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Artist Interview Series: Arega Grigoryan

Arega Grigoryan is a visual and digital artist originally from Armenia, now based in Burnaby, B.C. Intrigued by the stories of people and moments that inspire her, Arega is passionate about telling these stories with her artwork, mixing elements from nature and her dreams into visually captivating pieces.

“Sometimes I paint and create my dreams. I also love nature. Sometimes, I mix everything together or just stick with one story,” Arega says, describing how she finds the right avenue to capture the stories of her subjects with her portraits and compositions.

A constant observer, Arega marvels at the beauty of unique perspectives. After she completes her pieces, it is a joy for her to hear the interpretations the audience has about her artwork. Wherever it takes the viewer emotionally or visually, is a beautiful experience for Arega to take in.

“Everybody understands in different ways, which is the beauty of life,” she says.

A delightful consequence of creating personal and meaningful works is her audience will more than likely bring their own meaning to her art. Delighting in the diversity of language and culture in Canada, she explains how using people here as her inspiration makes her work interesting as she unravels their stories.

“I am trying to catch those feelings and moments and tell my audience what I think, what I feel and I love when I am getting there,” she says.


A woman lying in water surrounded by 3 bulls. (Victoria, painted by Arega Grigoryan)
Arega Grigoryan, Victoria

A portrait of Arega’s sister, who lives in a small city, Kapan, bordering Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan are currently in conflict with one another.

One of her favourite paintings, Arega uses bulls and water as symbolism for the bravery of her sister who remains near conflict out of deep love for her city. Her sister delicately floats on the water's surface surrounded by three protective bulls. They are muscular but tender in their proximity to Victoria as if they are given mutual comfort in each other's presence.

“When the bombers start bombing, all animals run away from the mountains but only cows and bulls stay, which was so interesting for me. And it touched me. So, I wanted to compare herself with bulls, because they stay there as protectors of their land. And so is she.”

She further elaborates on her usage of bulls in the painting as a comparison of women to animals, saying “Each of us has some animal inside of us, and this was her animal."

The bulls also represent the mountains of Kapan, which are the protectors of the small, beautiful city.

The Hero

A man facing straight with blood on his mouth. The Hero, painted by Arega Grigoryan
Arega Grigoryan, The Hero

An Armenian hero, the blood across his mouth represents his own blood flowing through his son, who was once harmed and imprisoned by the government. It is also a representation of the death of a friend in prison, who was like a brother to him.

The Hero is Arega’s visual comment on the victims, one personal to her, of an unjust government. Not one who usually speaks about politics, Arega was moved to paint this piece to say that what happened here was not right. Although the mouth of this hero was closed by blood spilled, Arega gives a lasting voice to the subject in this piece. What makes artwork like this even more impactful is what it does to the hearts of members of our own community.

“One Armenian lady from our community was so touched with the painting. She [had been] at my exhibit to purchase flowers for her house but was so [moved], she immediately bought the painting.”

I dare you

A woman smoking a cigarette with her chest exposed. I dare you, painted by Arega Grigoryan
Arega Grigoryan, I Dare You

Sometimes you have to let your inner craziness out.

Loving to represent her work using the female figure, Arega’s piece is a rebellion against the monotony of following expectations. Her subject is composed and the gaze is unrelenting. There are no signs that she will cover her bare chest, her blouse has fallen off her shoulder, and she looks to be at ease, with no intention of covering up.

“When people have this certain mask, when they have to be good...and be nice with everybody... it’s all kind of one line.”

In I Dare You, Arega encourages us to live beyond the single lines of our lives, saying “Sometimes, go crazy and be human.”

By June Diaz


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