Sarkisian & Sarkisian at Orange County Museum of Art

Paul Sarkisian Sculpture

Paul Sarkisian, El Paso.

This exhibition unfurls a visual symphony of postmodern artworks in which two artists, a father named Paul Sarkisisn and his son Peter unfurl visual dialogues that linger in the mind’s eye, long after the viewer leaves the exhibition. Early-on, Paul studied at the Chicago Art Institute and then settled in the L.A. area during the late 1950’s where he presented work at the renown Ferrus gallery. 

One of his passions is the study and evocation of trompe l’oeil which he spins with the ease of a maestro. Standing as close as the guards would permit to his work entitled El Paso, the artistic allusion of standing in front of the Rios Shoe Shop was so convincing in person that I was tempted to open the door to a place left behind by time. Yet, the date of the work and its entire structure is charismatically a massive trompe l’oeil.  Art is, after all, art and not life though the two nearly fuse in this masterpiece.

Paul Sarkisian Sculpture

Paul Sarkisian, El Paso.

Peter Sarkisian, Paul’s son, takes his father’s “play” with artistic illusion into the digital age. He presents a myriad of sculptural video projections, a number of which appear to simultaneously include security tracking. One such work digitally showcases a man’s black show presented up-side down, revealing a large hole in the shoe’s sole. However, the hole has been ‘hilariously’ filled with the digital allusion of a single moving blue eye, which appears to stare back at the viewer in the gallery.  Given the nature of the digital age and of our reliance on security systems in public buildings, one cannot help but wonder in passing if that eye is simultaneously recording for security reasons, those viewers who come to engage with looking at this work.

Peter Sarkisian Sculpture

Peter Sarkisian, Morocco is There, 1996. Found shoe, paint, video projection, audio. 10 x 4 x 3 inches.

In another work entitled Book 1, Peter, with tongue in cheek presents himself as a modern day Lilliput scribe, working to edit and clarify entries in an English dictionary. One of the topics of this sculpture is the end of the bookish age, which had originally emerged in the Western medieval era. At that time, books were individually hand made. Thus, Peter here can be understood to reference the once sacrosanct value of the hand-made book –as a cousin of the handmade art object—in the era of Western culture that flourished from the medieval period to through the modern era. Indeed, the artist even presents us with his self-portrait in another sculptural/video work as a Lilliput sprawled atop a book working to edit the “dictionary” into modern parlance.  This simultaneously sad, yet hilarious, work that underscores the end of the bookish age, is presented on an old fashioned book stand  where one can watch the artist, “Peter the scribe,” working to clarify  and update the text to embrace the changes  that are in the wind. Sophisticated, humorous and deadly serious all at once, the Sarkisians are artists in tune with our time, addressing the shifting of cultural paradigms that are affecting our lives.

Peter Sarkisian Sculpture

Peter Sarkisian, Book, 2011. Found dictionary, powder coated steel and aluminum, video projection, audio. 26 x 16 x 13 inches.

By Collette Chattopadhyay

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