I create in my works anthropomorphic figures or characters, something that can be filled with feelings, reason, and meanings. I mostly work with oil, because I feel it is a very philosophical material, which is most suitable to display the human essence.
Where did your journey as an artist begin?
I started drawing in my early childhood. I often created fictional characters and made up stories about them. My school notebooks were all painted on the back with images of various creatures. Even mathematics was easier for me to understand if I personified its abstract concepts through concrete personalities. That’s how my thinking worked.
I always knew then that my work would be connected with artistic creativity. At the age of 10, I went to study at an art studio, and after I entered the Faculty of Culture and Arts. But my environment teased me that I could only be an art teacher and such a profession would lead to poverty throughout my life, etc. Then I gave up, and the next year I passed the exams at an architectural university because being an architect is a profitable job. But in my heart, I remained an artist who gravitates towards the study of human nature through images. After the engineering classes, I came to the art class and drew there for hours, often staying all night. The university staff already knew, that I was obsessed with drawing and I cannot be kicked out from behind the easel, so they did keep me. And for me, drawing was the air that I breathed!
The university staff already knew, that I was obsessed with drawing and I cannot be kicked out from behind the easel, so they did keep me. And for me, drawing was the air that I breathed!
How did traveling affect your creativity. What inspired and what images or feelings filled your works?
After receiving an architect’s diploma, I realized I lacked knowledge about the human being, the inner world I wanted to portray, and what drives a person and what shapes him. I draw shapes, but each shape is a whole material text – why does a person have such a look, facial expression, posture, and physique, how did a person become like that, what is the magic of his personality?
To find answers to these questions, I went to study at the Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies. At the same time, I worked as an interior designer – philosophy nourished my soul, but my body also wanted to eat. The load then was simply crazy! But I was very happy to study.
After graduating from the University, I realized that life cannot be read from books, it can only be lived and passed through oneself. If I wanted to learn more about people, I had to go among them. That’s how I became a member of ethnographic expeditions. I was lucky to travel a lot on non-tourist routes, I saw the real life of people in different regions of India, Nepal, Mongolia, Cambodia, and many other countries. Also, until 2014, I visited Karelia, Tuva, and Buryatia as part of expeditions.
Before moving to Armenia, you traveled a lot. Why did you choose this particular country?
Among our research team were two people from Armenia – a director and an ideological inspirer. And then we decided with the whole team that we would be based in Yerevan as part of our projects. In 2012 it was an inexpensive city to live in, from which it was convenient to fly to any point in Asia. Our research was mainly aimed at peoples of Asia who have not yet succumbed to globalization and have retained their authenticity in clothing, lifestyle, and rituals.
When the Maidan began, I was in Nepal at that time. Two weeks later I returned to Yerevan and flew to Kyiv. I couldn’t stay away! I walked along the Maidan with a blue and yellow flag with the inscription “Donetsk” on it.
At the beginning of 2014, I had to return to Yerevan because other ethnographic projects had already been planned and agreed upon. I was supposed to be part of the team by the end of the year.
And then… And then Russian armed groups and militarized gangs entered Donetsk, many of my friends and acquaintances were forced to run with only one bag because they were “on the lists.” And some ended up “in the basement”. Some have gone missing… In short, after 2014 I had nowhere to go back.
How was the integration in the new place? What did you start doing as a creative person?
I decided to stay in Armenia for the time being, got a job as an interior designer and painted walls, started creating costumes for various shows.
At the same time, I went on an expedition a couple of times a year, because I already had experience and hardening, so I could combine the functions of a cameraman, a journalist, a photographer, and a researcher of everyday life and religious beliefs. I took with my pens, felt-tip pens, oil pastels, and I made sketches there, which I immediately gave to people who were models for me. You would have seen how happy those people were with those portraits! Nobody has drawn them yet! And inside me flowed the experience of contact with the lives of people of another culture, contact with their souls through the picture.
Sometimes I could buy a small canvas and a set of small oil paints on the market and paint the images that particularly touched me, already more professionally. I brought them some later with me. In 2015, I took part in a group exhibition of portrait painters in Yerevan and exhibited three portraits that I painted in India. They noticed me, and from that time I began to receive commissions for individual portraits.
What is your current main creative direction? What is your art about?
Now I continue to explore the inner world of a person because this topic is inexhaustible. I strive to reach that level of artistry when one can read on canvas without words: “Human, you have no limitations inside, don’t be afraid of anything! You do not know your depth, go forward, explore yourself and the world, do not stop!”
I experiment with techniques and materials, master bigger formats, learn new things through communication, and exchange thoughts and ideas in our community of artists. My art is about attentiveness to existence, about empathy, about the ability to listen and hear. If a person has mastered the art of listening to his soul, then the whole world becomes his teacher and friend, and other images become mirrors in which a person sees the reflection of his being, his fears, desires, and hopes. Perceiving oneself and others as part of oneself as an element of the world in all its unity, we begin to see this life with clear eyes, to understand that we are the carriers of what our life consists of. This creates a greater level of responsibility, a higher level of consciousness, and attentiveness, and life automatically becomes more interesting!
Did the creativity change after news of a full-scale invasion?
With the start of the full-scale invasion, I just broke down. And although I was not directly in the combat zone, the war hit me very painfully in the heart. I somehow thought that I was emotionally strong and stress-resistant, but in reality, I could not cope with this blackness. All life energy disappeared somewhere in one moment, and my hands fell.
Until February 24, I was engaged in exclusive artificial clothing and hats, and even had a small store, but after the start of the big war I could not create anything, war and glamor are incompatible, and rhinestones are not sewn on uniforms. For the whole of March 2022, I can only draw war.
About three months later, I pulled myself together, sold most of my products, and donated to our army and those volunteers I knew personally.
Already in the summer, I forced myself to pick up brushes and start drawing something not about the war, but it didn’t work out, I painted some kind of pop art, not at all interesting. You cannot be creative or happy by force. Only in autumn, interesting ideas and images began to pop into my head again, but my attention is still scattered, part of it is now in Ukraine.
What would you advise artists who are starting their career?
A sincere, deep, and timely idea gives life force, and opens the door to some existential dimension, where there is a boundless sea of creative energy and where you can stay art alive! Not to copy ourselves, not to parasitize on a successful idea or image, because this is stagnation, it is already past, but to create, search, and explore. This way you will keep a fresh mind, always have the inspiration to work like crazy, recover quickly and remain a whole and harmonious person.
There is a type of happiness that does not depend on anyone, not on other people’s opinions and assessments, or on other views and preferences. This is the true happiness of independence, which gives us a kind of spiritual energy. Often, artists, when they paint, are already poisoned by thoughts about how this work will be evaluated. And this does not give the feeling of freedom, it does not allow the work to incarnate as a living being, with its right to its existence, without the cry of our ego or the thirst for profit. But when you create emotionally naked as if you just let the electric current of pure creativity pass through you, then you have a mystical power of a free person, and this is a superpower!