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Artists portraits and tales of Gyumri life
In this section you will find stories that the Luys team collected while in Gyumri. Those are stories about the people of Gyumri, about the daily life of inhabitants and the hidden side of the city.
The goal of the ArtScope festival was to give an insight into what Gyumri's artists have to offer. Similarly, this "Interesting Stories" section aims at giving an idea of the city, but it is by no means exhaustive.
Many of those "Interesting Stories" focus on the art life of the city.
Gevorg Sargsyan “Djala”
At a young age, Gevorg’s football skills got him a nickname he now uses as an artist alias: Djala. Born in Gyumri, Djala works with paper but also installations, collage, graffiti.
For more than a decade now, his work has been focused on signs and “stone memory”. He takes his inspiration from writings on walls, witnesses of passerby throughout time. His art transmits this stone memory; he actually creates the paper itself, boiling egg boxes to obtain this ancient-looking stone-like paper, on which he plays with signs and symbols.
The signs on his paintings are sometimes Armenian, but he is inspired by the whole world: Latin America, Egypt, ancient languages, Greek and Latin. Djala’s paintings were exposed around the world, in Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, in Egypt and in France. Recently his work was exposed in Dalan Art gallery in Yerevan.
Djala divides his time between teaching and creating art in his studio.
You can admire Djala’s work at the Berlin Art Hotel in Gyumri, which exposes many of his artworks both in the exhibition hall and in the guest rooms.
If you meet him he will be keen on discussing art maters with you over a drink, and he might even take you to his art workshop to show you his work and protocol.
You can find his bio on the Berlin Art Hotel website.
On the next page you will find Levon Fljian's artist portrait.
Levon Fljyan is an artist from Gyumri who participated in the ArtScope festival. I met him to discuss his own work and get his impressions on the artist life in Gyumri.
Although he is just 28, Levon has been active in Gyumri’s art scene since 2001, exposing his artworks and participating in exhibitions. For him, the actions define the artist, not the diploma, and he did not wait until graduation from the State Art Academy to expose his work. While at the Academy, most of the subjects focused on classical art and techniques, Levon educated himself to gain deeper knowledge on the current art scene.
Life art 2004
Paper, mixed technique
It is challenging to define Levon’s art; he admitted to being not enthusiastic about describing himself and his work with labels such as plastic, or contemporary. “I’m just an artist”, he says, and hinted that it was in fact my job to describe his work and convey his ideas without vocabulary cluttering the true meaning.
Creation is about the interaction between form (material) and ideas. Inspiration comes from many different places in Levon’s everyday life; reading, discussing, and looking around. Sometimes a street corner or an article on the Internet will trigger an idea, and the material needed naturally stems from this first inspiration. When you look into his portfolio, you will notice that Levon works with multiple formats; paper, canvas, oil, installations, multimedia art... But his art is truly about the topic: the topic inspires him, and then he elaborates on it with different materials. Most of the time. Levon also highlighted that by playing with the material, with the tools, you not only get better at using them, but act in a meditation process. As Levon puts it, “sometimes, form will give the idea”.
“Relation” is one of the many themes Levon likes to explore. Some of his most recent works focus on relations between people and artwork, between humans, between humans and technology, and also the relation to oneself.
Paper on foam rubber, mixed technique
That being said, there is no topic Levon is not interested in. For example, although he is not very fond of still life, he still took inspiration from it in his artwork « Life life », mixing the codes of classical painting with contemporary art.
Our future 2006
Cardboard, mixed technique
For Levon, the best thing about being an artist is being able to share ideas with the audience, and to feel free to create and express anything. There is no more ideology in art, he says: artists can work on any topic, the only limits being the ones they set for themselves.
Paper, mixed technique
I asked him about the most challenging part of being an artist in Gyumri, and his answer was not related to creation, but the aspects surrounding it: supporting oneself, exposing one’s art, finding the funding, the exhibitions and galleries.
Levon thinks of Gyumri as a good city for the arts in Armenia, possibly the best, or “at least” equal to Yerevan. As far as art is concerned, Gyumri has all it needs: the artists, the creativity, the galleries, and the events. But for Levon, we could do far more than this. It would help Gyumri to have a government organization dedicated to the arts, for example. Although there are a few foundations, both the institutional framework and the funding are needed if Gyumri wants to define itself as a cultural center.
Post industrial realities: Gyumri/Bytom 2011
It seems that the economic problems of Gyumri are still holding the city back in many aspects, including the arts. In Levon’s analysis, Gyumri does have art, but what is dramatically lacking at the moment is work for the people. It is obvious that every city benefits from a good economy; but I thought Levon’s viewpoint was particularly interesting. “If the people of Gyumri had work, they would not only have money. They would have actual leisure time, free from economic worries, and would be able to benefit from and participate more in Gyumri’s art life.”
Levon’s art is permanently exhibited at the Berlin Art Hotel in Gyumri. You can find out more about his art here: