To be an artist means to me to gain that ultimate and sought-after freedom. With the power of colour, I capture the beauty of landscapes, light refractions […]
Our new interview with Gaya Karapetyan is the first time Vox Groovy ever approached abstract art. This time, we’ll be moving away from the world of AAA games, art directors, and tight deadlines, and more towards a freer place where people express their feelings and experiences through wondrous combinations of flowing colour and shape. Earlier on in the year, we spoke about the art of Hilma af Klint on our radio.
After discussing the woman whose work precedes even that of Wassily Kandinsky, who is often referred to as “the Father of Abstract Art,” we felt inspired to discover more about this elusive art movement through a sincere conversation with a contemporary abstract painter. Now that we’ve got Groovy’s part of story out of the way, let’s allow Gaya to introduce herself in her own words:
I am a self-taught, award-winning international contemporary abstract artist from Toronto, Canada. “Creation through the abstract art is the sublime freedom to express oneself.” To be an artist means to me to gain that ultimate and sought-after freedom. With the power of colour, I capture the beauty of landscapes, light refractions, mysterious fluctuations of water, texture of flowers, and deviational patterns of a moving form. Music is that powerful source of inspiration which induces my profound emotions, plays on the strings of imagination and culminates in a refined creativity of artwork.
In our talk with Gaya, you’ll learn about the messages she wants you to find in her work, artists that influence her, and how the digital age impacted art in her opinion. It’s an interesting talk, but most importantly, it’s something different.
Tell us about your journey so far.
First of all, I would like to thank the entire Vox Groovy team for this great opportunity to share my thoughts on art, talk about my artistic experiences, and to discuss my work. And of course, the challenging but incredibly exciting journey I have undertaken in the world of creativity and the imaginative unknown.
In the seven years of my art career, I have had over 100 exhibitions worldwide: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK, Slovakia, Japan, United States and Canada. My paintings are proudly held in several private collections. Video art projects I created were presented in major art events and festivals in Germany and Italy. My art book “Stretching the Boundaries of Abstract” was published in 2015.
I have to admit that I am quite ambitious and like to compete in international art competitions. Over the years, I gained confidence through being recognized by reputable international jurors and art critics. I have succeeded in many of my endeavours and am very proud of it. I am a winner of many prestigious international prizes and awards such as Palm Art Award (2019), Great Art UK Runner-Up Award at Lacey Summer Art Prize (2015), Call for Chelsea (2017), Biancoscuro Art Contest (2017), Art Parma (2016), Artprotagonist (2015), First Place Winner in CAGO Abstracts, Artmajeur Gold Awards 2015 and 2014, as well as a finalist of Venezia Open Art and Donkey Art Prize. My artworks have been published in Art Compass 2016 by Himmelblau, Volume IX of International Contemporary Artists, featured in Aesthetica Magazine and an issue of Women in Art 278.
But most importantly, I am very appreciative and grateful to thousands of my Art Lovers worldwide who support, follow and encourage me over these years, wait for my new works, write poems and music inspired by my paintings and write heartfelt testimonials. My Art Lovers always give me strength to go forward.
Do you believe it is necessary to attend a school to study art?
I am a self-taught artist and very proud of it. How have I become an artist? This blessing was already in me, it just needed a trigger, the right timing and environment to be revealed. That was not structured or a carefully thought out step in my life. It was a spontaneous spiritual rebirth. I have discovered my true calling and realized that painting is what I want and love to do. Likely, in my case, it was reflective of a natural flow of events and my lived experiences.
If we speak about educational or occupational background, I would not prioritize them heavily. My conviction is that art creation is not determined by those factors, they can be contributing but not determining of one’s art direction or creativity levels, and therefore there is nothing unusual with the fact that someone is self-taught because creating art is calling, and not an occupation or a skill.
Could you tell me a little bit about the first abstract artwork you were genuinely proud of?
I love and am proud of all my completed artworks, otherwise, they would not have been presented to the public. Each of them represents a small particle of my soul. If you are asking about one specific piece which was the first one to conquer the art world’s attention then I would mention “Niagara Reckless Run” (2015). It is one of the foundational and most prominently published works of mine with a multitude of awards and recognitions earned, and it is really special for me. Amount of emotionally charged work it requires is enormous. I do associate the painting’s power and energy with Niagara Falls, which I have experienced once I have arrived in Canada. I created it inspired by the song “Ya Lublu Tebya Do Slez” by Alexandr Serov.
When I showed the painting to my late favourite aunt Elya, who was my critic and incredible supporter from the beginning of my art journey, she said, “Wow, Gaya, this is truly a very strong work, and I have to tell you that you grew in your mastery.” Her words were like a prediction of the popularity of this artwork. In a way, it defined one of the leading trends in my portfolio. It fully reflects the both inspirational factors that influence my artwork: music and nature. In Niagara’s case, it’s the music of its reckless run and overflowing water.
A New Day
Walk us through some of your favourite pieces, what are some of the messages you want people to find in your work?
It is difficult to mention any specific pieces because they are all my favourites, but I will try to emphasize some paintings which are conceptually unique and set a direction of my art. The leitmotif narratives are provided for each of them, but they do not intend to guide the viewer, and all my works are free for interpretation.
“Pomegranate Tango” (2014)
Explosive passion of the tango moves, nothing left intact except a lonely motionless pomegranate… This work is created from and intended to express the passion, passionate tango with colours dispersed all around, and the lonely motionless pomegranate theme is always present in the painting, with a symbolic question as to whether he is the part of a dance or it remains emotionless and intact and just observing the tango moves. And all those movements and equivocations happen on the background of a mild extremely soft colour. I welcome interpretations from my art lovers, and they are extremely generous in comments on this piece of art.
An escape from, an escape to… quiet, silent, reflective, meaningful and meaningless at the same time, driven by abstract shapes and shadows of sensual reality and muted movements of objects, feelings and thoughts… Escape not only conveys my admiration with nature but it also embraces the sublime surreal reality of life and the surrounding world through the lens of our aspirations towards freedom, co-existence with and within nature, emotional strength, optimistic endurance and resurgence. Escape is a symbol of peace and quietude, tenderness, lucidity and endless love.
“A New Day” (2017)
A New Day… reawakening, perpetual renewal with all existence embodied in the present through the eruptive energy of the day and the reinvented and invigorated power of light of the Sun and under the Sun… A New Day not only conveys my fascination with nature, but it also embraces our aspirations towards freedom, co-existence with and within nature, emotional strength, optimistic endurance and resurgence. A New Day is a symbol of optimism and endless love of life, whatever form it takes. This is a very important painting for me because before creating it, due to some stressful life events, I couldn’t paint for over 3 months. Then, I created this piece, it brought me back to my usual state, and that’s why I called it “A New Day.”
“Golden Cherry Tale” (2018)
All what is cherished and all what is precious is a cherry tale untold, hidden in a little golden vault… Golden Cherry Tale conveys my inspiration with the power of colour that transforms into a romanticism of human nature. Strong elements of sensual expressionism and existential philosophy are present in this specific colourful panel with a contrasting juxtaposition of dominant gold and deep violet. The work embraces the surrounding world through the lens of our aspirations towards true values of existence somewhat mysteriously hidden under the veil of known objects and unknown sentiments.
“The Orbit of Time” (2019)
The past and the future never cross… Or do they meet at each moment of the present that we live and orbit all around us with every single blink of our eyes… The Orbit of Time explores the concept of time and its reflection in the space as well as human perception of time. I philosophically approach the matter of existence or non-existence of time via utopia visions and emotional perceptions of it.
This work conveys dystopian realities of our lives, where misery co-exists with the glamorous arrogance and the most important matters which are often neglected, including humans. Strong elements of sensual expressionism are also present in this specific spiritual and philosophic work with the background theme of the cityscape live observations and metaphorical reflections on the nature and expressions of human suffering, the agony and pain of heart.
I created this painting after seeing homeless people lying down on the street in downtown in winter at -25 °C. It was horrible. That moment I felt their agonising despair and helplessness. I couldn’t stop crying and needed to express my emotions on canvas by creating this piece.
In the darkest dungeons of the human soul, in a sombre destiny of human nature, hopelessly caged to the very last moment with a weak and gleaming light of an apparent path to the only exit, there are prisoners somewhere or everywhere… The prisoners of promise or prisoners of conscience or prisoners of dream? The hostages of ancient customs, memories or modern world that we created with utmost vigour but without any thought… The prisoners, and who they are, and are they us? The painting is a dystopian fantasy that reaches out to the individual conscience and attitudes of the viewers with a call for a thought about important intransigent things that we care about most.
I created this painting on 02.02.2020 just before the whole world went on lockdown. Maybe I felt something? Later on, I was shocked by the upcoming events and prophetic meaning of the painting. The whole world became a huge prison, and we were all prisoners in it.
“Murano Secrets” (2020)
The mystery and magic of Murano glass… as if it travels through the history of ages – a real farce resembling these mosaics, unravelling the dreams and hidden content in a witty box of free imagination – we see a lot of secretes trickle, and eager figures locked in fear and folks tenacious reappear… In this particular painting, my utopia visions and emotional perceptions are conveyed through the lens of Murano glass and its magic, mystery, a hidden content of centuries puzzled in a box of imagination where once can see different objects, figures and characters fabulously intertwined in a pursuit of secretive ambush and seduction. I created this painting after visiting Venice, Italy, inspired by its beauty and uniqueness.
This is one of my latest works, and it represents socio-philosophical reflections on our lives as fragmented as wholesome they are. Capitalism explores the surreal realities of our nowadays world in the context of social, economic, political and philosophical reflection on the values and ideas that drive the mankind towards its logical conclusion. There are reflections on the value of life vs. value of money, as well as a succinct characterization of the human essence. It is the motivation that has made the world what it is, a slowly collapsing ball of greed in a desperate pursuit of futile riches.
Tell us about your favourite artists, classical or contemporary, and how they influence the work you do.
There are many painters from the past who have left remarkable trace in the history of art. I would mention Van Gogh whose dramatic life is representative of all the challenges that an artist and an emerging art direction encounter and how many efforts and how long time are required to overcome those difficulties. It is stunning how fine is the line between times when Vincent lived and created, unrecognized and unaccepted, with barely one or two works sold, and the nowadays when tens of millions of dollars for his works are a matter of fact. I get inspired by his works, specifically by his exquisite use of various tones of the yellow. I love yellow colour very much, and in my opinion, the yellow is the colour of Life. In many of my artworks, I apply elements of yellow and never get tired of it.
I also admire works by Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Antonio Canova, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Claude Monet, Amedeo Modigliani, Gustav Klimt. As a woman artist, I find inspirational for me the works of exceptionally gifted French sculptor Camille Claudel. Among contemporary artists, Jackson Pollock is one of those whose influential artwork is a source of inspiration for me.
We are currently experimenting with Radio Vox Groovy—our very own Internet radio. The RVG programmes include: Art Relax, VoxStream and VoxBox as of October 2020, but we will be introducing new ones in the foreseeable future.
Our new programme—Art Relax— (EN) will be launching soon. You’ll know that this is the go-to place for every art enthusiast as soon as you tune in!
How do you feel about the new influences on art? In-between social media and the massive technological leaps like VR, the landscape has changed a whole lot.
Art industry is now in a phase of substantive and transformative change which happens once in decades. In the age of technological innovation and dominant inter-connectivity, with such powerful tools like the internet and social media, the traditional means of exchange between artists, art collectors and art intermediaries recede. They should adapt to the new realities of the digital era and the fast-growing internet art market to remain relevant. At the same time, the new technologies bring forward their shortcomings such as enormous volumes of information to be processed and filtered.
The role of the art industry is to become effective in that and be able to identify the new emerging artists and artworks at earlier stages and serve their clients, i.e. art collectors and art investors, with enhanced predictive value.
Niagara Reckless Run
What is abstract art all about from your perspective? We’ve seen it linked to so many things in the past, whether that’s dreams, metaphysics, psychology, etc. To the layman, it always seems a little bit more distant than some of the other art movements. We’d love to know what you think about it.
I would like to underline two important aspects of what makes a work – any work – an object of Art.
First, it is the process of its creation. It should be driven by the sensual and emotional sphere of the artist; the rationale element of it should be contained to the minimum possible to ensure absolute introversion and introspection. The artists cannot paint or draw preoccupied with externalities or having in mind what the viewers would think about his or her future work. It becomes irrelevant at that point because otherwise the painting stops being an artwork and transforms into a marketing tool.
The second aspect of how I define the work of art is all about perception. How the work is perceived in the eyes of the art public. The preferences and likeability attitudes of people change with the time but true works of Art always have something in common – they can trigger emotions, thoughts and a reaction – sometimes positive, sometimes not so much – among those you watch a painting. There shall not be indifference.
I have very few things to add specifically to the lens of Contemporary and Abstract Art. The name itself is self-explanatory, it is the same art which existed for centuries; however, it is contemporary, it is reflective of our time, of the current thinking of artists and presently dominating trends in art perception and appreciation.
Personally to me, as I mention it in my Artist Statement, creation through the abstract art is the sublime freedom to express oneself. To be an artist means to me to gain that ultimate and sought-after freedom. Abstract art is not only about an artist’s freedom but also the freedom of the audience to view, understand and interpret the artwork in its way, without boundaries.
Do you like the sound of Vox Groovy? If the answer is yes, don’t hesitate to engage in sonic adventures.
Mixing & Mastering is provided by Groovy Services.
The Orbit of Time
What’s next for Gaya Karapetyan?
I have ambitious plans for 2020 and upcoming years. Just recently in August, I participated in the Swiss Art Expo 2020, art exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland, represented by Artbox Project. There have been some adjustments made to my original schedule of exhibitions and presentations driven by the current limitations worldwide on travel and events imposed by COVID-19 pandemic, but I am accommodating my plans to the new realities. Sometimes, it means a postponement of an event, but most often it is just a change of the modality and heavier accent on online presence and virtual exhibits.
There are several already set exhibitions in New York, Barcelona and some other European art centres. I am in a constant search of avenues to exhibit to a broad audience because as an independent artist, I feel truly privileged to share my work with the art community and present it to the public.
Most importantly, I look forward to creating new artworks, experimenting, exploring new concepts and pathways in art and striving for creativity.
Visit Gaya Art Studio
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist
© Gaya Karapetyan or respective copyright holders
Article in Slovak language;