Armenian Jerusalem
Realism has been the driving force in the life of Apkar Hagopian, a native of Jerusalem, who is holding his first public exhibition, Portfolio 2000, in the beloved Old City of his birth. Despite the lack of academic schooling in art, he has succeeded in nourishing and nurturing the artist in him with skilful, patient care, enabling him to speak with us heart to heart, in the universal language of line, shade and color. A solid background in draftsmanship has been instrumental in providing the discipline needed for absolute control over his brush, so that no stroke is superfluous or flippant. His youthful exercises in then staid Jerusalem were, he unabashedly admits, charcoal nudes, copied from art books. Even then, the bold realism, the faithful attention to detail that mark his work, allowed nothing to escape the eye. Apkar's art lies in the skill and vision with which he transforms a static or inanimate object into a vibrant expression of his interpretation of the life-force that informs even the tiniest piece of stone. Each of his paintings speaks not to, but with us, evoking memories and rekindling desires, transporting us for a brief eternity into a realm where it is yet possible to dream of goodness, gentleness and compassion. It is the man's inner joy of life, tempered with the imprint of his gentle personality, that stamps his paintings with his unique watermark. There is an unostentatiousness here that is more than appealing, the egolessness and lack of self-aggrandizement enriching our experience beyond expectation. But a perceptive viewer cannot help detecting traces of a creeping melancholy lingering at the periphery of his vision, evident in the dark colors Apkar employs. For realism, also means truthfulness, and no one can escape the fact that the joy of life is tempered by its inescapable corollary, an undertone of sadness. Yet, in the tortured alleys of immortal Jerusalem, Apkar has made it possible for us to rediscover, albeit for a brief moment, the courage and strength to reinforce our faith in ourselves, and our creator. Apkar lives in the Armenian Quarter, in Jerusalem with his wife Anna and daughter Anoush. His son Apo lives in the US.