5th April – 25th May 2008
The Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen is pleased to announce «Local Gothic and Culture», the first major solo show by the Armenian artist Armen Eloyan (*1966) in Switzerland. New paintings and drawings have been created especially for the exhibition, which will offer the public an insight into Eloyan`s work.
With his paintings, Armen Eloyan opens up a world full of crude personalities and anthropomorphic animals situated in bizarre scenarios. Here an audibly farting and undressed queen, there a sausage collective, here a jaundiced mickey-mouse, there a stickman, here two friends lolling on a sofa, there a little frightened girl in a forest. The viewer might find it hard to identify with the grotesquely embroidered figures, as Eloyan reveals above all the inadequacies of homo sapiens, though in a humorous manner. In his exaggerated presentation of the world`s whimsical distortions and deformations, the artist draws on the rhetoric of the grotesque and of caricature. In this sense, it hardly comes as a surprise that Eloyan depicts a harsh life for the protagonists who populate his canvas, embedding them in a cosmos of brutality, sexuality, triviality and innocence. It seems as if the artist had written a script for every single painting. Even if the exact plot delineated on the canvas often remained obscure, the scenario still roars and bellows an entire narrative at us. Eloyan` s world is a sampling, its set pieces appropriated from the most diverse sources, such as East-Asian woodcuts, 19th century embroidery, of fairytales and folktales, animated cartoons and comic strips as well as other forms of popular culture. Yet despite these visual allusions, Eloyan still realigns his work with classic genre painting, such as the portrait, the landscape and the interior scene. Stylistically, his work is reminiscent of the Fauves and the Jungen Wilden and shares both their spontaneous gesture as well as the expressive figurations of encoded creatures.
Paste-like and thinly applied oil paint, a vaulted and staccato-like brushstroke, carefully primed streaks of dripping paint – this only inadequately describes the gesture of the perceived physical painting technique of Armen Eloyan. His freehand and partly even profuse style lends a high degree of vitality to his partly opulent mise en scènes, which at times transgress beyond the picture frame. Yet Eloyan not only succeeds in representing a bizarre commune in his large-format and often multipart paintings, but has also probed the small format and the medium of drawing. Above all in the pencil drawings of the exhibition, which are actually blown-up reproductions of the small-scale original formats, Eloyan`s sense for the picture frame and the gestural moment becomes manifest. Here again, the vigorous lines sketch the deficiencies and the awkwardness of our species in all conceivable variations. The fascination lies precisely in the gradual shifting of the ugly, the grotesque, the orgiastic, the brutal and animalistic packed with humour, thus reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously and eventually asking us to reconsider our own positions again and again.
Since taking his degree at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam in 2005 Armen Eloyan has been living and working in Zurich. Of late Eloyan`s work has been shown in the following exhibitions: Live Undead Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2008), Two Feet in one Shoe: Armen Eloyan Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London (2007), Centre Culturel Suisse (Project Room), Paris (2007), Bad Dad Objectif_exhibitions, Antwerp (2007).
Alongside, Roman Wolgin (*1971) shows an installation consisting of drawings and video animations that have been especially produced for the exhibition. The Berlin-based Russian studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Den Haag from 1993 to 1995 and attended the Rijksakademie Amsterdam from 2003 to 2004. Armen Eloyan has invited Roman Wolgin as a guest to present his work to the Swiss public.
Special acknowledgement goes to the Gallery Bob van Orsouw in Zurich.