Charles Garabedian, A Retrospective
I recently attended a preview of the Charles Garabedian: A Retrospective exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which will be on view through April 17. It was an absolute delight to have the artist himself on site to guide us through his works that SBMA Curator of Contemporary Art, Julie Joyce, selected for the exhibition. “Chuck,” as Ms. Joyce referred to Mr. Garabedian, shared insights – often humorous and self-deprecating – on the subject matter of the paintings, his process and inspirations.
I’m not an art expert or critic and my words wouldn’t do the artist justice, so the point of this post is to urge you to go SEE the exhibition for yourself! Why? You’ll be moved. Here’s the official scoop from the eloquent experts at SBMA who shed light on why Charles Garabedian is an artist we should all be familiar with:
This exhibition represents the first important museum presentation and catalog in 28 years devoted to the art of Charles Garabedian. Bringing together approximately 60 works created by the artist, the exhibition represents his entire career with an emphasis on paintings and drawings produced during the years since his first (and last) major solo museum exhibitions in 1983. With a career that spans nearly 50 years, Garabedian explores themes of war, music, the body, dismemberment, heroism, comic pretension, love, and death-all conveyed with a sense of immediacy, intimacy, and poignancy. Underlying the work is the artist’s own elegiac confrontation with the joys and struggles that pervade our daily lives.
Each painting or drawing creates its own world yet also reflects the turbulent times in which it was made. Garabedian’s accomplishments and influence among artists on the West Coast in the last 30 years have been substantial. His persistently individual exploration of figure, landscape and subject matter paved the way for new generations of artists who demonstrated a renewed focus on imaginative representations of the figure.
The exhibition is spread out among four galleries, grouped chronologically, making it easy to digest and interesting to see how his style evolves while common threads carry throughout. Mr. Garabedian explained that the three most important things to him when painting are “the primal, archetypal and monumental.” I was amused by a quote from him on the description accompanying the The Philosopher, explaining why the figure is missing his left arm: “Philosophers think and talk a lot but the world happens with or without them.”
Go spend some time in the world as seen through the eyes and paintbrush of Charles Garabedian. Santa Barbara Museum of Art is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm. You can take your own virtual behind the scenes tour on the museum’s blog. Better yet, hear from the artist in person at a panel discussion to be held Feb. 24 as part of the well-rounded related programming surrounding the exhibition.