for bad bots
1 / 1


Vachagan Narazyan: Surreal Imaginations by a Nonconformist Painter

June 12, 2017

Vachagan Narazyan: Surreal Imaginations by a Nonconformist Painter

Shapito – Circus” (the image accompanying this story) by Vachagan Narazyan depicts a panoramic view of scattered figures haphazardly arranged around a bulging, colorful circus tent. A hum of excitement lifts the morning mist from the Russian town square as the performers spill into its edges, caught in the midst of motion as they practice their routines for the day’s entertainment. This foggy, dreamlike vision is remembered through the enchanted eyes of a young Narazyan, peering out from his grandparent’s window at the city center below. Narazyan was fascinated by the uninhibited lifestyle and magical existence of Shapito’s performers, who brought contagious energy to the town with stories from far off villages and unknown places. Narazyan’s childhood intrigue with the circus stayed with him into adulthood and resurfaced as a romanticized memory when he began his art career.

Narazyan was born in Kislovodsk, Russia in 1957 where he grew up under the care of his grandparents. He graduated from the Kharkiv Art and Industrial Institute in 1979, where he received classical and technical training to become a professional artist in the Socialist Realism style. Soviet rule required artists to paint

in a traditional style that promoted socialist content and representational idealism. Artists who chose to paint in a dissident style did so illegally with the risk of imprisonment or having their work destroyed if it were exhibited publically. Nonconformist

artists formed their own movement in retaliation of Stalinist ideals, holding secret shows and smuggling their work to patrons across borders. Narazyan was at the heart of the movement with a style that combined the old world techniques he’d been taught with new age elements morphed from his imagination. Memories of the circus and his boyhood intrigue manifested as fantastical romanticism in his paintings.

The circus remains a consistent source of inspiration forNarazyan’s work, however symbols of repression such as cages or barriers around his fanciful figures have slowly disappeared as the artist settles into his freed expression. Masks continue to show up in his paintings, such as in “Bauta,” with mysteriously beautiful faces peering through them at the viewer. Angels and eggs are another common symbol for Narazyan that represent re-birth and hope for the nations that occupied the former Soviet Union.

Narazyan, who now lives and works in Ukraine, has been an internationally collected artist since his debut in the United States in 1995 at the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where twenty of his paintings were shown in a Nonconformist art exhibition. His work is also part of the public collections of paintings will be on display for his solo exhibition, opening June 30th, 5-7pm at the gallery.

 -Kelly Skeen


View 3 new videos of Vacahgan Narazyan creating the paintings featured in his Meyer Gallery 2017 exhibition by following this link:



Back to News