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Kamo Nigarian: Schizopolis Exhibition Opens at CCA

September 19, 2015
The private opening of the exhibition Kamo Nigarian: Schizopolis was held at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts (CCA) on September 18. 

The relationship between power and madness is the uniting theme of the seventeen works by Kamo Nigarian (1950-2011) assembled in this exhibition for the first time. Surveying his artistic development between the 1980s and the 2000s, Schizopolis reveals Nigarian as one of the key anti-establishment figures of late 20th century Armenian art.

Born in Helendorf (Gardmank region of historical Armenia, presently in Azerbaijan) into a family of intellectuals in 1950, Nigarian graduated from the department of design at Yerevan’s Institute of Fine Arts and Theatre in 1973. Working as a designer throughout his career, Nigarian created an extensive group of theatrical, exhibition, film posters and seven museum expositions which are of exemplary importance in the history of Armenian design. Prominent in the Armenian underground art scene, Nigarian was instrumental in organising performances and non-conformist exhibitions, such as the 1982 Happening. From 1980 onwards, he increasingly concentrated on painting and photography, creating a provocative body of work, which took a highly critical stance toward the ideologies of the state and mass culture. 

“As a dissident artist who emerged during the last decade of the Soviet regime in Armenia, Nigarian was deeply concerned about the stifling of individual freedom and will within a homogenous society and the global economy. Whether working in poster and installation design, or painting and photography, Nigarian reflected on the current state of humanity as one mired in profound fear, paradox and apathy. Deriving his ideas from philosophy, psychoanalysis, anthropology, economic theory and even sci-fi literature, he attempted to expose the underlying horror of societal, moral and political structures which turned power into a commodity and a tool for control. 

Nigaryan’s bold experimentations with legacies of expressionism, surrealism and pop-art were also a means to project his anxiety about the crisis of modern civilization. Here, history and contemporary life exist in the same space as a spectacle, constantly resuscitating the systems that lead to orthodoxy, war and chaos. Like a chamber of horrors, Schizopolis invites us to look at this “negative” exposure of reality and contemplate the unconscious madness implanted in our everyday existence” - said the curator of the exhibition Vigen Galstyan. 

“The Cafesjian Center for the Arts is pleased to present the work of one of the key figures of late Soviet non-conformist art as part of the Center’s 2015 exhibition programming. The exhibition, Kamo Nigarian: Schizopolis, brings together a selection of rarely-seen works from the artist’s thematic series, as well as his iconic death-mask installation from the S. Merkurov Museum, offering a new view of Nigarian’s prolific artistic heritage and intellectual depth ” - said the Acting Executive Director of CCA Vahagn Marabyan. 

The exhibition will be on view from September 18 through December 20, 2015. Admission will be free on September 19 and 20.
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