The power of a hyperrealistic painting is its ability to make a viewer mistake fiction for fact. Tigran Tsitoghdzyan’s black-and-white paintings, however, take the challenge a step further, offering up fantasy instead of fiction.
The Armenian artist, now based in New York, creates large-scale paintings of women’s faces, covered but not hidden. The subjects’ hands are pressed against their faces, fingers spread from forehead to chin. Yet the features which should be blanketed beneath them rise to the surface like secrets bubbling to the fore. Eyes, nose and mouth are written onto the women’s hands in sharp detail, yielding a disorienting vision somewhere between seeing and believing.
Tsitoghdzyan’s portraits implore the viewer to question who exactly they are portraits of. The subject? The artist? Something in between? The fact that Tsitoghdzyan often paints his wife -- a model herself -- complicates the equation, infusing their artistic exchange with the residue of art historical relations between male artists and their female muses. Tsitoghdzyan toys with art’s ability to turn humans into myths, women into chimeras, and the consequences that can arise from such an alchemy.
The work’s surrealist style lands somewhere between André Breton and airbrushed magazine editorials, uncovering images’ eternal ability to simultaneously hide and reveal, truth-tell and deceive, document and dream.
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