Perhaps what draws us to the arts is our ability to relate to them and to experience the raw emotions of their creator. Serop Khatchadourian is not only on his way to mastering the canvas, but also on route to capturing the hearts of those who view his work.
After a 10 year hiatus, a shocking departure from painting, Khatchadourian brings us his self-biography, told through a 30-piece series of paintings and sketches.
“The Potorig”, the title of the portfolio exhibition, is the Armenian word for tornado. Indeed, his work is a storm of sentiment, a reflection of the highs and lows of his experiences.
Held in the AYPtoZED Art Academy in Antelias from February 23 to February 27, the exhibition was the first of its kind for the artist, who currently studies at the academy.
His master’s degree in Visual Communication from the Lebanese University is paired with a hereditary predisposition for art. In fact, one of the paintings, a still life of an apple, a vase, an Arabic coffee cup, and a paintbrush, was done by his mother in 2015.
“That’s when I realized: ‘Oh, I’m not special’,” Khatchadourian lightheartedly told Outlook, trying to pinpoint where his talents come from.
His volatile, experimental work takes the viewer on a distorted timeline of his life, as many of the pieces were started simultaneously, affecting each other as they were developed and perfected.
There’s the epitome of his joy portrayed in “Prevail,” which, through its magnificent use of colors and lighting, allows the viewer to understand the artist’s conquering of pain and triumphant return to painting after 10 years. “Transparency” similarly uses color through portraying a grey man with a small, misplaced bright heart to send a message.
What could be considered his masterpiece, “Paradox”, is a painting of four inverted faces, as well as the artist’s own face in the center, half man, half-skull against a rich purple background.
The haunting faces, colors systematically fading, and distortion, are the face of an old lover of Khatchadourian, someone he could never before put into his work. Paradox is a phenomenal lesson learned: the mind eats away at memories, distorting them and your thoughts regarding love and who someone is to you. No matter how you turn the painting, it will always be right and wrong at the same time.
Perhaps Paradox is a summation of the entire exhibition, the interplay of the artist’s past, present, and future.
Interestingly, one of the paintings was drawn in two 20-minute sittings, right before the opening of the exhibition. Khatchadourian painted his father, who had dozed off, and decided to put it in the exhibition.
“The exhibition rose out of pure belief,” said Khatchadourian, who is hoping to pursue a doctorate’s degree in Fine Arts in the Berlin University of the Arts.
A personal favorite was a two-part piece called “Bound.” The artist told Outlook that it is the only painting that he considers incomplete, as he was unable to say all that he wanted to through it.
The paintings portray a bright figure walking on dark waters away from a melancholy city. His arm is dragging behind him, sinking into the waters, chained to the city he is leaving behind. A burst of colors is coming out of his head, a cloud of energy fueling the city.
Khatchadourian’s art is mesmerizing because it tackles universally relatable themes, and tackles them well. The emotion put into his work, and his play on light and color makes the artist worth looking out for.