press release

Exhibition Opening Sunday February 8th, 2009 Gallery talk 4:00pm with reception to follow

The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the exhibition opening of the museum's Artist-in-Residence, Karen Sargsyan, on Sunday February 8th, 2009. There will be a gallery talk at 4:00 pm with a reception to follow. Sargsyan is an Armenian artist residing in Holland and the recipient of the prestigious 2008 Thieme Award for the most promising new artist. He is known for creating elaborate figurative installations using paper. The artist began a three-month residency in October 2008, during which he has worked at the Hat Factory in Peekskill to produce his new installation "Abroad Understanding" for HVCCA's mezzanine gallery.

"Abroad Understanding" Is a room size installation that tells the story of an overthrown king. Like actors on a theater's stage, Sargsyan's life-size figurative sculptures depict a theatrical scene of politics and power. The paper figures are symbolically arranged in contorted poses, highly suggestive of dance movements frozen in time and reminiscent of classic Baroque sculpture and dramatic gestures to provide energy and movement to a work. In the center of the installation sits an anonymous King on the floor, leaning up against his throne, dying, flanked by his once loyal and devoted subjects. The clothes hang in layers around their bodies, appear frayed, and eaten away. They might be costumes from long-gone ages, with puffy balloon trousers and sleeves, high rolled collars, head ornaments, frilled skirts, capes and loose, draped pieces of fabric. The images are part of a broader narrative in which the expressions stamped on the faces of the participants emote feelings of pain, of bacchanalian delight, of ecstasy. The viewer is drawn not so much into the narrative as into the pathos of the interrelationships as well as the solitariness of the human condition.

For Sargsyan, this existentialist search for the true and good core of humanity is fundamental, and god and man (the large and small figures) are two sides of the same coin. "I look at the influences that affect people the same way that I look at a theatrical production," says Sargsyan. "I want my work to reflect this play or game, but I also want to show the reduction and the purification. My work is not a static image. It shows an active process that expresses this 'cleaning up' My installations are a play in which the protagonists try to wipe 'the factories' off the playing field, as if the protagonists were holy beings in a theatrical production."

Karen Sargsyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia in 1973 and currently lives and works in Amsterdam. He studied at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten/Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Amsterdam, NL in 2006-2007 and Atelier Winston Huisman, Arnhem, NL in 1999-2001. In 2007 he received the Thieme Art Award and a fellowship with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs/DCO/IC, NL in 2006. Recent 2008 solo exhibitions include 'The Theory of Art', Buro Leeuwarden, Leeuwarden, NL, and Suzie Q Projects, Bob van Orsow Gallery, Zurich, SW. Upcoming 2009 exhibitions include a group exhibition at The Museum of Arts and Design, New York and 'Stressed Shelter' at KW14, s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Karen is represented by Galerie Juli├Ętte Jongma in Amsterdam.

This exhibition was made possible by generous support from The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB).

Karen Sargsyan
"Abroad Understanding"
HVCCA Artist-in-Residence Fall 2008