Affordable Art Fair Artist Spotlight: Suren Nersisyan

Here at UGallery, we love this time of year. Flowers are blooming, Girl Scouts are testing our New Year’s resolutions and we’re prepping ‘round the clock for our annual pilgrimage to the Affordable Art Fair in New York City.

Each year we bring a select few artists to exhibit in the UGallery booth. This year we’ve chosen 8 artists, 4 newbies and 4 veterans of AAF. We are very excited for you to get to know them and their work!

Say barev (that’s hello in Armenian) to Suren Nersisyan. You can find more of Suren’s work on UGallery. 

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Suren Nersisyan approaches painting like a pianist approaches music; he uses colors and shapes to develop a harmony on canvas. His expressive brushstrokes and thick textures infuse a vibrant energy into each piece. While Suren prefers to work en plein air, he never paints exactly what he sees. Instead, he depicts how the scene makes him feel. Suren believes in a universal interconnectedness. “Buildings, humans, rivers, oceans are all part of nature and should coexist together in harmony.”

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Brooklyn Bridge (Violet Shadows)

What is special about your technique?

I like expressive brushstrokes with thick textures. To me they both keep the energy of painting and develop some visual motion for the eyes. In my technique there are no borders, no rules. It is all about how strong I feel about the subject and how I can reach harmony using contrast and motion. I am always trying to figure out how to show the beauty and aesthetics of a particular subject while developing the composition in a unique way. Each brushstroke, each color is energy. I feel I approach painting like a piano player approaches music; I take colors and shapes and develop my own harmony with them on the canvas.

Do you paint from photos? If so, do you take them yourself? 

Most of the time I paint from real life, using the plein aire technique.  After the initial session, I may work on the same piece over and over based on my memory and sketches. If the weather conditions are bad or time is short, I may take photos in order to help my memory later. I never paint exactly what I see, I enhance the composition with my impressions, so photos only help me to memorize general shapes and colors. I always incorporate how the scene makes me feel. I often break perspective and explore new color combinations that are different from an exact reproduction of the scene. Everything that I paint is filtered through the prism of my feelings and the aesthetic quality of an artwork is its most important part. That is what inspires me most of all.

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Late Summer in Los Angeles (Hollywood)

Do you prefer to paint cityscapes or nature?
I love nature. I don’t think about a city as something segregated from nature. Much of recent environmental and youth movements have involved people trying to bring nature back in to the big cities. That is also what I try to do with my paintings. Buildings, humans, rivers, oceans are all part of nature and should coexist together in harmony. I can paint a portrait, skyscrapers, or some wild fields in bloom and my paintings are not about only the subject. They are about color, harmony, and beauty all together.

You’re originally from Armenia. When did you move to the US? Why? What are differences you’ve noticed?

American society is very different than in Armenia. Armenian society is very traditional and accepts changes slowly; sometimes it is very hard to change anything there. In the US people are always exploring something new. I have a feeling that life here flies faster. After teaching fine arts for 12 years at the university level back in Armenia, I just wanted to explore the world and learn while expanding my horizon. I came here as a student and it was a good starting point for me to explore a new society. It took me a long time until I started to paint in the USA. I first had to explore the life, nature, and the cities for myself. Only then do you understand your role and how as an artist you should react.

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Snowing in Georgetown

When did you start painting?

I haven’t stopped painting since I was three years old. I went to art school, then university, and then even my PHD was about fine arts. I have also worked in digital art, book illustration, and even sculpture. Most of all I have found that color is something which helps me to express my feelings, thoughts, and senses. I’ve studied art history, aesthetics, and philosophy, and this has helped me to develop my point of view to the world, understand modern times and find values that are not just temporary. Through my art, I try to find values, which are eternal.

How have you academic degrees affected your art?

Years and years of academic painting, art history, philosophy and teaching fine arts helped me to shape my perspective. I understand what I should do and how I can ask something of arts.

The Affordable Art Fair is held at the Metropolitan Pavilion from March 25 to 29th. Pop by if you’re in New York! (we’re booth 1.2)

You can shop a sneak peek of our Fair Collection here.