Tufenkian Gallery to Present Artist Seta Manoukian’s: ‘I Don’t See’

One of Manoukian's creations, which will be presented at Tufenkian Fine Arts Gallery
One of Manoukian's creations, which will be presented at Tufenkian Fine Arts Gallery

One of Manoukian’s creations, which will be presented at Tufenkian Fine Arts Gallery

LOS ANGELES—Tufenkian Fine Arts is honored to present the work of Seta Manoukian most recent works, from April 18 – May 17. An opening reception will take place in the gallery on Thursday April 18, from 7  to 9:30 p.m. An artist talk will take place at the gallery on May 5, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Los Angeles based artist Seta Manoukian creates striking painted images on both canvas and paper, depicting common objects removed from daily contexts in combination with abstracted organic forms. As an Armenian born in Beirut, and living through the first ten years of the country’s devastating civil war, Manoukian’s work is informed by the experience of Diasporas. The artist’s current visual language is further derived from her spiritual practice as a Buddhist nun in the Nyingma tradition. This exhibit includes work from Manoukian’s Boule, Rock, Egg and Rose series.

Life & Death Dance (2016) presents a red spiral on a white background that fills the canvas and partially overlays its dark twin, an identical black spiral. At the painting’s core is a dominant round red “boule,” Manoukian’s term for the ball-like shapes that command this series, and her symbol for vital life force. In Actually this Happens (2016), the red boule form is mirrored across a horizontal canvas. The boules extend a thin tapered tendril that reach out and barely touch at the center of the composition. The two shapes simultaneously pull apart and join. We see in Manoukian’s work the themes of duality and paradox, forms that oppose and merge in unison.

The Rock Series is an evolution of monochromatic white paintings Manoukian produced during the Lebanese war. Those paintings were predominantly horizontal in format and, in the artist’s words, “expressed heaviness.” In contrast, the Rock Series of paintings are painted gently and thoughtfully. In the triptych As a Hand Held (2018), we see three adjacent canvases, each with a rock shape cradled in what appears to be sheet of crumpled paper. There is no horizon line. A soft rose glow emanates from behind the white paper shapes. The viewer is presented with a paradox. Are the rocks floating or falling? Are the forms real or imaginary? The result is a composition of form that is both static and active, where the meaning is derived by the observer.

The Egg Series of paintings are Manoukian’s most recent works. These brightly colored canvases explore organic designs for ceramic objects to be made in the future. The artistry of I Don’t Think So (2019) and Absolutely Hopeless (2019) display different compositions of funnel shapes curving upward to reveal clusters of white spheres. The Egg Series is undeniably idiosyncratic and strange. Manoukian does not restrict her output to what is predictable and easy. The imagery emerges from deeply personal visions, unfettered by worldly trends.

The most reductive paintings in the show are from the Rose Series. Ah!1 (2018) and Ah!2 (2018) each present a simple, singular rose flower floating within an expanse of white painted canvas. Manoukian equates the rose image to the Buddhist lotus blossom, an unabashed symbol of love. As with all of Manoukian’s works, these paintings are deeply personal visions to be shared with the receptive observer.

Born in 1945 to an Armenian family in Beirut, Lebanon, Manoukian won the first prize in painting and was given a scholarship to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts Pietro Vannucci in Perugia, Italy in 1966. She continued her studies at the Academia di Belli Arti di Roma. She returned to Beruit in 1967, where she began exhibiting her work at the Alecco Saab Gallery. In 1970 she began painting the White and Inside the Room Series, exhibiting them at the Geothe Institue in 1971. In 1973 she received a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation to study silk screening at the Barking College in London. In 1975, just as the civil war began, Manoukian started teaching at the Lebanese University in Beruit. In 1985 Manoukian moved to Los Angeles and continued her work as an artist. Her work was displayed at the Sherry Frumkin Gallery from 1988 to 1995. In 2005 Manoukian moved to Sri Lanka and was ordained as a Buddhist nun. She lived in Southern India from 2005 – 2006, later relocating to Los Angeles. Manoukian resumed her painting practice in 2016.

Tufenkian Fine Arts, located in Glendale, is an art gallery dedicated to presenting exemplary modern and contemporary artists. The gallery’s TFA Project Space displays the work of emerging contemporary artists. We connect audiences to outstanding exhibitions and events fostering an appreciation for contemporary visual art.

Tufenkian Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday by appointment only.

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