ARA MIKAELIAN

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Review

Pictorial Allegories

   

   I am basically acquainted with the story of Ara Mikaelian, the professional man and conscientious artist.

He told it himself, with calm words, illustrating it with the inexhaustible fortune of the untiring imagination, that is poured in his works. Now that, in a risky figurative exercise, he puts once more before our eyes the novelty of his recent work, I think it precise to reflect upon the human dimension of his painting. If a concept of intemporality can be applied to an artwork, locating it in any moment of history, alien to any seductive opportunism, I can say that we are witnessing a part of the endless work that has the probability of achieving this extraordinary universalist feature.

         I only would like to say that the painting of stimulating images and beautified representations of touching motives do not make an artist. This assumed particularity is the admired facet displayed by the evident beauty, the appearance of the object perceived in its attractive zenith and the result of an artwork masterly realized. The works by Mikaelian are themselves elaborated material models of pulchritude, obsessed preciosity and refinement in the detail, representing with thoroughness what his original orientalist fantasy has conceived, besides of the many and exemplary artistic referents and authorized citations chronicled, that could be added as a just acknowledgement of the firmness of his accomplishment. Though these already seem sufficient merits for endorsing his work, nevertheless, besides of demonstrating the possession of these capacities, it is an essential faculty of poets and visionaries to create metaphors and sobering tales using verbal and chromatic allegories that emerge from the confinement of perfection of the appearance and are hinted and described in the interpretation of each of these paintings, a substantial argument, composed and narrated till the achievement of a consistent teaching and an undeniable corollary of the allegedly manifested. This is what gives depth and significance to the aim of Mikaelian.

        In his papers and canvases we must conceive the vision of each group of images as suggestive parables that must be interpreted carefully. We observe the beauty of nudity opposite the violence of the blood; the helplessness of the flower faintly possessed by the sword; the precious innocence snatched by the impulsive and blind elemental force of the bull, that scatters confusedly over the wilderness the pearl-shaped adornments of the virtue. The symbolism of gold and silver, chiseled as served glasses full of coins and bejeweled ornamental medallions, adorning the enriched misery of the carcass of our ambitions, skeletonized in residual shells absolutely deprived of all the vain preciosity of their carnal cover. Brutal images of the invasive Nature, essential and organic, inhabited with insects and animals restored to life and represented to exorbitant scale, in dimensions that turn out to be frightening and threatening when they break into what we consider our green and quiet vital spaces.

        In a plural scenery Mikaelian brings together prosaic static characters akin to title pages of imaginable epic legends never written and, distinctly, attractive female images voluptuously relaxed on beds of satin, silk and embroidered covers, left aside with indifference so as to offer us the lustful fascination of their intuitable mystery, plunged in the neglect of their untouchable and modest beauty, huddled between promises of parties and illusory fantasies. Everything subtly described with transparent ethereal brushstrokes, molten and suggestive, or precise and severe, in accordance with the tale proposed. And then, sheltering himself in the cold severity of the light, or in the gentle grey and the ungrateful blackness of the shade, with the courage of a reporter of eternal topicality he undertakes, without any blush, the dumb description of the vague existential severity of some other anonymous beings, that must smile hermetically facing the hope of a foreseeable nothing.

        With the same intensity, this artist undertakes the detailed representation of the refined and perfect, as well as stresses the cruel decisiveness of the vitally dramatic. In the same way that nothing disturbs his passion for capturing whatever endowed with attractiveness, he proves to be severe in the tale of what can touch our hearts. These two extremities and everything that can be conceived between them vibrate in his mind in an absolutely clear form, without pretending any other satisfaction than that of accomplishing his clearly realized mission of being true to himself, always.

Gerardo Fontanes

Pérez

Painter and gallerist

The Armenian artist Ara Mikaelian contributes to the panorama of contemporary arts an exceptional emotional and aesthetic baggage.

       Certainly, the mastery of this painter and architect, now settled in Canet de Mar, seduces us with its purified technique of great master of figurative symbolism; his oneiric world of beauty and atmosphere, elements kept between the conscious and the subconscious, wisely arranged, that transport us through a timeless space into a rich and luxurious world of subliminal objects and forms of disquieting and fascinating beauty. The paintings by Mikaelian result in a meeting with the far beyond, from a dream that solely the spirit, the joy and the sufferings of the great Armenian nation can offer us through this painter.

      The contemplation of his work captivates and allures by the density of forms and light, that take us to a magical world of antique submerged cultures jealously maintained in the ancestral memory which nothing but art and mastery are able to convey.

     The creations by Mikaelian recover the imagination that today’s Art and Architecture lack so much.

Josep Tarrés,

Poet

The Hell and the Glory of Painting the Soul

      The achievement of a work of Art is the essential expression that fundamentally distinguishes the humans from other species that coexist with him on the Earth.

      If it were possible to give an exact description of the complex feelings, the swarm of perceptive sensibilities, the delicate capacities that inspire an artist and of the subtle and intangible threads that move his expert hands while working, we would break the mystery that holds the magic attraction, which a resulting work of Art represents to its observers, gaining an active protagonism and educative influence on its contemporaries. But beyond all this is the history that defines and justifies the motive for which some people, among so many individuals born, happen to choose using iconographic coloristic forms materially expressed by plastic elements, in order to reflect their experiences, dreams and personal criteria.

      Every artist is self-defined as a witness of his time, but still far beyond, he tries to reflect as he comprehends the anxious world of his desires, dreams and horrors, his perceptions of evident beauty and obvious ugliness and endures as he can the terror of coexisting with the memory of the irrationally suffered. An artist dreams of formal and aesthetic ideals of high rank; he is an individual capable of sublimating his vital projections, turning the presumably or apparently negative of the existence into illusioned hopes. It is not casual that his life is always connected to austerity and sacrifice, nevertheless within such inferiority of resources, he is in all time able to produce the best and the most distinguished fruits of his genius.

      Mikaelian is a young man, vital, enormously engaged in his work and in life who participates in a dual world coexisting interiorly in a contrary form of existence and ability of manifesting. On one hand, his synthetic vision of the human condition, of its contrasts and disfavored existences of social paradoxes: acts of incomprehensible immorality and other painful situations which he describes in a narrative clear language, direct and absent from contemplations. In them he applies the essential tonal of the denial of color, using the white, the grey and the black as neutral tonal means with the use of a careful drawing and a composition of extreme and severe form of personalistic perfection, that endow the narrative of the facts with an expressively dramatic character. With them he clears his memory from torture and spiritually liberates himself so as to be able to face the other coexisting world; the dreamed, oneiric, sublime world.

      It is in this last field that the enormous richness of his artistic conception finds greater satisfaction. In his paintings the symbology turns into beautiful nudity, lustful color, overflowing chromatism and a very complex framework of bejeweled details, represented with such a sweetness and delicacy of realization that can only be materialized by hands endowed with a talent extraordinary and divine. The ideological richness and the orientalist voluptuousness of his ancestors find their true representation in the paintings by Mikaelian, confirmed in fantastic allegories of cryptic symbology that suggest multiple readings and interpretations. The original variation in the usage of pictorial techniques, densities of oil have a common origin: the refinement of his work and the unique treatment of his artworks.

Gerardo Fontanes Pérez

Painter and gallerist

     

       Experts of great authority define him as a master of figurative symbolism. I agree with them. The observation of Mikaelian’s paintings awakens a world of emotions in us, that reach as from the purest regions of his irrefutable mysticism. He has resolved aesthetic problems, invented procedures, discovered secrets of the technique, and, in his whole area, has achieved some really unexpected results.

       His art is a novelty, although originated in the antiquity, synthesizing the feeling of his ancestors. One can’t belong to a certain generation nor a race without any consequences. Mikaelian, although still an adolescent, starts the Black Period, a faithful reflection of the epoch he got to live in his native Armenia.

      The black painting of Mikaelian is a whole tractate of sentiment, and, all the same, of tenderness. Despite his dramatism, there is an apparent beauty in his painful, almost apocalyptic figures, immersed into an atmosphere of tragedy that, at first sight, even causes certain discomfort. These black artworks seem melodies of great purity to me. Characters full of dramatism appear on severe, a bit hazy backgrounds, figures with a legendary spirit, almost supernatural with the expressive power they emit. The paintings of the Green and Golden Periods do not bear this bitter hint. Mikaelian puts together unusual elements, apparently with a total diatonism- like an orchestra formed of harp, xylophone, piano and trumpet, that silently interfere in the construction of his pieces, acrobacies unaccessible to other hands. He is a neoclassical in the deep, who searches for motives in his environment, which by their formal invariability, by their nudity or virtues reminds of the great traditions that nourish his art and endow his artworks with a lapidary solidity.

      There is an aspect in his works, which confers a special interest on them: the sense of mystery. The mystery derives from putting into contact diverse elements in improbable places. The sense of unexpected associations is oriented by his sensibility, as well as forms part of his habitual language formed in centuries of traditions. This faculty of reorganization of realities not subjected to what we call logic, is truly a gift.

      It is obvious that the placing of a crocodile on a bed, or of a cock within a jewellery box can create a surprise. Inevitably, other prodigious compositions come to our memory, those which another great talent- Giorgio de Chirico, would contribute to the plastic arts of time. The comprehension of these visions of superhuman liberty may be difficult for all of us, on whom the civilization imposes a day-to-day tyranny which makes impossible any incursion into these prodigious places that we will never find on conventional maps.

Looking at these paintings, let us be enchanted by the sorcery of these female bodies, which, lying in silence , evoke the most delightful miracles of life, let us fix upon a multitude of elements, located in surprising plastic cadencies , and then if you want, let your imagination fly in search of the significations.

      There are no fortuities in the paintings by Mikaelian. He puts on the stage of his canvases and papers the most profound feelings of his soul, even though sometimes the meeting of these with the real conditions of our existence can produce a sensation of anguish that we occasionally find in his paintings. In spite of everything, I see a triumphal point in his symbolism, see the Man overcome his misery, see the Man singing a psalm of power and optimism, exulting a song to the life. The evidence of artworks of great quality must be recognized, original, intense in contents and significations, realized with a prodigious technique.

       Ara Mikaelian, from the lineage of the survivors from Ararat, grandson of de Chirico, friend of lizards, dogs and rams that live in his paintings, is a man strong and delicate at the same time, man of a primitive soul, with that divine liberty of a tree that grows without asking permission from anyone, caressed by the sun, shaken by the wind.

         His life is simple and laborious like that of a medieval craftsman. His mind flies high, submerging in a cloud of symbolisms, perhaps the fruit of his turbulent interior life that , nonetheless, permits him to stop on immediate objects in which he finds satisfaction. His potential for work and his courage of undertaking the enormous task, which any of his paintings represent , infuse a devoted expectation towards his work, which is solid and pure. Hence, agreeing or not with his premises, it must be contemplated with reverence.

            Mikaelian has been living in Catalonia for many years, but his heart continues beating in the mystical compasses of Asia Minor, with his characters broken off by centuries of sufferings, with the riches of the Golden Horn poured in his paintings, with his nudes so delicate and his women in the style of Teodoras covered with rhinestones. Can still one day this host Catalonia get a corner in the soul of the painter and in this way make more ours this exceptional artist? I want to believe that so it will be.

Richard Comprodon

London, April 13, 2010