In a bi-coastal collaboration, Betty Cuningham Gallery and L.A. Louver are pleased to present Charles Garabedian: Outside the Gates. Drawing from both galleries' long histories with the artist, this exhibition brings together two dozen paintings from the last three decades of Garabedian's life. The artist’s ability to tap into the collective unconscious renders the work timeless; while many of the figures may be familiar from myth, their staging speaks to our common lot as humans. With distinctive humor and pathos, Garabedian takes us on a trip as he moves toward finding himself in history, mythology, and by accident.
Garabedian embraced grand themes in his idiosyncratic and compelling body of work. Inspired by Armenian manuscripts, Biblical stories, and the epic poetry of ancient Greece, his iconoclastic approach to figuration breathes vibrant, pulsating life into these old tales. His works are populated with warriors and gods, bathing beauties and epic journeys. Abstractions lie unsettlingly at the edge of recognition, seeming to take on the unknowable logic of Olympus.
A hallmark of Garabedian’s style is his Mannerist approach to the body. Twisted and elongated figures lounge, bend, and stretch across his compositions. That nearly all of his figures from this period are nude reinforces a feeling of otherworldliness. He treats the body as something malleable, something that can be distorted or even truncated. For example, the painting Man in the Brick Wall features a fleeing figure, a brick bust, and a torso with legs but no upper half.
Most of the works are on paper, a material the artist embraced for its flexibility and fluidity. As his concepts developed, Garabedian affixed additional sheets to the original page in order to achieve his desired composition. This expansive narrative approach may be seen in works such as You Should have Looked at Me and Outside the Gates, and led to marked vertical and horizontal formatting which is evidenced too in the rare multi-canvas mural-scale painting Willie Snake. According to Garabedian, “I find the paper more liberating, it’s not as formal a concept. I like to think of it as more of a physical experience.”
See L.A. Louver's presentation of Charles Garabedian: Outside the Gates here.