Narek is one of those people you come across on FB by accident, then check out their art, like a few things, and don’t send a friend request as at that point you’re only connecting with people you actually know. But then, a few months later, you wonder what is he doing? You go back, check out his most recent artwork and that very same thing that draws you back to his work feels the urge to find out more about this person.
For his very young age, Narek seems to have experimented with pretty much everything: collage, portrait, mixed media art, fantasy, self-reflection, the list can go on and on. But there’s something about his personae that is quite unsettling. Don't let his boyish looks deceive you: behind the seemingly calm face, one can spot a presence of his anxious mind (or alter ego) racing feverishly in search of self-expression and an outlet to pour out its true essence.
These two obviously have entered into an uneasy relationship where they exchange their dreams, secrets, and passions. And despite Narek's resistance to letting his alter ego to manifest itself, the latter takes over as the artist stands in front of a blank canvas. No matter what Narek does - he does it obsessively. He builds extensive bodies of work. His work style is impressive. His direction may not be clear in the very first canvas of each series, but don’t walk away from his work too quickly. Come back and check it out again. And the more you come back and look at it - the more it pulls you in.
How would you describe people's interest in modern art in Yerevan? Do people have time to appreciate art during the current politically active period in Armenia?
Narek: Commercially speaking there isn't such a profession as a painter in Yerevan. Those few that are left here are graphic designers, who make money with web and graphic design. There's a group of commercial painters, who paint and sell their art through galleries, such as Arame gallery. If you're outside the commercial circles, it's very hard to make money with art. Also, people seem to appreciate art in Armenia, but they don't buy it.
I came across your post on FB where you were complaining about the lack of activity from art critics, that they are not writing enough, not criticizing enough, not sharing in social media enough. How do you think this can be resolved?
Narek: There's an art critic, Yelena Aydinyan, who is trying to solve this issue by starting a movement of art criticism. Art criticism is not about trashing someone's work. It's about an honest study and analysis.
How do you motivate young people to attend museums?
Narek: It's a lack of marketing strategy on behalf of the museums, and, besides, people should feel themselves closer to art and the current format of art institutions and galleries is not accommodating that. One of the last shows I participated in was in such a space and done with such an interesting format, that people could get a drink in the space or dance. They could also touch the artworks.
Do you do fashion design? And when did you get into it?
Narek: I was offered to collaborate with "Dare to Wear" brand as a designer-painter and I do love fashion, but after a while, our collaboration fell through. Right now I just want people to stop associating me with that brand. Maybe one day I'll get back to the fashion world again.
At what age did you start painting?
Narek: I didn't start at early childhood, as most of the painters. At first, I went to Terlemezyan, later to Academy of Art. When all my friends were drafted for the army I was left behind, didn't make the cut, I guess. I was lonely and started painting. I would paint all the time. I don't think I was necessarily talented, but I am very hard working for sure. I love the process of painting, always loved it.
How do you get in a flow for painting? Does being in love help you create?
Narek: No, there's no special mood required for me to paint. I don't fall in love. I would rather say I get excited, but haven't been in love for long.
Do you have any favorite Armenian artists?
Narek: Artyom Manukyan, Aram Bajakian
Do you have a dream project to do in Armenia?
Narek: Yeah, along with a friend of mine we started so-called "street way bitcoins" mosaics and we would make mosaics in the manner of street art and would place them in various locations during the night. There was no political subtext. It was just for aesthetic pleasure and we loved working with the subject. We don't function as a team anymore, but I continue working on the street art project I started. I don't do it with mosaics as a lot of ideas were left unfinished.
Do you like what you do and do you have a favorite piece?
Narek: I love the painting at the moment I feel it is finished. However, I love the process of creating art more than the result.