October/November 2006 Art New England
Regional Review


Myths:Paintings by Samuel Gareginyan
by Doug Norris

Something childlike and folkloric in Samuel Gareginyan's paintings. Filled with oddball details and offbeat characters, the images betray a winsome personality, a wild streak of humor, and an eye for the unusual, likely honed during the artist's Armenian childhood.

The paintings exude a harmony of form and color, while the suggestion of tales unfolding on canvas keeps the viewer curious and coming back to see what might have been missed the first time. Fairy-tale motifs are expressed lyrically in a balance of shapes - turrets and windows, castles and towers - as characters with oversized heads and lavish costumes take on a theatrical appearance in scenes that are alternately whimsical and grotesque.

In Hobby-Horse, a traveler dressed in the brightly colored clothes of a minstrel approaches a walled city on his rocking horse. Dialog, a jarring work, depicts a conversation between a blind man and a parrot like bird with a human face. Mythology is directly referenced in works like Reclining Faun, and themes of leisure, pleasure, and passion predominate, as vividly portrayed in the painting At Cards.

Some works seem pulled directly from the theater of dream sleep. In Zoomer Fish, the primary symbol is a giant, piranha like red fish swimming in a blue pool surrounded by a doughnut-shaped community of clustered and isolated towers and buildings. A blue field of edgeless water and sky envelops the ringed world. From a satellite village on the edge of the ring, a dark figure rises on a ladder like structure against the bright spotlight of a giant full moon.

Inventive, playful, exotic, and shimmering with vibrancy and color, Gareginyan's characters and scenes echo the works of Chagall in their exultation of the living mythology that exists wherever there are shadows, sunshine, and starlight.