Inner Life of Art: Sculptor chooses movement as methodology for answering big questions

When the unpredictable current of life takes sculptor Karen Baghdasaryan to a deadlock, he finds the way out in his art; he goes up to his small studio in the attic and lives in the world he has created.

It’s a peculiar world that is not the realistic reproduction of life, but a reflection of a different face of reality – the way the sculptor sees it creating a parallel new life living with different values.

For an artist to live and create stay free in creative work is a difficult challenge that demands either acceptance or struggle; or to surrender to commercialism.

Baghdasryan has chosen to fight.

“I just can’t cheat, if the idea does not touch me, I can’t work, I can’t force myself [to do that],” he says and puts on the table one by one the sculptures that are part of his life, the materialization of his thoughts and emotions.

Baghdasaryan says he does not belong to any art “ism”, but is more inclined toward surrealism, because one is sincere only in the depths of consciousness, although the greatest surrealists failed to find the way leading to sub-consciousness even with Freud’s help.

“Exactness is not truth” – this thesis of contemporary art is important also for Baghdasaryan, who does not accept the principles of the realism. He is not satisfied with just objectively seeing the world and depicting it the same way, but tries to see what others don’t – to see and to depict the invisible.

In Baghdasaryan’s art the real and the imaginable are intertwined; the ideas mainly come of real problems, but the ways of expression are born in imagination. One of those pieces is a composition with a working title “Half-Made People”. Here he voices out a big ecological problem depicting the human being cut off from nature, today’s society that is just created to devour nature.

The sculptor wants to build a big glass globe, with the central part of his sculptural composition in the center – the tree stretching its hands above, with big spreading roots. The environmental organizations will settle inside the glass globe and work together on a systemized program.

Outside of the globe – in the territory of the park around – will be other characters of the composition comprised of 15 arts – the “half-made” people, running away.

Those human characters are out of nature, they run away from everything -- themselves, life and responsibility. The sculptor expresses the disharmony in their souls, their condition of being suppressed by distorting the physical characters and by cutting them off nature and the artificial reality becomes grotesque in his works.

The figures making the parts of the composition are complete, in dynamic movement and are viewed as separate sculptures, but they are distorted; a head looking above stems from strained and muscled hands, for instance, another one coming out of legs hurrying somewhere. The sculptural symbolism of distorted bodies manifests the problem of the wreckage of ideals, the desperate struggle of the human for physical existence and the psychological inner drama of people deemed to not live free.

“This is a kind of a question that I ask myself very often, where do we go and where will we get to?” says the sculptor trying to find the answer to the eternal question of the philosophy of human life in his art.

He tries to find new ways of expression while in search; the last finding of his is the kinetic (moving) art that gives opportunity to find the most interesting solutions to realize his ideas.

“I was tired of monotony, static forms. I tried to get rid of those limitations and the best means for it was kinetic art,” says Baghdasaryan.

The sculptures made by that principle are set in motion by means of a mechanism that gives opportunity to make motion a way of expression.

For instance, the composition done by this method and called “Yes” is a work in minimalist style; a head with severe look in the eyes is fixed on two wings, where the head is periodically brought into motion by means of the mechanism and nods as if saying “Yes”. The compositional solution of the sculpture, the generalized face and wings seem as if the head is hidden in the shoulders, giving way to various interpretations of the ‘yes’.

“Every person has to decide for himself what this ‘yes’ means for him. The interesting thing with this method is the involvement of the viewer to perceive it by his own emotions,” says the sculptor.

Art is a way of searching, where Baghdasaryan, however, signifies one thing – not to recede while realizing the idea and not to lose the thread that should be decidedly brought to the end. This is the pivotal principle typical to the artist that art critic Sol Le Witt used to say: “When the artist changes his mind within the course of the work, it means he complies with the result and repeats the previous ones.”

Baghdasaryan has been exhibited in a number of countries – France, Japan, Switzerland, Lithuania, Germany, and, of course, in Armenia. One of his works is on display in the Holocaust Museum in Zurich, and is devoted to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.