that the internal demands are activated when you stand in front of the nature. So, it is quite diverse. As for me, it is not connected to some specific thing or feeling. It is impossible for me not to desire drawing, sudennly there will be some special reason and I will want drawing. I do not think about it…Bacon said, ” For me everything starts from the first hit of the brush, if the first one was wrong, the rest will be the same and I should destroy that painitng. He wanted every hit of brush to be a black spot on the white wall to be visible immediately. But Bacon was professional, that’s why there was some period of time that he had destroyed all his paitnings and kept only a few ones, beacuse he had reached to it, he had passed the way.

I have not passed that way, yet, but one day I will have lot of things to destroy. You should destroy as much as it is necessary to succeed.

So it turns out that the final result of your work is not the one you have planned, or technically it was not possible to create the one you have desired.Aren-Shahnazaryan-005

All the works are so. I am able to create only a little part of what I desire. Often the reason is the luck of experience, sometimes of the funds. So the luck of the funds is the reason of the luck of experience. You want to put 10x 20 m canvas on the floor and draw. But you do not have both so large floor and canvas: after buying the canvas I start to do some small works for me not tobe idle. But during the time the problem is being solved. And after the final result, first of all I should be satisfied to finish it. But my satisfaction can last only 2 days. In 2 daws a look at the painting and I do not like it any more. And you feel that apart from the fact that you have not done what you had planned, you have also reached a level that you have regretted to delete. It is bad for me.

 Did you have effects from other artists?

 I had them from lots of artists, and I have them now, too…I can say that I do not exist yet. I am full of other artists. There are not any unique things. Only some few things can be mine on the painting, but if one looks at the painitng, he will immediately notice that there are lots of ‘’already done’’ things. If I will not adopt everything, I can not succeed. It will always worry me, because there are lots of things that I should take…There is not any painter who did not take something from the others. Everybody takes. One of the takes much, the other less, but all in all they take everything. If  a painter is deprived of  history, is showed nothing, he will not be able to paint like he used to. No famous artists would be able. It is not true that everyhing came from inside of someone…generally it is from inside, but the internal world was formed from under the influence of the external world. If only he is showed cave painting and in similar conditions it will affect him, and may be he will be able to do only what was done after learning that period. Of course you can not say definitely been in our times, but the fact that each artist’s work include everything from the others’ works is irrefutable.

This can be seen more clearly in philosophy. There are some philosophical dimensions that can not be bypassed. They are either against it, agree with it, but can not bypass them. Art is something similar to this. If you saw it, you can not get around anymore.

I’ve had lots of influences on what I’ve seen, I’ve been influenced, but now I am more affected from expressionist trends. It attracts me a lot. And mostly I like expressive lines of other artists . And especially neo expressionist direction is very familiar to me.

Aren-Shahnazaryan-006So this much of expressivness of your works are conditioned by that? Are there any other internal impulses for that?

 It is the man’s character. If I do not like to paint that way, I will not make myself do it. That’s why I say, I will not follow the idea, it is also conditioned by natural impulses. The fact is what a life the man has lived, what memories he has from the past, childhood and how to interpret this memories. Of course all this happen in diverse ways, but in my particular case it is true. It is very relative… The good and bad, strong and weak, expressive and much softer … I could live my life good or bad, I understand it this or that way, this is what I have become, I do not even realize it, sometimes I do not even remember.

When they say it is scary, it is bad, I do not understand … For me, it is good, kind. For one black is negative color, for the other one it is very good color. In the end it’s just a color. So many relative things. In every person it is expressed in different ways depending on his lifestyle and perceiving.

He expresses his feelings depending on the subconscious and conscious world and it is not important that it includes bad or good character. They say Rotkon had a difficult childhood, that’s why he painted that way. Yes, it is expressive, maybe also depressive. Processed say if I wanted depression inchu˚ will look Rotko. I shall behold an orange poster and hang it on the ground. Bacon said, “If I want to fall into depression why should I look at Rotko’s works: I will put an orange morsel on the floor and look at it.

I still do not fall into depression looking at Rotko’s pictures, and I do not think that is a result of difficult childhood, and that is the main problem. The problem is the perception of Rotko. May be if he had good childhood they would say that it was the reason of his way of paintings.Aren-Shahnazaryan-007 It is also possible that he had a good and he painted again the same way beacuse he did not liked his childhood. Why not? There are some people who are dissatisfied with their good life and are envious of others who have had more exciting life. It dependson the person, subjective thing, there is no sense to look for something objective, because there is no any. Even if there is one, then we can not perceive it as seeing, hearing or otherwise immediately becomes a subjective perception. Instinctive creature can never deal with the objective so that the objective form is in real, because the reality is as it is, no matter how it is precieved. It’s all the same to him how he will be reacted as different perceptive organs can be perceived quite differently. Our lives are totally dependent on our perception, and we can not say how much our perception matches to reality. The expressiveness of the paintings comes from the perception of forms. Each person perceives the level of expressiveness in his own way, and it is not necessary to say that the man negatively perceived the life and that is the reason why he paints that way. I do not want to think in that direction. If something is bad, it is as bad as it is considered to be. If they start considering it good, it will be good. If our society is now generally accepted that, for example, killing is bad, it is bad. The same goes for painting. People entering the exhibition of Munch, were saying they had never seen such kind of garbage, who allowed doing such a thing. Now they say the opposite, it has become the opposite, but the Munch paintings have not changed, nor had it worse, not better as now, they are the same Munch, in my own opinion, the most wonderful paintings.

There are often some texts, words on you works, that problems do they solve: compositional or ideological?

 They are only problems of painting. The ideological problems can be just written not painted. In written form it will be much more available to the people and more reasonable than drawing. If I have some ideological problems, it is in some internal way which can be transmitted on the picture through the hand. It is all the same for me if it will be transmitted or not, I do not feel bad or good for that, as for me, especially the text presents line and color. One can scrawl something like text; I often try to do so, but still can not leave that school. I was learnt to writing skilss in school. When I want to write, independently I do so. And when at the first class during studying the writing skilss I tried to write, I always scrawled so beautifully. Aren-Shahnazaryan-008It must be regained by time. May be it is not nececcary to eliminate the writing, at the same time both the line and the color can remain, its shape can be indispensable, but at this moment the main things are color and line. There are some people who want to read…What have you written, what does it mean? There are some texts that I think and write at the same time. For example I like grafiits of Jean Michael Baskia. He wrote such texs that could not be translated. Dedan was willing to withdraw that meaning of the word from his manifesto. I like that idea. The word has power, both sounding and dimensional; it is just associated with the subject in us, because the word has been created for subject, for understanding it. Kandinsky wanted to do the same with color. Release the color.  As the color was associated with object, Kandinsky desired the color to be just color. Picasso also used the texts, also in several pages. I like it, too. But I like them mostly in the painting called ‘‘Garnika’’, when in the center next to the horse body there is no text, there are only some little lines, but when you look at it from afar, it seems shrift is approaching, you want to read, but there is no text. I do not think he has done this intentionally, but I liked that deception very much. There is no idea, no text, but in any case he has solved the problem of color and line, and this is the most important thing in paitning. Howevere, it is not irrelevant now too.

Does Aren Shahnazaryan give something to Armenian art, or may be he will?

Now Aren Shahnzaryan has given a lot for Armenian art, which is to try doing nothing yet. Some people think that Armenian art accociates with Saryan and Minas, or a similar color field. Some think that Gorky is a part of Armenian art. If the painter is Armenian, or lived and worked in Armenia it does not mean that he is a part of Armenian art. If yes, it means that I am also a part of Armenian art for 1 persent. Yes I am Armenian, and it is all the same for me how famous my works will be in the future. Of course, I would like to be the part of some great things, but is someday I realize that painting was in vane, I will not do anything, because I must be selfish for continuing the work for my personal enjoyment. May be I will continue to paint but I will never think that I am a part of something. Aren-Shahnazaryan-001Either I will pay nothing, or I will scrawl something at the corner and will never show it to somebody. But now my painting does not give anything to Armenian art, or they give as much as people will think they do. I do not now who thinks so, and who does not. As for my own opinion, now my works have nothing new to give nor to Armenian art, nether to something else. My works which I have now aill help to gain something more in the future… Yet I think that I can.  I do not have this kind of psychological barrier or a tendency to selfconfidence and I will not vilify others for raising me. I will never say that my wors are good and nobody understands them. Yes, is is true that some great painters have told…Gogen was also saying that he was a good painter but nobody appreciated. He was right. Now if you ask, everybody will say that was the best, unique… May be it is so, as I do not understand, but there are lots of such persons especcialy among Armenian contemporaries. Among young generation I like the fact that they not continue painting if they do not succed. They put up with it. If I feel the same, I will put up with it, or not. If something like this happens to me, it is probably better not to know about it, it will be difficult for me. I am not going to to paint over the state, to praise and bind it to the people’s neck. Whom can you lie? I can not deceive myself. That is why it is always necessary to go against yourself both in and out of painting. Espeaccialy in the painting you should always fight against youself. Of course to the better. You can not be afraid of failing, deleting, confessing.

What problems does the creative youth has?

Aren-Shahnazaryan-010Specifically the artistic problems  are everywhere the same, this is a one whole mechanism. I don’t like it, when the specific area problems become definitely crucial for local art.

Time will pass away, so will the problems,  but the work of art is forever, respectively art cannot depend on time. In material terms, a beginner creative person has the same problems, as other people. For one, gasoline is expensive, for another paint… I don’t know… In any case, these material issues affect artistic stimulus. Perhaps even give rise to disappointment, but there is no need to give up for this…. need to draw…. On the other hand, how much should artist’s state be dire, that he hasn’t found at least one chalk to draw on any wall. They say, that in prison Eghishe Charents used the cartons of cigarette packs, in order to write. Of course it is desirable to have everything needed,  but having no material may not exclude the ability to create. And if there is something inside one, it must spill out. They say it is…. A pregnant woman can’t be forced not to give birth, if the time has come… Of course, it would be nice if the works of young artists were being bought, if there was a field of a specific direction. I’m Not saying that they must give money just like that, although many countries do just that. But our country is not able to provide the artist with everything he/she is needed and people choosing thi path should know what’s coming. If he/she leads to it understanding, so he/she is brave.

It’s not true, when they say I don’t have any possibilities. The ways to other countries are open too, just need want it and go ahead. There are good artists who can’t learn languages or can’t do another job, but in any case if one is ready to work from morning to night, even at the cost of a temporary pause in the artistic work and earn  money to get a good education or to provide him/herself with a good workshop, he/she can, there are so many opportunities in our country.

In the end there are countries which are in worse condition. One has money, but no talent to draw, one is opposite the other, and that is the fact. Many people give up and begin to do what is being sold. There are artists who have great potential, they are going themselves to defy strive forward, evolving, all the time have cycles and suddenly comes to a cycle where all sells and stops… and starts doing the same thing…. all the time… Maybe he/she wanted to do more, but didn’t. In this case this is some kind of a crime in relation to his art. Conversely, there are people who have gone against it all exactly reached heights. Just need to overcome this fear.I would like that especially in the field of painting they would choose a person and worked with him. Jean Michel Basquiat is ones found on the street. He was a poor young man, and lived by eating several slices of cheese.Aren-Shahnazaryan-009

But we have engaged in this business mostly satisfied with artists who has stoped in one period of their painting, and then they can complain about why their business is worth. In order to achieve something contribution is needed. Everybody wants in the finished form. That’s why, no one of our artist’s works is sold in million dollars and has a large cooperation. And if the artist has any connection, it’s his personal relationships. To make the exhibition abroad and are limited on it. I’ve often heard them saying this work had been sold, let’s draw once more. There are many other things, but I would prefer not to talk about them. Everyone sees and knows what’s going on, and if they not, it’s all the same to me. I’m just thankful that it all doesn’t enter my studio…

Do you follow  today’s cultural life in Armenia? And what negative or positive  sides do you notice?

I’ve Recently noticed some kind of activity. They give a studio to young artists. It’s very good, but I am sure that our Ministry of culture is capable of more. We just need to invest. Culture in its importance is like military forces. After all, many Nations would like to have a similar culture as ours. If one wants to destroy any nation, must start with culture. Culture is the face of the country and should be protected. A creative person can absolutely be out of cultural field as a businessman, it’s his choice, but our republic has a lot to do for this culture and for education this intellectual generation. I’m happy with many things but unsatisfied with many other things. In any case, it is impossible to completely politicize this field of activity, you just need to put some smart people in this field and everything will go forward on its tracks. We need to start with kindergartens and schools….

Translated from Armenian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *