Araxie Kutchukian likes to question the boundaries of reality by experimenting with space, colour, structure, and the surreal. Her body of work is a combination of theatre and reality.
Essentially, she makes up her own world playing around with found images and lots of oil paint. She provokes and surprises, always on the lookout for the unsuspected. By putting objects and people in one defined space she allows them to play with each other.
“…It’s almost like a puzzle, how I work. I like a sense of balance, with a little added twist. ”
Araxie likes to keep it fresh, sees her paintings as a platform, a stage for the contemporary and antique at the same time. Changing scales and working against the viewer’s expectations make her body of work somewhat strange and quirky.
We encounter a kind of perplexing environment within a random order of found images in layers of paint. For her, history reveals the process of the painting. Through explicit multi-layering, she adds a sense of time and weight.
Born and raised in London, Araxie has a strong connection to Armenia. Her grandfather was the classical composer Alexander Arutiunian, who died this year at the age of 91 in Yerevan, the city of his birth.
Arutiunian was, for 60 years, an internationally recognised figure from the South Caucasus. He mainly composed in the traditions of the Soviet era and some call him spiritual father of Armenian classical music. His opera Sayat-Nova (1967) brought Araxie back to Armenia for one year.
Araxie compares her style to that of Chris Ofili.
Looking back at her experience as Costume and Set Designer of Sayat-Nova, Araxie compares her style to that of Chris Ofili. Just like Ofili for Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Araxie painted all scenic paintings from start to finish, even though the Royal Opera House in Yerevan had their own painters on call.
From a series of small sketches she scaled up to gargantuan sizes, and completed her paintings after months of intense work. Whilst Araxie finds it hilarious now, she does remember vividly how horrendously stressful it was to paint day and night by herself, whilst the professional set painters drank coffee and played backgammon next door. Taking control comes natural to her ever since.
As an artist, Araxie feels she needs to put her distinctive mark on all her work. When she worked on theatre sets, she saw her work as paintings and now that she is painting, she sees her work from a stage design point of view. Her work intermingles landscapes and interiors.
Subjects and objects ranging from childlike figures, toys, furniture, wheels, balls and animals, are used as props within the landscape to facilitate an alternate and unexpected reality. Her great fascination for the found image is integral to the construction of her paintings. Foraged postcards, old photographs, images from contemporary design magazines and from the internet are the origins for every single one of her paintings.
02 – 12 August 2012
Araxie Kutchukian (b. London, 1983) trained in Fine Art: Painting at Wimbledon College of Art, London, graduating in 2008, and now lives and works in London. Since graduating, projects and commissions include Head Set and Costume Designer for the opera ‘Sayat Nova’ at the Yerevan State Opera House, Armenia, and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in association with the Southwark Playhouse. She has exhibited in both London and Armenia.