University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
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CHGS

  • Apo Torosyan : Quotations on the Artwork

    Quotations on the Artwork - What Others Say

    "I was impressed with the work represented in your slides, and have submitted your name to the Center as an artist especially likely to contribute to its program. This letter accompanies a message from the CAC setting out the details of your resulting award". Thomas Krens, Director of Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 4, 1996

    "As noted in both Walter Hopps' note (founding director of the Menic Collection, Houston, TX), and Thomas Krens' letter (Director of Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY), you are selected for an award of recognition". Eric Rudd, Artistic Director, Contemporary Artist's Center, MA, April 15, 1996

    "Both your 'Bread Series' and 'Immigration Installation' sound extremely interesting and thoughtprovoking". Barbara Haskell, Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, January 7, 1998

    "I would like to extend my gratitude to you for your pursuit of documenting and transcending the astounding atrocities visited upon the innocent. One of the noblest accomplishments of art is to enlighten, as your work does". Jill Countryman, Assistant Director, Hockaday Museum of Art, Kalispell, MT, May 15, 2002

    "Torosyan learned from his father and the sad experience of his grandparents to love without any discrimination and not to judge any nation or society by its past." Kate Vlatchenko, The Gatepost, Framingham State College, March 16,2001

    "Lots of good work here". Ivan Karp, Director, OX Harris Gallery, New York, NY March 15, 1998

    "The Bread Series and Immigration Installation at Westfield State College. Aesthetically it is the most satisfying exhibition which I have had the opportunity to be associated with". Dr. Ross Fox, Director, Arno Maris Gallery, Westfield, MA, March 4, 2000

    "I was very impressed by the content of your work. It is extremely complex and beautiful as well". Rebecca Sittler, Director, Cinema and Photography Gallery 1101, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, IL, February 2001

    "Your "Bread Installation" is both artistically and culturally full of depth and intensity".

    Max Schulz, Curator, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, March 2001

    "Your "Bread Series", which has received high acclaim in many museums, art galleries, and colleges, is an impressive and important expression of the atrocities of war, human oppression and the survival of the Armenian culture. I commend you on the extensive research that you have accomplished and I am impressed with your passionate desire." Dore VanDyke, Executive Director, Attleboro Museum, Attleboro, MA, Apri12002

    "Apo Torosyan is a rare, authentically "multicultural" artist who has tenaciously grafted the memory of Armenian genocide onto astonishing works of art to constitute powerful metaphoric statements alluding to his own autobiography, specifically the horrors of war experienced by his family over several generations". Judith Tolnick, Gallery Director at the Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island, November 2002

    "Apo is a cutting-edge artist. His work hits you and makes you ponder, which is what art should do". Sara Baker, environmental artist and faculty member, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, interview with Boston Globe North Weekly, February 22, 1998

    "I don't look for controversy. My art isn't for everyone. People sometimes expect quick answers, and the answers aren't always that easy. But that's the beauty of art; it gives you wonder and makes you think". Apo Torosyan, North ShoreSunday, MA, November 7, 1999

    "The initial shock and discomfort one feels when walking into a gallery of earth and bread captures the artist's purpose. The exhibit creates a feeling of awkwardness and unfamiliarity, which works to maintain the theme of immigration. This is part of the reason this exhibit is successful". Kelly Hardesty, the Siskiyou, Southern Oregon University, January 18, 2000

    "Apo Torosyan, a Turkish-Armenian artist living in Massachusetts, contributes a series of thickly textured paintings that are easily among the most masterful works in the show. Art this evocative is too open-ended to fit any theme". Frank Green, Cleveland Free Times, July 13, 1999

    `"Torosyan's art', said Karl Hollander, Executive Director of the Alliance, 'is a call to the viewer to look at life's condition'. They `call attention to the viewer to really look at the world around them', he said. 'They challenge you to look at things a different way"'. Heidi Knapp Rinella, New Press, Fort Myers, FL, April 1, 1999

    "Apo, as he is known, is an artist for whom tactility has always played an important role, dating back to a series in which he limited himself to only white, in order to concentrate on texture". Tony Cavanaugh, Artspeak, New York, NY, January, 1995

    "First and foremost for Torosyan is the bread's texture and form". Wendy Killeen, Boston Globe Correspondent, February 22, 1998

    "Never in the quarter of a century I have been exhibiting art have I had an exhibit which touched so many people in very different ways. Your work tells a very special story, a story which is not easy to accept but a story which is very important". Daniel O'Connell, Director, Berkshire Artisans, Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Pittsfield, MA, June 2002

    "I thought it would expand the horizons of our students. Frankly, we haven't had anything that has stretched the imagination to that degree". Linda Klein, Associate Dean, Endicott College, Beverly, MA, interview with Boston Globe North Weekly, February 22, 1998

    "What makes these pieces so appealing is the sense that they have evolved over a lot of thought". Peaco Todd, cartoonist and faculty, Lesley College, Cambridge, MA, interview with Boston Globe North Weekly, February 22, 1998

    "Torosyan's paintings concern a primal, yet imaginative exploration of the meaning of life. The symbolism of bread aside, the artist is absorbed by its aesthetic properties and potentialities". Dr. Ross Fox, Director, Arno Maris Gallery, Westfield, MA, January 14, 2000

    "Such as 'Bread #214' where a large grid of burned toast slices in set within a textured border in a frontal manner akin to Jasper Johns at his best". Tony Cavanaugh, Artspeak, New York, NY, January, 1995

    "I want to commend you for doing through some of your art what Atom Egoyan has accomplished through "Ararat" - exposing the genocidal experience to a much larger audience than would otherwise be cognizant of it, and, through that experience, leading viewers to ask all - important questions." Aris Sevag, Armenian Reporter, Paramus, NJ, December 2, 2002

    "Thank you Apo, for showing the students how photography can be so connected to life, and even death. I think you opened some eyes, and I know I was inspired". Andrea Hoelscher, Curator, PhotoBased Works, Photography Department, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, December 7, 2001

    "His `Bread' paintings are his most original work, and have thus attracted interest among collectors and gallery directors". Ingrid J. Swanson, President, Art Research Associates, Hamilton, MA January 21, 1996

    "Congratulations on the article in 'North Shore Sunday'. I truly like your idea about bread being a metaphor for life". Barbara Haskell, Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, January 7, 1998

    "The "Bread Series" then became the cornerstone for a conceptual art exhibition. As anticipated, the exhibit was well received, provoking interest, dialogue, as well as critical comments". Randall Hoel, Director, Sharon Arts Center & Galleries, Peterborough, NH, October 27, 1999

    "I have reviewed your portfolio, which indeed indicates that you produce strong work... the work is great". Hollister Sturges, Executive Director, Bruce Museum, CT, January 19, 1999.

    "I'm speechless, thank you for the opportunity to swim in your creative world. You are a true orginal thinker and visionary. I wish you all the power to realise your dreams. You are one of our most important representatives of the Armenian modern art movement. God blessed you with so much." Maral Kalinian, Dove Canyon, CA (from Yerevan, Armenia), 2001

    "What I am trying to say is, it is amazing, isn't it? We are fighting, and we are leisurely looking for our consumer life. That does not happen in too many places around this earth, but we are so lucky to live in a country like that. During a war, we still live our ordinary, regular lives." Apo Torosyan, North Shore Sunday, November 25, 2001

    "Like the European painters Jean Dubuffet/Fautrier/Wols before him, Torosyan frequently builds a thick, scarified surface capable of being incised or gouged back to a linen support, but his sensibility is also delicate, informed and derived from maternal roots in Greece. Indeed, the artist's use of gold leaf conjures the lost grandeur of Constantinople." Judith Tolnick, Gallery Director, Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island, November, 2002

    "Your theme is extremely relevant to why people immigrate, and is a journey of thoughtprovoking information. I applaud you; your work is exceptional". Sandra Roberts, Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts, York, PA, July 19, 2001

    "Exploring the wonders of bread, Sharon Arts takes on concepts. This is not a show about food, of course, but about the visual possibilities of bread as metaphor. It hinges on bread's symbolic significance, on its central place in the history of food, and therefore of culture and people." Andy Kollmorgen, Monadnock Ledger, NH, October 15, 1999

    "Squares are so often dull ...the physicality and love yours are full of not only break the rule, but surprise and renew. Thank you". Nick Nixon, Faculty, Photography Department, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, December 7, 2001

    "'Immigration' painting by Apo Torosyan is a strong painting, because it is both very personal and very universal. It invites a kind of scrutiny that a map might, for it is a map  not of a country, but of the personal struggle for a new identity". Krys Lloyd, Worcester Magazine, MA, October 17, 1990

    University of Rhode IslandFine Arts Center Galleries
    Judith E. Tolnick
    Gallery Director

     

     

    Apo Torosyan is a rare, authentically "multicultural" artist who has tenaciously grafted the memory of Armenian genocide onto astonishing works of art to constitute powerful metaphoric statements alluding to his own autobiography, specifically the horrors of war experienced by his family over several generations. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Torosyan earned his BFA and MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul (1968) and emigrated to the U.S. that year. As the son of an Armenian father and a Greek mother, it is his personal cultural and ethnic background that he harvests through his chosen medium of collage his cultural and ethnic background is a propelling source for his creativity.

    The particular collage form that Torosyan has developed and refined over some 20 years is a thick and idiosyncratic surface that sometimes seems barely to contain the threedimensional elements applied to it   in particular actual scorched slices or chunks of bread, embedded in layers of oil   but also fabrics, pieces of jewelry, and other tangible and evocative materials. Like the European painters Jean Du buffet/Fautrier/Wols before him, Torosyan frequently builds a thick, scarified surface capable of being incised or gouged back to a linen support, but his sensibility is also delicate, informed and derived from maternal roots in Greece. Indeed, the artist's use of gold leaf conjures the lost grandeur of Constantinople.

    The square or just off square colages do not so much depict as refer symbolically to the slaughter of innocents through the always surprising and varied integration of the roughly oval bread slices. The bread functions to "name" loss of basic sustenance available to the genocidically persecuted but these elements are at once present as ungainly brownish three dimensional forms that collect abstracted compositions of dark and light values, concealing or sometimes revealing ghosted photographic images and other allusions to victims and persecutors of atrocities. Torosyan's collages manage to distill narrative references, truths and lies, causes and effects through sophisticated formal means. He masks, obscures, adjusts part to whole and especially brings background layers forward as design elements. For this artist all elements must work together meaningfully since all are sensed as "live" causes and effects. Beyond his metaphoric content, therefore, he alerts us to discover the formal richness of his radical pictorial integrations as constructed works of art.

    Torosyan's control over unusual, even unique materials, and his two  and three dimensional conversation makes a grouping of even a handful of his works speak with unusual authority and potency. This "ethnic" artist has managed to retain his political convictions that are, admittedly, ever pressing ones in our time, the tumultuous beginning of the 21st century. But Apo Torosyan reminds us that art transcends the familial, the local, even the national. It remains our enduring universal truth, even if life itself may be cut short.

    - J. Tolnick