This summer, the work of Paul Sarkisian will transform Albuquerque Museum's lobby.
Color, composition, texture, pattern, symbolism, and phenomenology: these are the basic elements of painting. In an artistic career spanning nearly 70 years, Paul Sarkisian has deeply investigated the complex alchemy of these elements. His work is invariably enlivened by fundamental creative tensions, elegantly if imperfectly resolved. More recent works like the meticulously crafted wooden "puzzle" paintings on view in the lobby embody these kinds of dialectics. They are simple and complex, direct yet coy, intimate but monumental, childish and sophisticated. In other words, they remind us that art's tendency, even its purpose, is to generate more questions than answers, more not-knowing than knowing.
These more recent works provide a wonderful contrast to the artist's paintings that seem all about answers and providing information through their meticulous, almost photographically "real" paintings from the 1970s and 1980s. From his monumental, life-sized, black and white paintings of buildings to his completely deceptive paintings of mundane scraps of paper, Sarkisian proves the power of continuous innovation, and the importance of mastery of technique before an artist can create masterpieces reflecting his vision.
Born in 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, Paul Sarkisian has lived and worked in New Mexico since the 1960s, where he remains one of its most influential and ambitious artists. Decade after decade, his work has remained innovative, ambitious, and relevant. From groundbreaking abstract expressionist works in the 1950s; quintessentially psychedelic, Pop Art paintings in the '60s; dense but austere mural-scale photorealist works in the '70s; scintillating, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink paintings and prints in the '80s and '90s; to his eye-popping painted wood constructions produced in this century - Paul Sarkisian continues (aged almost 90) to restlessly develop new forms and means of expression.