Visit to IN SITU Project Space: Narek Barseghyan

text by Varduhi Kirakosian
edited by Anna K. Gargarian

Busy rooms fill a long corridor leading to the IN SITU project space in Yerevan’s Malatia district. It’s the Gold’s Market building, serving as studio space for many artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs. Behind the doors of closely lined workrooms hide all kinds of arts and craftspeople deeply immersed into work that ranges from carpentry, wool spinning, metalwork to gold and silversmithing. One can also find storage units and even the odd food-producer on the fourth floor of this buzzing beehive. 

Narek greets me warmly, walking me through the small but well-equipped room he’s called his studio for the past three months. Brushes line the tables, and paint splatters coat the floor. Lining one wall are shelves messily stocked with sketchbooks, masks, and other artworks. To one side, tools hang on the wall above his desk – wrenches, pliers, a hammer, more brushes. An oversized sofa sits across from the shelving unit. 

Narek’s desk at the IN SITU Project Space, photocredits: Varduhi Kirakosian.

“I tidy up the room quite often. Things are in their place,” Narek notes. He tells me about one of his favorite artists, Francis Bacon, who saw studio clutter as a kind of metaphor for the creative act. Behind the chaos of an artist studio, order is hidden; a bit of clutter doesn’t bother Narek.

Narek Barseghyan graduated from Armenia’s Academy of Fine Arts in 2015. Classically trained in the department of painting, Narek’s works are figural, though he has seen a movement away from realistic representation. Narek became a part of HAYP/ IN SITU’s artist community in April 2017, when he participated in the pop up exhibit, “DOWN_shift” with two artworks. 

Narek Barseghyan, “The Last Kiss” exhibited at DOWN_shift, HAYP Pop Up Gallery in 2018. In a private collection.

Since then, he’s participated in several HAYP exhibits including a solo show in the framework of the 2018 Armenia Art Fair called “The Leather Show”, HAYP’s 2018 retrospective “12,12,12”, and a residency program earlier this year entitled “Almost Human”. He has now taken over our Project Space at IN SITU art agency which offers various opportunities for artists to facilitate research, production, exhibition, and exchange around critical artworks. The studio is available on an application basis for a determined time frame dedicated to a particular project. 

For Narek, the studio is a convenient walk from home and offers him large wall space for his oversized canvases, which can range from 3 to 4 meters in width. I ask Narek for his thoughts on artist residencies and their benefits. He explains that an artist residency grants new opportunities for exploring new settings, contexts, formats, and mediums that can be supported by new environments. This is Narek’s third residency, and second private studio residency. In 2016 Narek spent two weeks at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine (USA), thanks to the support of the former Luys Education Foundation. One of the highlights of that experience was his discovery of a deep interest in watercolor, a medium he used to hate. Narek believes that artist residencies widen the scope of an artist’s interests and expand their chances to explore and try new methods and techniques. Regardless, he can spend hours working on his own and without distractions, for him, it’s not a question of concentration. His style keeps evolving and he never stops learning. His inspiration comes from texts or lectures that he listens to while painting. For Narek, the process of painting is a good moment for him to digest the food for thought from philosophical, historical, and spiritual programs he follows on the radio. The only challenge to artist residencies, he tells me, is getting over his experience of attachment to a particular place. 

“The studio is not just a room for artists to make stuff, it’s a very intimate place where you live with your heart and mind,” Narek explains. “And once you finally integrate into a space and make it yours, you become attached to it, and leaving becomes challenging.”  

No matter what Narek does – he does it obsessively. His direction may not be clear in the very first canvas of each series, but he trusts the process. For Narek, capturing ideal details in painting used to be at the core of his early work. But in his third year at the Academy of Fine Arts, Narek started exploring new themes and forms that lead to a drastic shift in style away from realistic representation. He turned away from the classics and his original heroes, Rembrandt and Caravaggio, and towards American Pop Art and Neo-expressionist movements from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

An early work of Narek’s from 2015, pictured here in his former studio. Photocredits: Anna Gargarian.

From 2016 onwards, Narek began abstracting space and perspective to create collage-like compositions that incorporate elements of popular culture. Most of his recent work incorporates multilingual stream-of-consciousness text, vivid colors, and always a figural component (however distorted). 

Narek Barsgehyan, “Pepsi Generation” exhibited at The Leather Show, HAYP Pop Up Gallery, 2018.

Narek tells me that his figures are conceptual, characters inspired by Heidegger, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Nietzsche, and other German philosophers. His latest series are contemplations of fantasy inspired by his dreams and spiritual folk tales, that invite us to explore an alien world dominated by an ultramarine color palette. His “monsters”, distorted characters that are usually bodiless, are inspired by Kali, the Hindu goddess of death associated with sexuality and violence. In art, she is often represented as a fearful fighting figure with a necklace of heads, a skirt of arms, and a lolling tongue. A mask of Kali hangs on the wall of Narek’s studio. 

Narek’s Kali mask and some sketches in-progress, Photocredits: Narek Barseghyan, retrieved from Instagram.

Narek’s Monster obsession has spanned the past two years, and he’s explored them in different media. Always fascinated by fashion, for a period Narek created masks inspired by Gucci and their performative runway shows.

One of Narek’s masks shown here in his installation-performance, “ROT 45- Monsters” for HAYP 12 12 12 retrospective, 2018. Photocredits: Ed Tadevossian

His interest in fashion grew further when he visited New York – its museums, and even more so its design stores with their extravagantly designed shop windows. 

“Zara shop had more art in it than most of the museums,” Narek explains. “Clothes there weren’t just placed for sale, everything in these shops was well thought out for visual impact.” 

Narek Barseghyan, “Talis Qualis” for Leather Show.
An exhibition view of The Leather Show, May 2018 at HAYP Pop Up Gallery.
Photocredits: Alex Mirzoyan
Leather Show fashion performance, photocredits: Alex Mirzoyan.
Leather Show fashion performance, photocredits: Lush Hakobian

His interest in fashion led to a series of artworks and a fashion partnership with local designers called “Leather Show” an exhibit and fashion performance curated by HAYP Pop Up gallery in 2018.  The Leather Show fashion collection was later featured at Armenia’s MADE boutique, and Narek went on to collaborate with other designers including the “Dare to Wear” brand where he was featured as a designer-painter. For now, Narek has taken a break from the fashion world, but he’s open to coming back to it in the future.

Having difficulty finding a studio space for the past year, Narek had been working mostly in digital art up until his IN SITU Project Space residency.

He tells me that he had to confess to himself how much he missed the real process of working with the sense of touch; colors and paints. He’s made some sculptural work in studio, but points out that mastering a new medium takes years. He hopes to explore new materials, and looks forward to the chance to work with other building residents, which he hasn’t gotten around to yet.

Narek shows me some of his recently completed canvases, which he keeps rolled up, either leaning against the wall or atop a large storage unit. One by one, he unrolls the works, taking care to remove the dust and check the paint surface. As he does so, he talks about different topics in art from theater to performance, fashion, and writing. He tells me that he’s recently been doing a lot of writing, and in particular, in recording his dreams. He is as enthusiastic telling me about this as I imagine him when waking up in the middle of the night to document his nightmares. He stresses that he’s a vivid dreamer, and that his writings are so detailed that upon rereading them he sometimes wonders how much of it is recollection and how much is speculation or interpretation. 

Narek at the Project Space, photocredits: Varduhi Kirakosian.

Narek tells me he doesn’t consider himself a writer. He explains that writing his dreams occurs at a subconscious level; it’s the outcome of his immediate imagination and an exercise for better knowing himself. He’s fascinated by dreaming, and thinks of the struggles one passes through during nightmares as symbolic. Narek plans on turning his dream “adventure stories” into an artist book that would combine his writings with symbolic visuals that you can find across all of his canvases. Whether a “pause” sign, a projected tongue, or a combination of the two, Narek signs his works in his own hieroglyphics, a visual language he believes also stems from his subconscious mind and dream world.

Some of Narek’s signature symbols, photocredits: Varduhi Kirakosian

IN SITU is currently working with Narek to produce his artist book as part of the IN PRINT program. While at Project Space, Narek will be developing his book concept in parallel to his Kali-inspired canvas series. Post-residency, Narek hopes to share this body of work through a solo exhibit.

“I just love watching people enjoy what I’ve created in the right environment, with live music, and among interesting visitors. It feels awesome. Even if they don’t know I am the author, I am just glad to share the positive vibes, and it fills me with a renewed power to create.” 

The application for IN SITU Project Space residency is open on a rolling basis. To learn more about the Project Space and how to apply, visit our website here.

HAYP Pop Up’s Guide to the Armenia Art Fair: Practical tips & Info

After several weeks of (peaceful) protests, blocked roads, and halted infrastructure that left us all wondering whether indeed the Armenia Art Fair was going to happen, we are excited to be a part of its much anticipated launch this weekend at the Yerevan Expo center from May 11-13.

Armenia_Art_Fair_HAYP_Partner

While Armenia has a legacy of international contemporary art exhibitions – from the reputed Gyumri Art Biennale (from 1998 to 2012), to on-going projects at Armenia’s Center for Experimental Art (locally referred to as “NPAK” under its Armenian acronym), to last year’s 2017 STANDART Triennial of Contemporary Art- this marks Armenia’s first international commercial art fair. Although HAYP Pop Up Gallery is not your standard gallery (we operate as an N.G.O. with community projects versus an LLC), part of our mission is to stimulate and uplift the local contemporary art scene, and we believe that this is a significant step towards laying the groundwork for a much-needed Art Market in Armenia.

As a pop up gallery that lives on the margins of cultural institutions, comercial galleries, and the public and private space, together with the Armenia Art Fair organizing team, we decided to participate through a collateral project within the grounds of the Expo in an unused space at the Mergelian Institute (across from the Expo Center). But more about our project later, first, let’s take a look at what to expect at this year’s Armenia Art Fair, and some useful tips on how to get there, how to avoid “museum fatigue”, and where to eat.

Who and what is at the Art Fair?

open_space

The main motor behind the Art Fair is a team of four, including Founding Director Nina Festekjian, Co-founding Director Zara Ouzounian-Halpin, Curator Eva Khachatrian, and Communications Lead Sarah Watterson. An extended team of graphic designers, and program and exhibitions coordinators are also part of the magic.

Exhibitors include galleries, curatorial projects, and independent contemporary artists, mostly from Armenia but also from the UK, Belarus, the UAE, and Russia. As the first edition of an Art Fair in a country that, let’s face it, doesn’t have an art market (1), perhaps the most interesting component to the project is the Open Space section, the concept child of Eva Khatchatrian.

“This section is what pulled me to the Art Fair, my background is in experimental curatorial projects more than commercial galleries,” Eva told us. “The idea is to show a diverse face of Armenian contemporary art by including artists who were active in the 90s as well as emerging artists. The Open Space will create a dialogue between the two”.

Though the Art Fair’s program of events is not extensive, we are expecting some interesting content.

The Program:

Friday, May 11:
7pm Private Viewing (by invitation only)
8:30pm Performance: by Swiss artist Christian Zehnder in the framework of the Aré Performance Festival  

Saturday, May 12:
2pm Public opening
6-7pm “Transliterative Tease”: a Performance Lecture by “Slavs and Tatars”
8pm HAYP Pop Up Gallery: Opening of “Narek Barseghyan: The Leather Show”, an exhibition and fashion performance

Sunday, May 13:
6-8pm Night Owl Round Table Discussion and Q&A
Topic: “Shifting Perspectives on Art from Local to Global: The Contemporary Image Maker”
Speakers: A discussion with curators and critics Susanna Gyulamiryan (ACSL), Nazareth Karoyan (ICA), and visiting curator and writer George Schoellhammer. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Randall Rhodes (AUA).

What we’re excited about (besides our own opening, of course)

“Transliterative Tease” by “Slavs and Tatars”. Slavs and Tatars is an artist collective whose main activities include exhibitions, performance-lectures, and books. They define themselves as Eurasian, somewhere between “East of the Berlin wall and West of the Great Wall of China”. Common themes in their work concern semantics, cultural transliteration (in their words, “the younger, trashier sibling to translation”), and issues of identity politics and appropriation (of sounds, language, meaning). We won’t go too much into the details of their performance work in order to save you the treat on Saturday evening, but their use of subtle humour to slowly reel the viewer into an absurd world is seductive and hilarious.

Our Recommendation: How to spend your Saturday

Take into consideration your capacity to look at art when planning your visit, i.e. how long can you be in an exhibition space before you get museum fatigue (you know what we’re talking about, right?). If you want to make a day of it and skip the crowds, then we recommend coming right at the Art Fair opening around 2pm. This will give you plenty of time to visit the Art Fair at the Expo Center, including the galleries and Open Space, and break for a late lunch (early dinner) before attending the evening events from 6-9pm. Alternatively, if you want a half-day of events, consider coming around 4pm, which gives you about 2 hours to visit the Art Fair and maybe grab a coffee in the courtyard.

Don’t miss the 6pm Performance Lecture by “Slavs and Tatars”, before heading over at 7:30-8-ish to the other side of the courtyard to HAYP Pop Up Gallery. On the 7th floor of Mergelian Institute’s central building, HAYP has temporarily transformed an unfinished space into a gallery for a more alternative, “street”, fashion-meets-art project: “Narek Barseghyan: The Leather Show”. The Leather Show is a solo exhibit of some truly amazing works on canvas by emerging artist Narek Barseghyan, and a fashion-performance starting at 8pm of the Leather Show Collection produced during our 10 day fashion workshop where designers Narek Jhangiryan, Tatev Khachatryan, and Sarko Meené collaborated with our visual artist to create a unique 90s inspired high-low collection. Performance, live set, and light beverages will be served. Not to be missed! NOTE: Because our event starts after working hours for the Mergelian Institute, security requires you to sign-up on our Event-brite for a FREE ticket and registration (sign-up here)! Please don’t forget, bring your printed ticket, or just show the image on your phone at the entrance. If you have a printed invitation then you’re all set.

for AAF web_3

Where is the Expo and how do I get there?

The Yerevan Expo is a recently built exhibition center (2014) located within the courtyard of the Mergelian Institute Complex. The Institute was originally built in 1956 and operated as Yerevan’s Computer Research and Development Institute. The institute was famous for housing the first ever computer, and while it no longer functions on the cutting-edge of computer technology, it is still an active Tech Cluster housing multiple office spaces and start-up organizations.

Fun Art Fact: Check out Armenian modernist Yervand Kochar’s “Muse of Cybernetics” from 1972, a copper sculpture dedicated to the institute that has lived in the courtyard since 1973.

c87b2b8960ab6c42645948e9d7894d0b

Yervand Kochar, Cybernetic Muse. Photo credits: pinterest

Getting there by Taxi:

Tell your taxi driver you’re going to the “Mergelian Institute”, most drivers know the institute, but are not aware of the Expo Center since it’s still pretty new. You can always give the exact address: 3 Hakob Hakobyan street.

Getting there by Metro:

The Mergelian Institute is a 5 minute walk from the Barekamutyun Metro Station (Friends Station). Barekamutyun is the last stop on the metro line after the Baghramyan stop. When you leave the metro platform, the escalators take you to an underground market where you can find just about anything (from cheap shoes, to funky eyewear and even popcorn, shawarma and horrible wigs). It’s a circular market located under a main intersection, which means there are several exits which can be confusing if you’re not familiar with this stop. Make sure to exit at the H. HAKOBYAN STREET (Հ. ՀԱԿՈԲՅԱՆ) exit. Word of caution, the exits are listed in Armenian language only. From there, walk up Hakobyan street about 3 blocks until you get to the Mergelian Institute on the left hand side of the street. You can’t miss it, it’s the tallest building on the block. HAYP Pop Up Gallery is located on the 7th floor of this building from May 12-22. It looks like this:

73223030

Mergelian Institute, 3 Hakob Hakobyan Street.

To get to the Expo Center, walk through the main doors of the Central Mergelian Institute Building, cross the courtyard (where you’ll see a pool, randomly) and enter the Expo Pavilion. The Expo Center looks like this:

ae5c51f22f76a41ccb831797f818599b

Yerevan Expo Center in the courtyard of the Mergelian Institute

Here’s a map to clear things up!

mergelian institute_map

Where to eat?

The Expo Center has a small cafe near the main entrance, as well as a little hidden coffee stand in the courtyard garden, and a buffet-style lunch spot called Art Lunch near the main entrance of the Mergelian Institute. The food is good, cheap, and they have wifi, but it gets crowded at lunchtime in particular during office hours. If you want some real eats nearby, about a 5-10 minute walking distance from the Mergelian Complex, we have two main recommendations. Neither of them are “luxurious” in terms of interiors, but the food is consistently good and you can eat it there or get it “to-go” (տանելու “tan-eh-loo”, in Armenian).

Tasty Syrian Food at Jaco’s:

38 Gulbenkyan Street
https://goo.gl/maps/fa195pPndGG2

Jaco’s has a strange design layout, but plenty of seating both inside and outside on their terrace. The menu is a typical middle eastern menu with an assortment of Mediterranean appetizers (hummus, mutabal, tabulé, etc.) as well as tasty main dishes from skewered barbecue meats (Shish Tawuk and Kebabs) to stewed vegetables and more. They also have an extensive Hookah (or Nargile) menu, which can be a bother if you’re not into that and would like to eat in a non-smokey environment. Having said that, most restaurants in Armenia are smoking… a good solution to this problem is a table outside at their terrace.

Homemade Local Food at “Arevelyan (Eastern) Cuisine”:

16 Komitas Avenue
https://goo.gl/maps/2iKUtqAGeam

Arevelyan has an extensive menu of local dishes, from typical Eastern Armenian salads and soups (with sorrel or yogurt), to various meat dishes. If you want something quick, their savory pastries are good. Their “Khatchapouri” (or Eastern cheese-stuffed “boreg”) is simple but tasty.

That’s all we have for you today!

Join us this weekend, May 11-13, at the Armenia Art Fair, and make sure you get your tickets to HAYP Pop Up Gallery presents, “Narek Barseghyan: The Leather Show” on eventbrite here. 

email banner_leathershow_lowres

 

FOOTNOTES:

(1) We are speaking from experience when it comes to the local art market, but don’t just take it from us, UNESCO’s recent research shows that among the various cultural sectors in Armenia, the visual arts contributes only .2% of the national GDP, placing sixth most lucrative after 1) Audio-visual and interactive media, 2) Art Performances & Celebrations, 3) Literature, 4) Design, and 5) Natural Heritage (in order of GDP contribution). We have a long-way ahead towards paving the wave to healthy art market, let’s get to work!

 

 

CALL FOR FASHION DESIGNERS!

հայերենի տեքստը ստորև

CALL FOR FASHION DESIGNERS!

Do you get inspired by contemporary art? Do you love collaborating with other creatives? Have you mastered the skills of deconstruction and re-modeling? HAYP Pop Up gallery is looking for you! Our upcoming project will explore and reinterpret post soviet street style and iconic clothing items during a 2-week workshop in April and a fashion performance in May.

If you want to be a part of this exciting art & fashion collaboration send us your creative portfolio at info.hayp@gmail.com.

Application Must Include:

  • photos of your work
  • sketches
  • concepts

Workshop Requirements:

  • Interest in fashion a must
  • Experience with basic sewing/fashion/design skills necessary
  • Interest in re-modeling/reappropriation a plus
  • Familiarity with working with leather a plus
  • A good eye for color, texture, shape
  • Familiarity with Armenian 90s culture
  • Ability to fully commit to 3 hours/day for 10 day total workshop

Deadline for submission: April 13, 2018

Workshop dates: April 16-26

Workshop leader: Anais Paws

 


ԿՈՉ ԴԻԶԱՅՆԵՐՆԵՐԻՆ

Ոգեշնչում ՞եք ժամանակակից արվեստի գործերով: Սիրում ՞եք համագործակցել այլ ստեղծագործողների հետ: Տիրապետում ՞եք դեկոնստրուկցիա եւ վերարտադրման հմտություններին: ՀԱՅՓ Փոպ-Ապ պատկերասրահը փնտրում է ձ՝եզ: Մեր եկող ծրագրը կվերլուծենք եւ կվերանայենք հետխորհրդային ստրիտ ստայլը 2 շաբաթանոց սեմինարի ընթացքում ապրելին եւ ներկայացման ժամանակ մայիսին:

Եթե ցանկանում եք լինել այս արվեստի եւ մոդաի համագործակցության մի մասը, ուղարկեք ձեր ստեղծագործական պորտֆոկիոն. info.hayp@gmail.com։  

Դիմումը պետք է ներառի.

  • ձեր աշխատանքների լուսանկարները
  • էսքիզները
  • կոնսեպտները

Պահանջները մասնակցելու համար.

  • Հետաքրքրություն մոդաի մեջ պարտադիր է
  • Անհրաժեշտ է հիմնական կարի վերանորոգման / նորաձեւության հմտություններ
  • Հետաքրքրություն վերարտադրման / վերաբաշխման մեջ առավելք է
  • Կաշիի հետ աշխատելու փորձը առավելք է
  • Ունակություն գույ ների, տեկստուռաների, կերպարանքների օգտագործելու հանդեպ
  • Ծանոթություն 90-ականների մշակույթի հետ
  • Հնարավորություն 2 շաբաթվա ընթացքում ամբողջությամբ ներկա լինել 4 վորքշոփներին

Ներկայացման վերջնաժամկետը `ապրիլի 13-ը։

Վորքշոփը տվելու է`ապրիլի 16-ից 26-ը։

Վորքշոփը առաջնորդը`Անաիս Փոս։