The colorful inner worlds of painter Vera Arutyunyan

Vera Arutyunyan, an Armenian Abstract Expressionist painter based in Los Angeles, is renowned for her dynamic use of primary colors, aggressive brushstroke style and fusion of emotions. Her masterpieces have been showcased in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, collections and auctions. According to the Los Angeles Art Association, Arutyunyan has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, biennales and shows in the United States and internationally, including France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Russia, Armenia, China, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Switzerland and Monaco. I recently had the opportunity to speak with this internationally acclaimed artist about her journey from Armenia to the global art scene, her connection to her homeland, her creative process and the nuances of abstract art.

Milena Baghdasaryan (M.B.): Can you tell us about your journey into the world of abstract art? What drew you to this particular style of painting?

Vera Arutyunyan (V.A.): Over time, my expression has seamlessly intertwined with abstract art, blending thought and language onto the canvas. This fusion has enabled me to explore the intricacies of the mind and emotions, crafting visual poetry through abstract shapes and colors. What drew me to this style of painting is its vibrant palette and expressive brushstrokes. It provides a genuine avenue for me to convey emotions and ideas. Moreover, I’m captivated by the rich history and techniques of this art form, continuously inspired by the mastery of other artists in the field.

M.B.: Abstract art can be quite subjective and open to interpretation. What themes or emotions do you aim to convey through your work?

V.A.: My art is a reflection of my deep understanding of the spiritual and emotional landscapes within me. It’s born from my exploration of life’s philosophical depths and the profound emotions evoked by the world around me. I integrate colors that speak volumes, sometimes louder than spoken words ever could. Is my art abstract? It’s as abstract as the vivid dreams that unfold within my mind.

M.B.: Could you share some insights into your creative process? How do you approach a blank canvas and transform it into a finished piece?

V.A.: The realm of painting is where I reside, even when I’m not physically facing a canvas. In my mind, I’m constantly immersed in a vibrant tapestry of colors and forms. My approach to painting is characterized by a spontaneous outpouring of creativity. I start with brushes but always find myself using my hands directly as the medium, guided purely by instinct and emotion. Surrounded by a whirlwind of discarded paint tubes, accompanied by the rhythmic melody of a familiar symphony echoing my inner turbulence, my art comes to life.

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M.B.: Your background in geology is quite unique for an artist. To what extent does your knowledge of geology influence your approach to painting? Do you draw inspiration from geological formations or processes in your artwork?

V.A.: Indeed, geology has been a profound gateway for me to immerse myself in the divine wonders of nature. The mesmerizing interplay of colors and shapes found in minerals has sparked a deep wellspring of inspiration for my artistic endeavors. Exploring the earth’s geological formations, from the rugged cliffs to the delicate crystalline structures, has enriched my understanding of the natural world and ignited my creativity. The intricate patterns and textures found within these geological marvels serve as a visual feast, fueling my imagination and driving my artistic vision.

M.B.: Being an Armenian artist living in the U.S., have you encountered any unique challenges or opportunities in your artistic career?

V.A.: As an Armenian artist living in the United States, my artistic journey is shaped by both challenges and opportunities arising from my cultural background intersecting with my creative pursuits. One challenge I face is balancing the authentic expression of my Armenian heritage with engaging with the diverse cultural landscape of my adopted home. This balancing act requires me to honor my roots while embracing the multicultural influences around me. The vibrant arts scene in the U.S. offers a myriad of platforms and resources for artists to showcase their work and engage with fellow creatives. This environment has provided me with opportunities to collaborate with artists from diverse backgrounds, participate in exhibitions and events, and connect with art enthusiasts who appreciate the unique perspective I bring to the table. However, being an Armenian artist in the U.S. also allows me to share my culture with a broader audience. Through my art, I celebrate Armenian traditions while fostering cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, serving as a bridge between different communities.

M.B.: How does your Armenian heritage influence your art, if at all? Do you incorporate elements of Armenian culture or history into your paintings?

V.A.: You can tell a lot about an artist by their painting. As for my own, I feel that my Armenian heritage does not scream but whispers in the very palette of colors I use. The rich textures unwittingly carry through my ancient culture, with its vibrant history and strong faith. lt is not a byproduct of my culture, but an instinct that brings it to life.

M.B.: You mentioned in one of your interviews that you came to the U.S. with only $27 in your pocket and with a flight ticket for the purchase of which you had to borrow money. As a foreigner, how easy or difficult was it for you to establish yourself and succeed in the American art scene?

V.A.: Establishing myself as an Armenian immigrant in the American art scene posed its challenges, but perseverance and dedication paved the way for success. Growing up in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, I excelled in both art and science. In 1991, with only $27 in my pocket, I moved to the United States to start a new life. Initially, I spoke no English, missed my family and was baffled by aspects of the country’s language, culture and traditions. I turned to painting to express my frustrations and innermost emotions. My dedication and hard work led me to succeed as an engineer and achieve financial security. Simultaneously, I’ve established myself as an internationally well-known artist. Now, I feel a sense of completeness and fulfillment, knowing that my dual passions have flourished and allowed me to make meaningful contributions both professionally and artistically. The trials and tribulations of everyday life have only spurred me to find strength and passion through my faith and my art.

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M.B.: Your artwork has gained recognition and been showcased in various prestigious locations around the world, including Paris and New York City. How does it feel to have your art appreciated on such an international scale, and how do different audiences react to your work in various parts of the world?

V.A.: I have earned international acclaim and participated in a variety of solo and group shows, biennales, galleries and museums in the United States, as well as in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Russia, Armenia, China, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Switzerland, Monaco…Having my artwork recognized and showcased in prestigious locations around the world is an incredibly gratifying experience. It’s a validation of the countless hours of dedication and passion I’ve poured into my art. To know that my art resonates with audiences on an international scale fills me with a profound sense of pride and accomplishment. The reactions to my work vary depending on the cultural context and the diverse perspectives of the audiences. In some parts of the world, viewers may be drawn to the vibrant colors and bold hand-strokes, while in others, they might connect with the deeper symbolism and emotional depth of my pieces. It’s fascinating to witness how different audiences interpret and appreciate my art through their own cultural lenses, enriching the dialogue surrounding my work. Overall, having my art appreciated on such an international scale is a humbling experience. It reminds me of the universal language of art that transcends borders and connects people from diverse backgrounds. It inspires me to continue pushing the boundaries of my creativity and exploring new avenues of expression that appeal to audiences around the world.

M.B.:  Selling art can be a challenging endeavor. How do you navigate the art market and promote your paintings to private and public collectors?

V.A.: Navigating the art market and promoting my paintings to private and public collectors indeed requires a careful strategic approach. I prioritize building and maintaining a strong online presence through my social media platforms. Additionally, I actively participate in art exhibitions, both locally and internationally, to increase visibility and exposure for my work. These events provide opportunities to network with collectors and gallery owners, fostering valuable relationships within the art community. I engage in personalized outreach efforts, reaching out to individual collectors and institutions who may have an affinity for my artistic style or thematic content. In addition to promoting my art through traditional channels, I also find great fulfillment in giving back to the community by donating my artwork to fundraising events. These charitable endeavors serve as an opportunity to support various organizations dedicated to helping children, the elderly and other causes close to my heart. I consider myself incredibly fortunate as an artist, witnessing the success of my work as it finds its rightful place in both private and public collections.

M.B.:  What is the best advice you have ever received, and what would be your own best advice to aspiring artists, especially those who are trying to make a name for themselves in the art world?

V.A.: The best advice I’ve ever received is to stay true to myself and my artistic vision, regardless of external pressures or trends. It’s essential to create art that resonates with me personally, as authenticity is what ultimately connects with audiences on a deeper level. For aspiring artists, especially those striving to make a name for themselves in the art world, my best advice would be to persevere and stay dedicated to their art. The road to success in the art world can be challenging and unpredictable, but consistency, passion and resilience are key. Embrace experimentation, continue to grow and evolve as an artist, and don’t be afraid to take risks and push boundaries. Additionally, building a strong network of connections within the art community and seeking out mentorship can provide invaluable support and guidance along the way. Above all, remember that success in the art world is subjective and multifaceted — focus on creating meaningful work that speaks to your unique voice and vision, and the recognition and opportunities will follow.

Milena Baghdasaryan

Milena Baghdasaryan

Milena Baghdasaryan is a graduate from UWC Changshu China. Since the age of 11, she has been writing articles for a local newspaper named Kanch ('Call'). At the age of 18, she published her first novel on Granish.org and created her own blog, Taghandi Hetqerov ('In the Pursuit of Talent')—a portal devoted to interviewing young and talented Armenians all around the world. Baghdasaryan considers storytelling, traveling and learning new languages to be critical in helping one explore the world, connect with others, and discover oneself. After completing her bachelor's degree in Film and New Media at New York University in Abu Dhabi, Milena is currently enrolled in an advanced Master of Arts program in European Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Europe in Natolin.

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