a source on Armenian Art

Artists From Our Collection - APRESIK ALOYAN

HayasArt is not just a blog. It is serious about its commitment to Armenian Art. So serious in fact that we've been collecting it for fifteen years. Among the many quite exceptional artists in the collection, a number of names stand out, simply due to the lack of preconceptions associated with them. One of these is Apresik Aloyan - a name that is as evocative as it is unique and in perfect tandem with the creative personality that it adorns.

Outside a very narrow circle of art lovers, Aloyan's name says absolutely nothing. The artist has rarely exhibited, is not in any major museum collection and lives in almost complete isolation from the artistic circles. It would not be too misleading to describe Aloyan as latter-day hermit, except instead of a cave he has chosen an abandoned factory as his abode and art instead of prayers.

While Yerevan is the undisputed center of Armenian art, an interesting 'clique' of artists actively works in the nearby city of Ejmiatsin - the religious heart of the country - where Aloyan lives. A number of these artists have achieved prominence not only in Armenian art circles but also overseas. But the relative success of painters such as Albert Hakobian and Ayvaz Avoyan is not symptomatic of the general atmosphere of absolute ignorance shown to artists who have chose to live and work outside the artistic capital.

Aloyan's last solo exhibition took place in the now closed Ethnographic museum of Ejmiatsin in 2006. The touchingly bathetic display of awkwardly pasted sheets on paper upon which his tiny paintings were glued upon spoke volumes not only about the artist's dire circumstances but also his irreverent attitude to the reception of his work. This home-made 'exposition' reminded somewhat of a children's room where the walls are hung with the most sincere expressions of introspective thoughts, unhindered as they are by societal constraints, value systems and 'performativity'. The simplicity of artist's subject matter, the directness of his approach and the unclattered purity of his aesthetics has an immediate impact on the viewer, who is not invited to 'deconstruct' but merely to contemplate and indulge in the sweet blue haze that emanate from these works.

It would be ease to relagate these humble works to a merely derivative type of symbolist or expressionist painting, but Aloyan succedes in creating an iconography that attains a timlessness which, like in the works of other great 'outsiders' such as El Greco, De laTour, Pirosmani and Bajbeuk-Melikian functions only according to its own set of rules that are devoid of ties to any specific context and timeframe.

Aloyan's oeuvre consists mainly of imaginary portraits and figurative compositions that conjure up the most delicate, liminal sensations and moments inbetween 'active' thoughts. It is hard to assign any set of concrete emotional states to these wide eyed personages that are strangely familiar and yet disquietingly alien at the same time. The artist never gives the viewer the possibility to 'anchor' his images in any specific reality - he just lets them float in a fog of thin paint, like some kind of a mirage on the brink of dissapearance.

There are no formal or conceptual leaps in Aloyan's painting. He is neither concerned with innovation or commentaries of any sort. In his almost monochrome pallette, rigidly iconoclastic, classicist compositions he has found a voice that (indirectly) echoes many diverse traditions: the Dutch Golden Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, Roualt, Kotchar and even Rothko. Yet there is no attempt to emulate or reference anyone, but only to play a new variation of old themes. And what exactly are these themes?

Imbued with palpable mystery that is hauntingly indestructable, Aloyan's paintings are perhaps best read as 'materialised' dream images. It is a world which, much like the one created by Alexander Bajbeuk-Melikian, refutes logic, time and space and where there is merely the joy of being and of sensations, a world that artist desperately wants to escape to and seduces us to follow.

Vigen Galstyan. 2010