Barooshian Exhibit Piques the Imagination

WATERTOWN, Mass.—Martin Barooshian is the kind of artist whose work needs to be seen in order to be appreciated and understood.

Artist Martin Barooshian with ALMA exhibit

Sometimes it takes a while.

Barooshian is currently on exhibit at the Armenian Library & Museum of America (ALMA) where 50 of his selected pieces of impressionistic art are on display through Jan. 20. More than 100 guests turned out Oct. 2 for a grand opening and reception.

Titled “Pointillism to Surrealism,” the gallery covers various mediums and approaches spanning years of intense creativity and technical finesse, taking the viewer down a path of mystery, humor, eroticism, lyricism, line, and color, and into the depths of an unconscious mind.

“It definitely calls for interpretation,” said Barbara Sohigian of Middleton. “You can look at it one way and get a different meaning another way. Martin’s art is diverse in every sense, forging him into the best of his class.”

The work invites you to acquire a contemplative spirit into an unpredictable world filled with surrealist fantasies and joyous abstract design.

One eye-stopper must be the “Twin Towers,” dedicated to the 10th anniversary of September 11 and the terrorist attacks. It shows the two buildings intact prior to their destruction. Another work devotes itself to music, essentially Bach and Beethoven, two of the artist’s favorite composers, done in oil.

A still-life with fish features a mixed media approach, while an ink painting of a disengaged ballet dancer requires further scrutiny.

“Though this is primarily a show of my newest paintings spanning the last decade, some other influential prints and drawings are also included,” Barooshian said. “To my surprise, I realized that ideas from such drawings have been germinating in my mind for years and have found their way into my new style 50 years later.”

Barooshian commended the ALMA staff for posting what he called “a museum-quality show,” which ironically coincides with the opening of a Karsh exhibit on the ground floor. Visitors to the museum got a double treat at the grand opening.

“ALMA is one of our valuable treasures both inside and outside the Armenian community whose potential hasn’t been fully realized,” he said. “Hopefully, many more artists and photographers will take advantage of this facility.”

Born in 1929 in Chelsea, Barooshian has distinguished himself as an artist whose great vitality and willingness to explore is matched only by his technical finesse. He is regarded as a superb and accomplished printmaker having innovatively produced in every graphic medium, including woodcuts, etchings, engravings, lithographs, and silk-screens.

Over the past 55 years, Barooshian has been fascinated by what he calls fantastic art and surrealism. He cites the work of Miro, Matta, Dali, and, in particular, Archile Gorky as contributing to the development of his style.

He shares with them an artistic commitment to exploring the subconscious mind. Imagination, fantasy, and freedom of thought are of paramount importance to this philosophy.

With his technical expertise firmly established, Barooshian created many fine and compelling works, including the “Alice in Wonderland” series, a successful venture that rekindles several memorable scenes and characters from the Lewis Carroll classic.

“To me, painting with oils on canvas go hand-in-hand with printmaking,” said the spry octogenarian. “Frequently, a print image will trigger off a painting idea, and quite the reverse. There’s no doubt that painting for me has the greater amount of problems necessary to solve than printmaking. I try to be good in both. When one tires of painting for a few days, one can switch to prints.”

No portraits. Nothing to do with landscapes. Forget the bowls of fruit and flowers. Barooshian derives his pleasure from mystery art.

According to one critic, Barooshian’s prominence has been somewhat subdued because his paintings and prints have always gone against the grain of the art scene.

Yet, by reinventing a new approach, he reinvents himself. In the process has come a glorious world of great storms, mythological heroes, and Faustian love affairs with an impeccably bold color sense.

Judging by the ALMA works, a kaleidoscope of color matches any foliage seen in season.

“I’d be bored to tears if I wasn’t involved with art,” Barooshian said. “It’s been my obsession for decades and continues to build self-esteem. My art is designed to make people think.”

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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