Interview with artist Anna Manukyan
My name is Anna. I am an abstract artist. I was born in Armenia in 1984. Art is in my blood, in my veins and soul. My father was an artist and I remember the smell of those paints, the play of the brush on the canvas from my childhood. My father had a great influence on my worldview, taught me to understand, to love, to live by art. I attended art school when I was a child. I remember painting all the time.
Art became an integral part of my life, my lifestyle and I decided to go to university to deepen my knowledge. During the five years of studying at the university, I simply enjoyed the breath of art, I discovered the colors of art within me and started to love the abstract from those years. Although I was painting in every style, the play of colors, the free movement of the brushstrokes, the expression of emotions through colors were just another world for me and I began to immerse myself in abstract art. During my student years and after graduating from university, I participated in many exhibitions. Then in 2015 my husband and I moved to the United States. New country added new colors to my paintings, new images. Everything was new and fresh. Here I also had some interesting exhibitions. It was really motivating to see the reaction and admiration of people in a foreign country. It was even more exciting when people purchased my work. And here began my second life in art.
I am inspired by nature, music, poetry, and all of these are mixed with my emotions and then the canvas is filled with the colors of my own soul.
I like the following words by Arshile Gorky. “Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes … Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.”
Hi, Anna! Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like? Do you just do art, or is art just part of the picture?
Anna: I am one of the lucky artists who was born in an artistic family. I inherited my love for painting from my father, he was an artist. My mother, despite being a doctor, loves and appreciates art very much. She was the one who introduced art in general. We often visited museums, exhibitions, theaters, concerts, read poetry, literature. I am happy that all that was present in my life. My brother is also an artist. The atmosphere of art surrounded me everywhere. I attended art school when I was a child. Then I studied, graduated from university (majoring in Art). The art became an integral part of my lifestyle. Although I love to paint, I can’t say that my day begins and ends with a painting. I also do 3D modeling. I am also a 3D jewelry designer. That’s why I paint mainly in the evenings after work.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Anna: I paint mainly in abstract style. In addition to the color diversion, you can see thematic images in my paintings as well. I mainly paint with acrylic, but sometimes I like to use different mediums: pastels, watercolors, pencils, ink. To make the picture more impressive, I use molding paste, crackle paste on the canvas. I like experimenting with different mediums and get new effects. In addition to painting on canvas, I also paint on silk and I create hand-made scarves: I paint on silk with permanent paints. The process of working with different mediums inspired me so much that I recently started painting with alcohol inks on yupo paper. I like that technique very much. I have plans to increase the size of the papers and to make a series with that technique.
What is the process from start to final artwork, do you envision it from the beginning or is it a different process? And how do you know when a work is finished?
Anna: All my paintings are born of inspiration. There must be something that will either cover or touch my inner world and when it matures, it will be represented over the canvas. The topics depend on my mood. Even knowing the subject in advance, I never imagine the final look of the painting, it is the most interesting part of my art. I don’t make any sketches in advance, everything starts from a white canvas. I like the process when I don’t know how my work will end. There is always music during the painting, it gives a different color and power to my paintings. I like to paint very quickly with large brush strokes with bright colors. No matter what happens inside me, there are always bright colors in my paintings. I finish my painting when I feel the color or more brushstrokes can aggravate or damage the painting. That’s when I finish the painting.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Anna: I have always been interested in different styles of painting. During my student years, I was very inspired by different artists, I took some ideas of them and mixed with my inner world to create paintings. Each picture was a new, unique style for me. There was a time when I was just obsessed with Cubism, and Picasso was perhaps my teacher.
In 2015 I moved to the United States. Everyday life forced me to express myself through my feelings and express my inner world. It can be said that my style of painting was formed right here in the USA. I want people to see and feel in my paintings something dear to them, feelings, colors, to pass my paintings through their inner prism.
Your father was an artist as well. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from him?
Anna: Yes, my father was an artist, I just inherited my love for art. He taught me to see and appreciate the beauty in everything, even in strange and unfair life. I remember his words when he said: “It is very easy to lose, it is difficult to keep.” We painted together a lot, he was my first teacher. When my father passed away, I had just graduated from university, I can’t explain my feelings, they were very deep. After his death, I stopped painting on canvas for about 4-5 years. However, for a while, I started painting on the silk (batik) and create 3D jewelry models. A few years later, when I met my current husband, something awoke in me, nothing was lost, it was just temporarily asleep inside. He inspired me and new paintings started to be created again.
You’ve recently moved from Armenia to the United States. Has moving from one place to another influenced your art? And if yes, how would you say your new surroundings have influenced your work?
Anna: When we moved from Armenia to the United States, everything was new and unusual. We had to start a new life, start everything from scratch. Naturally, everything new gave a new color and shade to life.
My worldview changed, I started to communicate with people of different nationalities; naturally, my palette also changed, giving new style and colors to my paintings. Here I found the style that I had been trying to find in Armenia for years. But the interesting thing is that I am constantly trying to find new materials, new equipment, new workstyle, I don’t like to tap in the same place. I like changes.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
Anna: There are many artists who have had a great impact on me, both with their paintings and their lives. I will mention Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Amedeo Modigliani, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso. Pablo Picasso had a great influence on my painting. I like his paintings of different periods, he was constantly changing his style.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork?
Anna: I am inspired by life in general, from every day I live, which, as it develops, fills the canvas with colors in me. Life itself is wonderful, no matter how unfair or strange it may be. Nature is already a miracle in itself, the sun that warms it, and why not, it gives people hope that tomorrow will definitely be better.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Anna: Fortunately, I managed to participate in several exhibitions before COVID-19; one exhibition, which was supposed to take place in March, was canceled due to the virus. I wanted to have my solo exhibition, which was in my plans for July, but I also had to postpone it because of the virus. I hope we will return to our normal routine soon, all the plans will be implemented.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Anna: My art is my unique world, and the way I see and perceive the world with my own eyes. It is a therapy of the soul for me. I want people just know and discover my inner world through my paintings.
What are you currently working on, and what is next for you?
Anna: For the nearest future, I would like to have my personal exhibition, for which I have been preparing for a long time. I recently opened my online shop www.paletteboutique.com, where people can get my paintings. This is the website, where my works will be added regularly.