By Newlin Tillotson
Providence, RI – For the Elibekian family, artistic talent is a trait that is passed from one generation to the next. Vagharshag Elibekian, his son Robert and grandson Areg share an aptitude for painting and theater, fortes that have allowed them to capture cultural traditions, fantasy and beauty in their work.
“Elibekians: Three Generations of Artists,” an exhibit that opened June 6 at Gallery Z in Providence, showcases paintings by each of the artists. Though the paintings are the work of three family members, the artists have their own distinct style, letting the work of each Elibekian stand on its own.
Born in 1910 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vagharshag worked as a director for Tbilisi’s Armenian Theatre and practiced painting. His work represents the traditions of Armenian culture and captures family values through portraits. “Armenian Family,” does just this with its portrayal of a husband and wife with their two sons. The sons hold books, underlining the value of education. Each figure in the painting is well dressed and the objects including the gramophone, rug and painting on the wall is illustrated with careful detail.
Robert, born in 1941, also in Tbilisi, focuses less on detail in his work and more on emotion. His paintings of theatre performances and costumed women are dramatic and alive. “Performing Actresses” incorporates dynamic movement with costumes that flow around the actresses; it is a piece that reflects fantasy. As Gallery Z’s senior gallery assistant, Melissa Thyden, put it, his brushstrokes are fluid and full of movement.
“Robert and Areg have similar brushstroke techniques, they are loose, rhythmic and almost dance across the canvas,” she added.
Areg, the youngest Elibekian, was born in 1970 in Yerevan, Armenia and was educated at Yerevan’s Institute of Drama and Fine Arts. He now lives in Montreal and frequents Paris in the summer to paint the urban landscape.
Areg’s work reflects solidity and is well defined. The brushstrokes are textured, mirroring an impressionist style. His work mainly involves the bourgeoisie with images of riverside cafes and Paris markets. “Marche De La Buci II,” an oil on canvas painting, depicts a corner café, bustling with socializing and well-dressed Parisians. The painting is less about detail and more about the energy. The colors are bold; Areg includes every shade imaginable in his work.
Thyden said what is most noticeable in the collection is the aspect of family.
“It is really inspiring to see three generations including a grandfather, father and son carrying on the art of painting,” she said. “That’s rare nowadays, you hear of family restaurants passed through the generations, but I feel like trades practiced by every family member is uncommon. The feeling of family in this gallery is very powerful.”
(“Elibekians: Three Generations of Artists” is on view until July 27 in Gallery Z, 259 Atwells Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island. Artist receptions will be held June 20 and July 18. For more information, call (401) 454-8844.)