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Ashot Asratyan is an independent artist that distances himself from any art groups or unions. He lives and works in Moscow. In 1971, he graduated from the Moscow State University as a particle physicist. Ashot is a self-taught painter that never attended any art school, and is happy with it: he says that a teacher always imposes his personal concepts and usually trains a pupil to paint a little bit worse than himself.
Starting with figurative black-and-white painting using black ink and gouache on paper, he then produced a big nonfigurative series using mixed techniques (collage and black gouache on paper). His first lessons in oil painting, which also were the last ones, Ashot Asratyan took from his friends and colleagues Andrey Thal and Nikolai Chulkov, pupils of the eminent neo-Cezannist master Vladimir Weisberg. In fact, Ashot believes that a painter should be only taught to properly wash the brushes and to correctly prime the canvas or masonite. Genetically, Ashot Asratyan's oil paintings rely on the principles of post-war abstract expressionism, and he names Mark Rothko, Nicolas De Stael, Arshile Gorky (Vostanik Adoyan), and Hans Hoffman as his great teachers. (Note however that he dubs as “abstract” the chaotic brushwork of some contemporary masters, and rather prefers to call his own paintings “nonfigurative”.) Like De Stael and Diebenkorn, Ashot sees no watershed between the representational and nonfigurative art: he believes that even old masters viewed real-life objects as no more than visual pretexts for creating a new reality. At the same time he reminds that from prehistoric times, nonfigurative art coexisted with representation in the form of abstract ornament. With his work, Ashot Asratyan tries to demonstrate that traditional painting, from neo-Cezannism to representational and nonfigurative expressionism, still offers a valid and robust alternative to the fruitless conceptualist “zaum” and to the gleeful post-modernist “roadside picnic”.
Previously, Ashot Asratyan exhibited his works at the Scientists' Club of the Troitsk research center near Moscow in 1979 and 1980 (with A. Thal, N. Chulkov, and S Tivetsky), at the Moscow Literary Institute in 1981 (with A. Thal), at the Scientists' Club of the Yerevan Physics Institute in 1982 (with A. Thal), in a large abandoned communal apartment on Arbat street in Moscow in 1985 (with A. Thal and N. Chulkov), in the Nagornaya art gallery in 1989 (with A. Thal and N. Chulkov), at the Moscow Scientists' Club in 2010 (one-man show), and at the Moscow International University in 2015 (one-man show).
At this exhibition in the “Fine Art” Gallery, Ashot Asratyan shows paintings from the “Dichotomies”, “Trees”, and “Birds” series (2012--2019), as well some earlier works. A.A.