Essay: Armen Agop by Ilaria Cipriani

20 September 2013

A ray of sun interrupts the blackness and ignites in throbbing flakes; some drops of rain and the granite is polished by tears; with the touch of a caress the form awakens, gently oscillating, like a living thing. Then it is possible to enjoy the play of light, to be moved in front of imaginary tears or to listen to the work in continuous movement, with a vibrating profile as that of open and closed lips carrying different messages for each beholder. The subject worked by Armen speaks to the careful observer, often soliciting the desire to touch it as if it were trying to establish a first contact and initiate a dialogue. It is enough to delicately brush the surface with the fingertips and the granite opens, like an introverted friend that finally confides after a pat on the shoulder.

In perfect equilibrium, a refined personal game of volumes and symmetries, the sculptures are brilliantly rotund with subtle lines, almost like thin veins under dark skin. The smooth and leathery epidermis of the black granite is the preferred material of the artist, who works it with all the love of his Egyptian heart.

Born in Cairo in 1969, Armen Agop graduated in 1992 with a BFA from the University of Helwan in Cairo where he also won a scholarship as Assistant Researcher. He taught in the faculty there until 2000, when he made the decision to move to Italy. He has represented Egypt in diverse cultural events: Winter Art Festival of Sarajevo-2001; Young Egyptian Artists in Rome, Italy-2001; and Contemporary Egyptian Art, Toledo, Spain- 2005. Several of his works are in public and private collections in his country of origin, specifically the Egyptian Modern Art Museum (Cairo) and the Aswan Open Air Museum. Currently Pietrasanta, a city in the heart of Versilia that is home to innumerable artists of world fame, has become his adoptive home, but this sculptor preserves well the strong roots that tie him to his own country, hence the choice of granite does not appear a casual one.

A heavy material with its compact grain is so distant from the stratifications of the marble as to seem much too hard to be modelled. Yet under the agile fingers of Armen the granite, no longer static and motionless, is magically lightened, letting fall to earth all that is superfluous leaving a honed, elegant essentiality. After an arduous labour of love worthy of the best poetaes nove, the sculptures are freed from their oppressive crust like enchanted creatures longing to finally come out from under the bark of ancient trees. Born of round forms, ovoid, sometimes similar to cones sweetened by a soft fullness, often hollow on the underside, the form of many of these sculptures terminates at the upper extremity in a delicate gently rising point.

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