#oilpainting #surrealistic #naturalistic @alexandra_manukyan
What concept or narrative is behind your work?
I work in different series that cover different narratives, themes, issues, and concepts, but the central theme that unites all of my paintings is human connection. My paintings examine what seem to be separate and isolated life experiences and look for the connections to, and impacts on, other people hidden in them.
For the past several years I was working on theme of nature decaying and weakened by the forces of humans, particularly through vanity and self promotion. I portray images of strong women with almost god-like capabilities to impact the animals and environments around them.
They are fierce and in control, which, as I show, may be detrimental to their surroundings. This is a topic that runs passionately in my heart, and I hope through my art I can provoke the realization that right now, we, as a species, have the opportunity to stop this downward trend of destruction to this planet, our home.
What is your background?
From an early age, my life has been rich with culture and art. I was born and raised in Armenia, where my parents enrolled me in after school programs including art school. It was at that young age that my creative spirit was ignited. After art school, I graduated from Fine Art College and subsequently State Pedagogical University where I majored in Teaching Fine Arts.
Upon immigrating to Los Angeles in 1990, my focus turned towards the fashion industry. After graduating from fashion school and working in the fashion industry for two decades, I became proficient in graphic design by stylizing fabrics, designing screen prints, taking courses at UCLA and additional private classes. My graphic design skills gave me the opportunity to branch into the entertainment industry by becoming a freelancer for movie posters for various agencies.
I found the changes in my professional career only helped to enhance the constant in my life of painting and drawing. In 2012 I left the fashion and entertainment industries and returned my focus to my own fine arts. It was at this time I also began teaching classes in my studio, which I continue to this day. From each experience in my life, I have gained tools to express myself, my passions, and my beliefs through the art you see today.
Explain your process.
Thinking through and preparing the compositions for my paintings is an elaborate process, and sometimes it takes me months to start a painting. I always think of a series and start doing several pieces to each series. I make most of the costumes, and jewelry you see in my paintings, myself. Before starting a series, I sketch out my ideas, have a solid understanding of images I want to depict, and what models I’m going to hire, as well as what kind of clothing I need to make or rent for my heroes. My compositions take weeks, and sometimes months to finish.
I always start with imprimatura, meaning an initial stain of color in raw umber. It provides me with an evenly toned ground. Then I start drawing my objects, paying very close attention to the accuracy. After the drawing layer is dry, I build the under-painting layer, and most of the impasto.
After I let these two layers completely dry, I start painting successive layers of colors, giving each layer time to dry before applying the next coat of paint. My final stages are glazes and scumbles, which are semi-transparent layers. Subsequently, it takes me months to produce each painting.
How many works have you sold recently?
Within these five years a little over 70 of my artworks were sold.
Do you ever venture out of your creative process to try out new things?
I create a lot of abstract non-figurative paintings, but never show them. They help me to be more diverse and not limit my mind and sensibility. Even though I’m really good at abstract, I keep my name more associated with figurative surrealist art. I also like creating costumes, headdresses, and sew different gowns for my models to model for my paintings. Also enormously enjoy making elaborate jewelry pieces.
2019 Exhibitions and Press
2019 September, 12x12 show, curated by Thinkspace Gallery, Chicago, IL
2019 August, 12x12 show, curated by Thinkspace Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2019 July, PAINTING THE FIGURE NOW, at Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, WI
2019 June,12x12 show, curated by Thinkspace Gallery, San Fransico, CA
2019 June, (solo exhibition) SOULS AMONGST THE ECHOES, at Lovetts Gallery, Tulsa, OK
2019 May, SECONDARY MEANINGS: Figural Diptychs, at ZhouB Art Center, Chicago, Il
2019 March, THE IMAGINARY, group exhibition, at Carnegie Museum, Oxnard, CA
2019 March, I OBSERVE, group exhibition, at Rehs Contemporary Gallery, NY.
2019 March - May, PAINTING TODAY, group exhibition, MEAM Barcelona, Spain.
2019 February, ADORN ME, group exhibition, curated by Carol Hodes for PoetsArtsists
2019 January, LA ArtShow, at Rehs Contemporary Gallery, Los Angeles, CA