Garo Antreasian

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A Survey of the Paintings, Drawings and Prints of Garo Antreasian, Sept. 6 -October 30 Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA

Friday, October 27 Conversation with the Artist

The large works on exhibit include The Red Brigade (Plate 4 of 4). Acrylic on wood, 66 x 24". Courtesy of the Artist and Gerald Peters Gallery (Santa Fe) Its severity balanced by the use of intensely rich color. The Memorial Series (Plates I - IV), 2004, is a dramatic and somber reference to commemorate all martyrs and has been created using charcoal on paper.

The name of Garo Antreasian has been synonymous with creative lithography in the United States for the past fifty years. In 1994, Antreasian was awarded Printmaker Emeritus by the Southern Graphics Council and he also holds the Honorary Master Printer Certificate awarded in 1969 by Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, where he worked as Technical director. He was a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico from 1964 through 1987 as well as the Technical Director of the Tamarind Institute of the University of New Mexico. Other honors, among many, include fellowships for travel and study, and Visiting Lecturer Fulbright Award from San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His work is a part of important collections including the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institute, and the New York Public Library.

"Conversation with the Artist" --5 pm, Friday, October 27.


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Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
November 13, 2005 Sunday

Out of prints;
Known as a master lithographer and Tamarind founder, Garo Antreasian makes his mark as a painter

by DAN MAYFIELD Journal Staff Writer

After all these years, it's still about the paper. For artist Garo Antreasian, the materials he's used, created and explored are as important in his work as the images he paints or prints.

Though he's known mainly in Albuquerque as a printmaker, and as one of the founding members of Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, he's always considered himself a painter.

In his latest show, a small exhibition of his newest work at the Gerald Peters Gallery, called "The Color Cast Series," which opens Friday, Nov. 18, he's deliberately left big borders around his painted images.

It's so you can see the paper, he said.

"It has a glossy enamel surface; I was taken by it," he said.

"We had all these discussions about archival paper and you had to handle it with care and all that crap," Antreasian said. "I like to just go into the store and look at it."

He liked, on this particular paper, the sheen.

Each of the images is a simple 6- by 6-inch square, with a large border.

It's his obsession with materials, with paper with ink with paint, that has made Antreasian's work some of the most collected.

"I remember," said his longtime friend, printer and former student Jack Lemon, "Actually, when we did this set of three prints with him, he wanted it on this specific paper. I asked him, I said, 'Tell us where you got the paper and we'll get it.'

"He said, 'I got it 20 years ago in this little shop in Vancouver ...,' Lemon said. "It took us four or five months, but we found it. So we did print on it. That made him happy."

It's funny that Antreasian, a guy known for painting, would end up becoming one of the most respected printers in the world, especially considering the time he was printing.

"Lithography was dying, and there were ways to do it," he said.

"In 1960 I was doing both, painting and lithography," he said. "Because I had to teach myself, there was very little literature available. In learning by myself, (my prints) had a different look about them because I didn't learn the traditional way.

"That's how I got to be known," Antreasian said.

At the time, "Garo was the guy," in printmaking, said Lemon. "He was the first master printer and was the first guy that knew anything about it."

Forgoing the brush

Antreasian was invited to open the first Tamarind Institute in Los Angeles.

He ended up coming to New Mexico, and running the apprentice classes for UNM.

Lemon was one of the first in the program, after he had initiated a relationship with Antreasian when he was painting in Indiana.

"I started writing Garo when he was still in Indiana, which was like many moons ago," Lemon said. "I was interested in lithography and I would send him questions and he would give me the answers."

Tamarind ended its L.A. affiliation in 1970, and Antreasian ended up in New Mexico permanently.

During his time at Tamarind, however, Antreasian's love of materials and processes resulted in new inks, which are still the printing standard, and several printing processes.

Between 1960 and 1986 Antreasian was so busy printing and helping with Tamarind that, he said, he didn't have time to paint.

"By that time my interest in lithography was waning anyway," he said.

So now for the last 19 years, since he retired from UNM, Antreasian has painted.

Just like with his prints, he's experimented with materials and techniques. Many of his pieces are on balsa wood. Some are giant drawings. Some are prints. Some are in series.

It doesn't matter.

"I'm a painter. You get typecast in this business," he joked.

His work these days is abstract and inspired by Middle Eastern architecture. You can see the curves and lines and calligraphy of the Koran in his work. You can see the arches, the arcades and porticos of the Alhambra or ancient mosques in his drawings.

"I got a big Fulbright grant and I took my family to Turkey," Antreasian said.

His family is Armenian, via Turkey, and they visited the spot where his family home once stood.

"I was so emotionally taken by it," he said, "we went back to Paris."

But he left with an appreciation for the architecture, the aesthetic, of the Middle East.

In his own way

"In this country, we're more attuned to Western art and only now are we beginning to see the influences."

But now, Antreasian is settling into a new life.

He's taking some time off to move to a smaller place, and he'll need to find a new studio.

"I've got some sketches, but it's going to be a while before I can paint again," he said.

But, with age - he's 83 - comes understanding that newer, younger, artists are coming to the forefront.

"I understand that art moves on, and each generation continues the stream," he said. "We used to be in the front of the train, and now we're not even in the caboose."

His art is in many public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of New Mexico, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and more. He's made his mark, and now he can sit back and continue his explorations at his own pace, he said.

GRAPHIC: Garo Antreasian was inspired by Middle Eastern architecture, which can easily be seen in his work, after a family trip he took to Turkey.

COURTESY OF LIQUITEX Garo Antreasian is one of the founding members of Tamarind Institute but his love was always painting. Antreasian has made work that's big, small, and everything in between, but his newest series, "The Color Cast Series," like his other work, is as much about the materials he used as the images themselves.


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