Abelina Galustian

Painting comparison by Abelina Galustian

Artist Statement

My visual argument began as a response to nineteenth-and twentieth-century Orientalist paintings. In appropriating the language and methods of renowned European master narratives, my work found its initial entree to a platform where counterclaims of Orientalizing stereotypes take place. This mission begins with the “Womansword” series in an attempt to refute normalized, rationalized, and legitimized racist and sexist practices that render the Other invisible, inconsequential, and negligible. In opting to revisit some of the most famed and familiar Orientalist paintings, my work claims a space in the relations of power to warrant talking back. Because the original depictions are iconic, quoting from them with explicitly political alterations forces viewers to take a second look at accepted images and scrutinize them.

The old masters’ narratives, from which I quote, benefitted extensively from photographs as a new tool in their paint boxes. Photo references provided accessibility within the Orient’s gender-restricted areas, thus making this a convenient practice in fabricating documentary-style portrayals of the Other, and ultimately in the conditioning of human vision. The mimetic engagement in my work makes use of the same stylistic techniques and processes to revise these Orientalist frameworks. My re-articulation of canonical narratives interrupts the oppressive boundaries of dominant forces, a process that necessitates some degree of turbulence.

My work embraces this very turbulence to reflect my own process of breaking out of personal conventional paradigms.