Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1951

  • Vahan Tekeyan Elementary School, 1954-1962
  • Tarouhi Hagopian High School, 1962-1969
  • Conservatoire Du Liban, 1967-1969 (vocal training)
  • Beirut University College, 1973-1974 (fashion design)
  • U.C.L.A. 1979-1981 Extension courses in Fine Art
  • Otis/Parsons Art Institute of Design, B.A in Fine Art, 1981-1985

Artist's Statement

What is art for me...

I am an Armenian-Lebanese-American ‘outsider’, ‘local’ in a state called California  for 34 years. A cradle that absorbs a kaleidoscope of people from around the world. Friendly but detached monster in motion, constantly changing.
To me Art is the magic web of life-death and rebirth.

For almost 30 years, painting has become habit-forming drug that I am addicted, and will use every moment of my life.

In my physical and mental journeys of different lives, selves, evolution & styles I bring to the present:

  • The art of the prehistoric rock carvings, from where I singled out mainly the human forms and produced graphic paintings by giving them a new life of ‘rock’y  interpretations.
  • The art of my ancestral land from 4th century to 19th century jewels -The Illuminated Manuscripts - that have been ignored by the world art. Instead of copying in miniature form (as was the habit at the time, since printing was not invented) I worked in enlarged format and a style that has become my own. Specially the Ornate initials that give me artistic orgasms. I created letters that were non existent in the manuscripts and recreating and multiplying  the existing ones. Though “The painstaking art of illumination” is a giant thief that has stolen the years of the artists in the past, I personally lived the stolen years of my life with this art.
  • An art that has no national boundaries:
    • Paintings that are expressions of my personal historical time and space. Specially the “homeless”,  a condition of a minority turning into majority without voice.
    • Paintings that are expressions of trauma that I have gone through at an early age living in refugee camps, a condition that still exists everywhere, ignored by ‘closeted blind minority’. Which In my paintings manifest with heads and faces.
    • Paintings that deal with crucifixions of women. They are not mockeries of Christian religion but the plight of what a girl goes through from young age to maturity in more than half of the population of the world and in so called advanced societies. Instead of having scars on their palms and feet, they have them in their guts.
    • Paintings that I enjoy painting. “one with nature” combinations of nature, sea life, animals, shells and specially women in webs. Webs that we weave.
  • When I paint I never try to:
    • create an artwork pleasing to people.
    • I don’t belong in any movement, theories, categorization, groups or isms. Because I am living in a time where all of them are in. And, naturally I have stepped on the ladder that was formed by all. I have all in me. and will be compared to any, as all contemporary artists are, because the gaze of all the giant masters are always watching.
    • I have not indulged myself in the “absurd market” of disgusting commercialism dominated by the “art scene”. Because once you are recognized, and succeed with ‘a style’, you have to do imitations of imitations of imitations of the particular style, endless variations of the same theme, until you are suffocated of whoring and producing masturbatory, boring repetitions of paintings for ‘money-corruption’.
    • I don’t believe in ‘quick art’, that has become the “high art” of so called ‘cognizanty’.   Painting is a process that has to be produced slowly, painstakingly, thoughtfully, lovingly.
    • Paintings are like children you have, they have to be different, like leaves sprouting from the same tree.
    • Though the spectator, the viewer, the collector is as important as the art-making, with my paintings I don’t intend to make them relaxed, rested, uplifted, anxious. I don’t try to shock anyone.
    • I don’t believe in art critics/arbiters, they are good writers who explain paintings by superfluous interpretations, sometimes they do good, but most of the time they pervert the taste of the masses towards robotic taste and response.

The muses of my painting are ancient and new, dusty, naturalistic, unstable, changing, humanistic art of life.
My daily life turned inward and outward. A balance between ugliness and beauty, fragments of real and surreal world.

In my art ‘more is more’, than ‘less is more’, I want to relate to both art and life through this silent-static-window-stage-drama-illusion-my immortal time-the sad and happy music of my eyes.
My art is me, indefinable, multiple, variable. It stands on it’s own as a body of Art, Individual works are it’s limbs.


By  Dr. Garabed Belian, 1996

A versatile artist, with diverse talents, working in oils, acrylics, gouache and mixed media.
Her works are images drawn from her heritage, history, myth and legend where she fully explores the mysteries of her subconscious mind. These images often have a plurality of meaning and her work reveals her sense of humor with so many illusionistic inconsistencies and contrasting logic, that it can be often interpreted as an unpleasant dream. In reality, these are reflections of her heritage.

Seeroon interprets her dreams, concerns, ambitions and aspirations, as well as all her emotions in a poetic content. Thus, she captures the poetry of dreams rendering them in figurative and narrative form, often with a randomness of fantasy. She believes in an enchanted inner vision and her subject matter comprises allegories of life and death.
The artist manipulates the pictorial elements in her work to intensify psychological content and favors forms based on the imagery of the unrestrained subconscious.

While she has expressed her thoughts and emotions in dream like images, her work indicates that she believes art should be based on sensory experiences rather than on lifeless imitations of visual reality.

Her art defies all categorization as she is involved in many modern artistic movements, often her work has an emotional intensity that ranges from deep melancholy to painful discordance to a kind of ecstatically restorative jubilation, extending from shrieking figures, disturbed and emotionally charged images to more serene depictions of decorative and colorful representations of the Illuminated ornate initial of the Armenian Alphabet.
She has extended her pictorial vocabulary to Biblical themes ‘Biblical women’ 1994, Episodes taken from ancient manuscripts, ‘Portal’ 1995, ‘The Garden of Eden’ 1992,  ‘Khatchkars’ 1996, Reflection on religion, History, National treasures, suggesting serene joys and patriotic virtues.

Seeroon has the ability to use long-established traditions with freshness, individuality and intelligence.
Some of her images, such as ‘Day & Night’ 1994, recall medieval works of art, with an elaborate and complicated iconography – similar to her Madonnas. These formal creations are open to multiple interpretations leading to the symbolic unexplained machinations of fate, where her violation and distortion of the human figure reflects the destruction and torture found in our society.

Seeroon is interested not in capturing reality but in the presentation of visual metaphors. The male figure in ‘Eternity’ 1990, exhibits his superhuman strength acting as a cross to a helpless figure as if crucified unto his body, essentially a modern variant to crucifixion, a baroque allegory.

Similarly in ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’, ‘Transposed’, C’est la Vie’ all of 1994, where the artist combines different images in her composition, recalling Robert Rauschenberg, an important Proto-Pop artist, except that unlike Rauschenberg most of her images are related and dissolve into logical relationships: The crucified figure, dangling feet, prostrate forms, all elements are not put together with wit and charm, but create shock and surprise. The overall effect creates a reality that dwells deep within the human spirit where the effect could be shocking and even devastating.
A sense of antiquity emanates from many of her compositions, like ‘Belle Laide’, ‘Enfants Perdus’, both 1994 which seem scarred and cracked with the effects of time.

Her subjects can be gay or gloomy, like her Madonnas, her figures are lost in a luminous mist, web-like barriers or partially covered by organic and plant elements, & although they retain a humanized rhythm with a sympathetic unity binding together figures, movement and feeling.

The faceless figures, again like the Madonnas, denote loss of identity, stressing inner states, inner tensions and sensations irrespective of external forms. Her work demonstrates a fascination with metaphysical symbolism, expressed in a witty and visually seductive manner. She depicts her Madonnas like other images as a metaphor for passionate human emotions, human suffering, social injustice.

The artist has altered her subject matter and experimented with different themes throughout her artistic career, reflecting her emotional climate dominating her vision at any given time. Looking at ‘The Mask’ of 1988, supported by delicate fingerlike projections. Is it truly a mask covering the face? Here, possibly the mask represents a delusion where a different character is presented to the world. Painted on neutral background time and place are non existent, male and female are indistinguishable. Composed with great deliberation, The Mask is a symbolic representation of a person lost to all surrounding influences, where the empty eye sockets hint to the probability of living sight emerging, looking beyond to the future as the eyes of destiny. Here, the artist has manipulated the pictorial elements in her work to intensify psychological content.

Many of Seeroon’s paintings recapitulate themes she must have been long obsessed with the precarious existence of her ancestors throughout the ages. A representative example is ‘The Echo’ 1983. Three figures with mask like quality and elongated  necks, create a strangely intense and morbid physical quality. The surface textures, luminous, are wrinkled and even tortured in character. These three human specimens who are so ruthlessly revealed in her work are ravaged by physical exhaustion and have exceeded the limits of human endurance.

‘The Echo’ emotionally compelling, is painted with great vigor. Here, she resorts to an alarming liberation of gesture and directness of stroke, although respecting the general outline of her characters she has omitted all detail.
The influence of Edward Munch and the German Expressionists is evident where she emphasized heightened emotion and stress, pathos, violence, suffering and rage, portrayed by the artist’s subjective vision.

Even more emotionally compelling are such dramatic paintings as ‘The War Lord’ 1985, where Seeroon depicts dying humans, decapitated heads, mounds of human skulls.

‘The Academy’ 1985, the inhuman annihilation of the Armenian intelligentsia.
‘The Chorus’ 1987, the silent and unheeded shriek of the dead.
In these works, as in ‘The Echo’ and other similar compositions, Seeroon portrays symbolic representation of Genocide, murder and human injustice. Here, the ravages of decay and death are depicted with horrifying intensity.

With delicate touch, Seeroon can produce graceful images which suggest ethereal quality of drawings. The ‘Black Clouds’ 1992 represents two figures in a landscape, two human beings with loss of individuality, the reduction of organic existence to its dissolving essences. Here the artist has rendered a witty statement, in an erect posture there is a parallelism with the tree where the figures are not different from the inert tree. Again, time and place are non-existent, male and female are indistinguishable, immobile, made for eternity, they recall Greek sculptures of the classical era. This is the essence of human beings lost to all surrounding influences, and ephemeral existence where the two dehumanized figures have lost their identity. Artistically elegant, with delicate outlines, parallelism of lines and curves. These simple forms of the figures in a landscape evoke a sense of the unity of man and nature. The muted greens of the gently rolling hills of an imaginary landscape beyond, create a magical and charming ambiance.
In many instances Seeroon’s forms are highly simplified even in a complex composition as ‘The Human Jungle’ 1994. It is the story of mankind, the human drama since the creation of man. The artist has designed human forms engaged in all kinds of activities presented with a lush richness that seems to probe intimately into the innermost recesses of physical existence, expressed in a highly personal character. The human drama recounted in fantasy, recalls the works of Arshile Gorky in concept, composition and coloring.

In ‘The Human Jungle’ Seeroon has created a fin-de ciecle world in which evolutionary logic has run wild, where depictions of pliant cartoonish figures are going about their decidedly mundane daily tasks or desires. The painting demonstrates a fascination with metaphysical symbolism, expressed in a witty and visually seductive manner. Such images can perhaps be seen as metaphors for the artist’s own contradictory creative psychology.

Seeroon Yeretzian was born in Beirut, Lebanon where she studied at Beirut University College, in Fashion Design 1972-74, Vocal Training Conservatoire Du Liban 1967-70, she moved with her family to The United States in 1976. From 1978-81 she took extensive courses at U.C.L.A, and she received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art in 1985 from Otis/Parsons Art Institute and School of Design in California.

She has been painting in different media since, and has exhibited extensively in Solo and Group shown in California.
Seeroon’s diverse artistic talents include graphic design and illustrations. She has produced the most popular Armenian poster in existence, ‘The Splendor of Aypupen’, and the equally successful collection of Armenian Custom Cards.

‘The Petrified Civilization’ 1995 and similar works are images of figures, signs and symbols from ancient rock carvings abounding in The Motherland, assembled and composed by the artist with great charm, humor and playful fantasy.
In addition to her emotionally charged psychological images Seeroon has devoted her energy to the heritage of the Armenian culture, recording historical literary and religious episodes.

In the series entitled ‘The way we were’ we encounter the poetic and nostalgic translations of prints and pictures of the past. Here, she has painted photorealistic images of her ancestors, the ancestors of her countrymen, the heritage of the Armenian people. Photographic representations of single portraits, group and family with all the regional costumes and styles particular to the area.

The exploding color, the artist has reproduced entire pages and marginal decorations from the Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts and ‘Biblical Women’ 1994, ‘Portal’ 1995, ‘Khoran’ 1995.

Now, as in her decorative illustrations, the macabre vision of her intense, emotionally charged work brightened as did her palette. Fanciful flowers, nymphs, Sea-monsters, birds became favorite subjects. Her fascination with winged creatures, stylized fauna and flora, is joyfully expressed in ‘The Garden of Eden’ 1992, where Gem-like colors highlight the imaginary species that spill onto the board, and the neutral ground seems to pulsate with the beat of their brilliant wings.

Another masterpiece, which gave great reputation to Seeroon, is ‘The Splendor of Aypupen’ The Armenian Alphabet, similar to the English Alphabet is composed of stylized letters made up of mythical creatures, angels, flower parts, animals, reptiles, birds and sea-monsters. Each letter is a complete representation by itself, collectively a highly colorful and decorative composition.

The art of Seeroon Yeretzian is broad in concept, in style and thematic variety. As an artist she remains an intriguing creator of psychologically arresting, poetically evocative images.
In her dream narratives we find variable experimentation, daring brush strokes and striking color combinations, where, using free associations, dreams and imagination, myth and legend as tools for total freedom of expression, she creates paintings which are vital and explosive, having ambiguous images of emerging and receeding moods, expressed in diverse art styles. Using as vehicle the tragic history of her ancestors, pivotal personal experiences in her life, the joys and sorrows of mankind, she recreates her world of dreams and captures the poetry behind emotions.


By Noushig Jarakian, 1994

On March 18, 1994 I was fortunate to ask Seeroon a few questions about her art. Her second-story art studio overlooking Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood had been ravaged by the January 17 earthquake that struck Los Angeles with a mad fury. However, it will take more than an earthquake to stop Seeroon from painting. She remains undaunted and is resilient in her quest to express the harsh realities of life which haunt her.

Seeroon migrated to Los Angeles from Beirut, Lebanon which is her birthplace. Upon arrival in 1976 with her husband and newborn child, she embarked on a career of observation. She attended U.C.L.A. after previously studying art and fashion at the University of Beirut and graduated from Otis/Parsons Art Institute in 1985. She has a sharp eye for reflecting dark images of life that normally remain ignored. Her sense of wit is strong and her images bold, yet in my conversation with her she revealed her modesty and mild manner. She spoke of the contrasts between men and women’s roles in society, cultural and gender status differences in Lebanon and Los Angeles, the hypocricy of the wealthy and impoverished living side by side. These themes prevail in Seeroon’s art. She is a product of three cultures that brew inside her making her soul richer and restless at the same time.

I asked Seeroon how her art would have been different if she remained in Lebanon. She responded, “When I came to America, I was an adult. I had different cultures in me (Armenian and Lebanese); having different concepts of life I incorporated them into my art. In America everything is different. There is more freedom to express ones self. In Lebanon, art was tertiary occupation for women”. Seeroon believes that the atmosphere in Los Angeles that boasts a multiethnic environment is conducive to her unique expression. Lebanon provided a suppressive environment for women. Her art would not be non-existent, but it would not portray the daring themes she grapples with in her art today.

She comments on the subject matter and meaning of her work entitled, ‘Eternity’ 1990, Gouache on paper. She states. “It looks like women crucified on men, but it does not symbolize the crucifixion of men, it shows that women are the backbone of men. Generally, men do not show their true feeling, they act macho. They have the tendency to reveal a woman’s sensitivity, but under the disguise of manhood they don’t show it. So, here woman and man are together in one physique.

Seeroon does not believe her art is indicative of any movement. She believes the trend now is not to have a trend or movement in art. She sees artists as following their own unique styles instead if imitating and adhering to any particular ‘fashion’. She is excited about her current works that explore the relationship between man and animal. Prior to this she reproduced the mythical characters of miniature Armenian art that dates back to 3000 B.C.

Seeroon does not paint to have her paintings sold. She will not conform to please the masses. She realizes that the general public wants to look at rosy paintings, or paintings that please them and do not require a lot of thought. She believes, “Pictures are like windows, and if you like art, then you love to have different windows in your home”. Seeroon paints and creates art as a means of dealing with life’s harsh realities.  She draws attention to the plight of the homeless in her paintings. ‘Vanity’ 1990, oil on canvas, the old woman depicted in this painting found refuge in the streets amidst plastic trash bags. This woman is not a figment of Seeroon’s imagination. She reminded her of women in the Middle East who bundle their heads in scarves. She said “what if this woman was Armenian, a mother, a grandmother, what happened in her life that led her to such despair? It is absurd to see people in America rummaging through our trash to survive.” Seeroon revealed her rough childhood, “I was homeless as a kid, we were very poor, we lived in a refugee camp with roaches as big as birds & big rats that attacked cats. To this day I am a homeless Armenian no?

Seeroon’s philosophy about life and religion reminds me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s beliefs expressed in ‘Self Reliance’, where he states. “Society never advances. It receeds as fast on one side as it gains on the other. Its progress is only apparent, like the workers on a treadmill. It undergoes continual changes: it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is Christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society loses new arts and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under.” Similar to Emerson, Seeroon believes that God is an abstract term. She believes the power to create is within the individual. When I asked her if she was an atheist, she responded, “I am an agnostic, I neither believe nor disbelieve.” This is an important concept in understanding Seeroon’s art.

In his article “Seeroon Yeretzian: - A contemporary Armenian Artist,” -  Sahag Toutjian (art-critic) states, “The line is long from where Seeroon draws her harsh world. She looks to women’s right as leading her to humanistic causes where she emphasizes a woman’s and  man’s everyday crucifixion with inhumane circumstances. She deals with both of their equality. Mankind’s suffering, and depraved human beings subordinance by other humans. Man’s inhumanity towards man. These are expressed in works dedicated to the 1915 of the Armenians in contrast with the American dream.

In an article entitled “Seeroon’s Art,” the author compared her to international world reknown artists including Vasily Kandinsky, Max Bekman, Juan Miro and Paul Klee and Edward Munch. I found some similarities to exist with Seeroon’s earlier works which contain ancient characters of life and Norman Stiegelmyer’s ‘Return to the Infinite’, 1977-78. Oil, acrylic on canvas 48’x60’. Like Seeroon, Steigelmyer was compared to Miro and has dealt with, “The reconciliation of dualities – dualities, good-evil, spirit-matter, man-woman and the focus and release of energies were recurrent themes.

Seeroon’s Self Portrait, 1993, oil on canvas, 28’x30’ deals with her own dualities. This portrait reveals one image of Seeroon as ghostly white with an elongated neck and purported head. This image is set in contrast to the strikingly aged, darker and melancholy Seeroon, which creeps out from underneath the more pale and youthful Seeroon. Perhaps, the dark sullen face of Seeroon in the background has been exposed to the harsh realities of life and has haunted her into a bleak image. Also the tilt of her head indicates she is puzzled or perplexed about something.
In her work, entitles ‘Art Objects, 1992, oil on canvas, 72’x58’, there is a dominant figure of woman emerging crucified against and becoming one with the spine of ancient skeletal figure of a man. In the background figures of women, as expressed through the ages by men, as in the ‘PreRaphaelite’ women depicted and in Michelangelo’s. Most of the nude figures of the women are faceless and set against the three colors of red, orange and white that seem to burst in flame. Figures of women who are fat, thin, young and old are depicted. The different stages of womanhood are displayed in the upper left hand corner. Circled above the head of the main figure is a halo-like ring of red. Nestled inside the halo are primitive forms and shapes.

Seeroon’s work entitled ‘Veni, Vidi, 1994, oil on canvas, 48’x30’ is very revealing. There is a central image of a wooden cross in the foreground. This is a central image of a wooden cross in the foreground. This image is viewed from behind. It is white with bold outline and the hands are robotic. The face is half hidden behind the horizontal wooden post of the cross. The background is dark blue and the four images are heavily shaded. The image in the upper right hand corner is a woman who is displayed and exposing herself in the nude. Seeroon believes that it is usually the woman who is exposed bare in a provocative manner and the man in the crouched position covering his body and face. He looks like he is hiding himself in shame or in despair. On the left side of the cross is an old man sitting alone on a bench feeding the birds. Below on the right corner is the old homeless woman, possibly the same one from ‘Vanity’. All these images induce a grim picture of a society where man is becoming technologically advanced which is leading to the destruction of society. Our fate is to grow old all alone and end up homeless, hungry and alone. This is a very bleak, morbid and harsh view of reality. But, for Seeroon this is reality. Seeroon’s work entitled ‘Quo Vadis’, 1993, oil on canvas, 48’x30;, reminded me of the film written by and starring Charlie Chaplin, ‘Modern Times’. It deals with the idea of a world being run and taken over by machines leaving no place for man in society except in destruction. This film was very thought-provoking and created a controversial theme that was to have recurrent themes in art as in Seeroon’s ‘Quo Vadis’.


By Dr. Arpi Sarafian, 1999

Justaposing the soft-spoken, rather reticent, artist and the strikingly bold paintings that adorned the walls of the AGBU Alex Manoogian Center last weekend may seem difficult. I wonder though if one is right to equate boldness and expression with being boastful and loud.

A very impressive crowd of art lovers has swarmed to the Gallery to savor Seeroon’s artistic creations. And indeed, no one left empty handed. Seeroon’s creations were sensually and intellectually engaging. Besides, there was enough versatility to satisfy any palate.

The so meticulously executed and stunningly beautiful illustrations, inspired by Armenian Miniature Art and Rock Carvings and Etching from our ancestral land, were an unusual visual treat, a virtual fiesta in color. These compositions were powerful evokers of our rich past and a most fitting tribute to Armenian culture, a clear focus of Seeroon’s art. Particularly eye-catching was 30’x40’ oil on canvas “Heavenly Peacocks,’ and exquisite design of bright reds and blues with a dazzling green peacock in the center.

Seeroon’s sensitivity to her cultural heritage, which she characterizes as a amalgam of the Armenian, the MiddleEastern and the American cultures, has also found expression in “A Day in Los Angeles,” a very originally conceived mosaic of different cultures and feelings. This 60’x148’ mural awaits its rightful place in one of the Public Buildings of our quintessentially multicultural city.

There was, on the other hand, much food for thought in the artist’s more direct expressions of her more personal visions. While I would hesitate to reduce each individual painting to the visual expression of a specific concern, issues did emerge in each of them. An intellect was clearly at work here. Among the homeless and other fellow sufferers, woman reigned supreme. Much to her credit, Seeroon had succeeded in bringing out the complexity of a woman’s position, partly by giving expression to her own innermost feelings and emotions. Even if trapped and crucified, the woman Seeroon had created had a consciousness of her plight. More importantly, she had the freedom to express herself. Much unlike her muted predecessors, this new woman had been empowered with a voice of her own.
On a different note, the mutilated, decapitated and tormented inhabitants of Seeroon’s artistic world – rose buds entrapped and literally choking on their own thorns (I wondered why one such depiction was entitled “blooming”) – testify to the often disjointed and fragmented nature of  contemporary life. In a postmodern age it is difficult to believe that Godot will ever come, or that art will provide the unity and the harmony we so desperately seek. In fact, the predominance in Seeroon’s painting of  darker colors – the abundant browns, for example – makes it difficult, despite the artist’s  claim to a “metamorphosis,’ to have glimpses of a brighter world, that these works do not depress us, however, and instead, invite contemplation, is evidence to their success as aesthetic creations. Good art cannot be depressing.

Over the years, I have watched Seeroon grow and, with every step, come closer to finding her own distinctive voice as an artist. Rather than diminish their artistic value, the visible presence in her work of different influences like Picasso or German Expressionism – as some are rather too keen to point out – testifies to her willingness to experiment and to her ability to build on tradition in order to create her own style. Creation is a balancing act and the capacity to evolve is an essential ingredient of creativity. To me, most exciting in this growth process has been Seeroon’s evolution from her earlier tentative, more hesitant, attempts – where the didacticism was often quite overt and intrusive – to the bolder and subtler expressions of her current work. All in all, it was good to see a woman hold center stage. Seeroon moved among her guests with confidence and ease. She appeared secure despite, or perhaps because of, her unassuming and serene manner. On that particular night she reaffirmed celebrated novelist D.H. Lawrence’s claim that “hensure” is indeed surer that “cocksure.’

“Art is meaningless without the eyes of the viewer” Seeroon noted when she thanked all those who had come to support her art.


By Sona Hamalian

Seeroon Yeretzian’s paintings and illustrations suggest a terse, often enigmatic discourse across art-historical references, thematic platforms and design elements. Yeretzian is as comfortable in exploring the limits of formal cross-pollination as she is insistent on packing the socially and politically conscious punch: the trauma of the Armenian Geocide continues to ripple through a sober attempt at poeticizing collective grief; images of violence against women, emotional and otherwise, and in novel guises, seem to crash on facile notions of legal equality; and the appalling living conditions of the homeless and those struggling on the fringes of the American Dream spawn on vision of the postmodern metropolis as breeding ground for widening strife and contradiction.

To Yeretzian, Los Angeles is the ultimate metaphor for nomadic experience. As much a fatally magnetic destination for the displaced, as an experimentation in multicultural destiny-making, the sprawling city at the extreme edge of the Western tradition is all about the nightmare made flesh along suburban grid line and a systemic barrage of hypertechnology. Yeretzian’s human figures, often faceless and resembling three dimensional models etched on computer screens, find themselves situated in terrifying landscapes of psychic confusion, seething with loneliness. Man and shadow seem to be the only reliable mutual references, even when among groups, while a crucified human figure, with electronic metal-and-wire gadgets serving as hands, is not a human at all but an android now dismantling the most cherished of myths.

But Yeretzian goes beyond the narrative, certainly beyond the didactic, to register her critique within the larger project of a spirituality against the tide. This is her way of subverting the slew of social injustices, the violence, cultural serialization and sheer angst of the fin-de-siecle: by both keeping the discontent alive and seeking the signifiers of transcendence behind the field of action, she is busy embracing both as interlocking forces of life affirmation.

Yeretzian’s spirituality comes in amplitude of iconography spanning the very length of world art. She plumbs the depths of Armenian Illuminated manuscripts and prehistoric rock-carvings, as well as the imagery of the Renaissance masters, as though to snatch swaths of wisdom from the symbol, and then welds the lot into an abstract expressionist impulse that ultimately serves to synthesize and enlighten rather than hawk an eclecticism for its own sake. Perhaps it’s this openness to the archetypes of sources of pure form, coupled with an exceptional mastery of color that gives Yeretzian’s art its quality of knowing exuberance. Even in the most intellectually taxing of works, where conglomerations of skulls, forlorn truth seekers and crucified urbanites would, at first sight, exact reactions of impotent melancholy, what in truth takes hold is a sense of esthetic soothing, passionate and many-tiered silence vis-à-vis the violence, that does much to elucidate Yeretzian’s own brand of spirituality.

© Copyright 2009 Seeroon Yeretzian