At first glance, many of Kevork Cholakian's paintings look like photographs. The Los Angeles-based artist works in both painting and sculpture to create still lifes that mirror reality, while somehow eschewing it at the same time.
This month, a selection of Cholakian's paintings and sculptures will be on view in "Look Closer" at Gallery J2 in North Scottsdale.
We wanted to get a better feel for the artist's work and process, so we asked him to answer some questions via e-mail.
Fruits and vegetables feature prominently in the work of your upcoming show. What draws you to this subject? Most of my subjects contain fruits and vegetables for their aesthetic sometimes symbolic nature. I look for unusual colors and patterns that offer interesting visuals. Imperfection is perfection to me. I focus on bringing this out in my work. Portraying my subjects larger than life to emphasize the details.
Can you describe your artistic process a bit? Do you physically set up still lifes in space before you begin working on a piece? All my work is set up in front of me at some point during the painting process. Since I paint perishables I usually work out my compositions first and block in layers of color first. Then move to details and and background sections. The final details in the fruit or wood may come from many other pieces. I pick and choose details I like and incorporate them together. A pear may be a culmination of seven other pears. Sometimes I find one subject that has all the imperfections I am looking for.
What's it like working in two different media? Do you feel like you use ceramics to achieve one thing and painting to achieve another, or are you working towards something similar in both cases? I am working toward something similar in both mediums by offering different points of view. My paintings present a single vantage point. You can't look beyond the frame or behind the objects. So i play with that and hide things in plain site for you to discover. My sculpture offers a 3 dimensional view and presents multiple vantage points to look closer and maybe discover something that you didn't notice. A 3D version of my paintings.
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Does your broadcast television/graphic design background influence your work at all? Yes, definitely. In broadcast the design is essential in communication. The design needs to be simple, clear and impactful to read in the short amount of time and stand out among all the other noise. My background influences my choice of color and composition. I only include what I think is essential to the work.
Where do you find your inspiration as an artist? As cliche as it might sound, everywhere. All around me.
"Look Closer" opens Wednesday, October 23, at Gallery J2. A reception will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. The work will be on display through Wednesday, Decemeber 4. For more information, visit the gallery's website.