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MERSAD BERBER RICHARD HARRISON ARSHAK SARKISSIAN

49 ALBEMARLE STREET LONDON W1S 4JR | TEL +44 (0)20 7499 1616 INFO@ALBEMARLEGALLERY.COM | WWW.ALBEMARLEGALLERY.COM


MERSAD BERBER Mersad Berber was the most considerable artist to emerge from the chaos the Balkan wars of the 1990s. He achieved a degree of international celebrity previously unknown for any artist who came from this region of Europe, with exhibitions in London (Albemarle Gallery), Hamburg, Istanbul, Chicago, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Madrid, Zurich and New York. His last substantial showing before his death was a large retrospective, covering his whole career, held in 2009 at the CaixaForum in Barcelona. His achievement was the more remarkable because he was a Bosniak – a member of Bosnia’s Muslim community. The paintings exhibited at Albemarle Gallery, as a memorial to his career and work, focus on aspects of it that have brought him worldwide admiration. These include elegant female portraits, based on High Renaissance prototypes, with which he challenged the 16th century masters of the Venetian school; paraphrases of Velazquez, which express his profound admiration for the great Spanish master; and paintings of horses, which recall his love for the peasant life of the Bosnian countryside. They give a good idea of the breadth of his cultural interests, but the frequent fragmentation of the images also makes it clear that these are the product of an extremely contemporary sensibility. Istanbul’s Pera Museum is currently celebrating Mersad Berber’s work with the show “An Allegory of Bosnia”. Edward Lucie-Smith


1. The Triumph of Flora in Dubrovnik II (2000) Oil & mixed media on canvas 102.5 x 169.5 cm (40.4 x 66.7 in)


2. Flora with Flowers (2001) Oil & mixed media on canvas 160 x 120 cm (63 x 47.2 in)


3. Sarajevo - Alifakovac (2000) Oil & mixed media on canvas 68 x 102.5 cm (26.8 x 40.4 in)


4. Flora from Dubrovnik IV (2001) Oil & mixed media on canvas 120 x 60 cm (47.2 x 23.6 in)


5. Isabella (2000) Oil & mixed media on canvas 67 x 87 cm (26.4 x 34.3 in)


6. Flora from Dubrovnik VI (2012) Oil & mixed media on canvas 60 x 60 cm (23.6 x 23.6 in)


RICHARD HARRISON Many things are written by critics and commentators about an artist’s work. Many people ask an artist what does the work mean; and a huge amount of pompous gobbledygook is written by curators of contemporary art to fabricate some sort of merit or skill in infantile mud pie making. I trust that these new paintings do not need much explanation, that they speak immediately to the viewer, who does not have to read a book to derive some pleasure and some meaning from looking at them. I would however like to say a word about the style and the context of the new paintings. Since my last exhibition with Albemarle Gallery in March 2016, which was entirely devoted to my abstracted landscape work, I have been re-thinking my figurative work. There is no longer any attempt to give a modern twist to a mythological, biblical or literary subject, there are now just the figures; a single figure (or animal) or a couple of figures interacting with each other in some way. What is important now is the activity of the single figure, or the interaction of the couples. I have also deliberately gone back to a similar paint-handling to the one that was evident in my work from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s; then, as now, a looser, more expressionistic and more immediate use of paint serves to enhance and emphasize the emotion that the figure or figures appear to be experiencing. Richard Harrison


7. Ever Onwards (2016) Oil on canvas 110 x 140 cm (43.3 x 55.1 in)


8. Black Crag (2017) Oil on canvas 110 x 140 cm (43.3 x 55.1 in)


9. It’s Not That I Don’t Care For You (2017) Oil & acrylic on canvas 65 x 60 cm (25.6 x 23.6 in)


10. If I Had You (2017) Oil & acrylic on canvas 66 x 61 cm (26 x 24 in)


11. Some May Meet Again (2017) Oil on canvas 61 x 66 cm (24 x 26 in)


12. Dog Walk (2017) Oil on linen 51 x 51 cm (20.1 x 20.1 in)


13. Down By The Shore (2017) Oil on linen 51 x 51 cm (20.1 x 20.1 in)


14. It Hardly Seems To Matter Now (2017) Oil & charcoal on linen 51 x 51 cm (20.1 x 20.1 in)


ARSHAK SARKISSIAN Arshak Sarkissian’s latest series of paintings, is a rollicking, exuberant take on the convergence points of the visceral and the intellectual, of devil-may-care unorthodoxy and social and political correctness. Strictly speaking, this would be an impossible rendezvous. Yet in Sarkissian’s world, the perceived unfeasibility of those convergences pertains merely to personal choice. Fear the leap, and you’re guaranteed to remain ensconced in the realm of predictability, within the discreet confines of your particular comfort zone. Dare to imagine beyond the jump — that is to say, dare to embrace the unknown — and you might come into a bird’s-eye view you’d never thought possible, despite a bloody nose and a broken bone or two. This is about freedom. So it is that Sarkissian’s ornate, gleefully in-your-face, rand richly textured compositions are populated by figures who pledge allegiance to neither a particular locus nor a particular time, let alone a specific artistic tradition. These figures, complete with their multi-layered surroundings and divergent faces, masks, and attire, rub elbows with one another because they can; but also, most importantly, because it would be a crime not to. Phantasmagorical, sometimes androgynous characters straight out of gargoyle country rubbing shoulders with a bespectacled hip-hop dude with earphones? Why, yes! A young woman channeling Marie Antoinette and holding a candelabrum, within the same frame as a flamenco girl with a creepy-clown visage and sporting a terrier in her pouch? Most certainly. And also an abundance of mythological figures, costumeparty goddesses, and Mephistophelian beings interfacing with the nakedly primitive and sexy, at times juxtaposed with sacrificial skulls or jungle denizens, and always floating in an epic dream of being and becoming. Perhaps, ultimately, Sarkissian’s genius lies in not just the melding of discrepant references and sensibilities and making them look and feel dazzlingly congruous, but his claim of a certain timelessness that has to do with the philosophical eye. “Give me your follies and soars, your aching beauty and flagrant nastiness,” the artist seems to whisper, “and I would still insist on the full monty.” Sona Hamalian


15. The Look (2016) Oil on canvas 70 x 90 cm (27.6 x 35.4 in)


16. Meeting (2016) Oil on canvas 70 x 90 cm (27.6 x 35.4 in)


17. Carnival (2016) Oil on canvas 80 x 105 cm (31.5 x 41.3 in)


18. Mythology 1 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


19. Mythology 2 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


20. Mythology 3 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


21. Mythology 4 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


22. Mythology 5 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


23. Mythology 6 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


24. Mythology 7 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


25. Mythology 8 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


26. Mythology 9 (2016) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


27. Mythology 10 (2017) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


28. Mythology 11 (2017) Indian Ink on Japanese Rice Paper 42 x 30 cm (16.5 x 11.8 in)


29. Fishes (2016) Pastel on paper 113 x 76 cm (44.5 x 29.9 in)


30. Bird Song (2016) Pastel on paper 113 x 76 cm (44.5 x 29.9 in)


31. The Shoes (2016) Pastel on paper 113 x 76 cm (44.5 x 29.9 in)


32. Still Life (2016) Pastel on paper 113 x 76 cm (44.5 x 29.9 in)


© Albemarle Gallery MMXVII


ALBEMARLE

Berber | Harrison | Sarkissian  
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