Timothy Taylor is pleased to present Armen Eloyan: When it’s good it’s great, a two-day Frieze Week performance bringing together artist and audience in equal parts temporary exhibition and immersive tattoo event.
‘Two years ago, I asked Armen to create a tattoo during a period in my life when I most felt the English spirit of ‘When it’s good, it’s great’, and therefore ‘When it’s bad, it’s shit.’ This pop-up is intended as a homage to Armen’s expressionist style, which reflects the energy and dynamism of the ever-changing cultural landscape I’ve grown up in. In a world full of uncertainty and anxiety, his work offers a wry, subversive humour that feels perfectly attuned to my generation,’ writes Cassius Taylor, the curator of this exhibition.
Influenced by cartoons, punk music and the spirit of anarchism, Armen Eloyan approaches his painting, sculpture and tattoo practice with the same humorous attitude. Eloyan, who has been inking tragic and playful tattoos on himself since he was eighteen, sees the human body as a living painting removed from the complex buying dynamics of contemporary art.
Egalitarian in ethos and housed in an industrial Soho loft, the event will stage a temporary exhibition of figurative paintings and sculpture by Eloyan along with the sale of 50 limited-edition prints. A catalogue of stencil and permanent tattoos designed by Eloyan will be available for visitors who wish to receive them, courtesy of a professional tattoo artist, allowing guests a unique opportunity to access Eloyan’s paintings by using their own bodies as a canvas. Eloyan himself will be live-drawing and painting in the space.
The tattoos and paintings are shaped by Eloyan’s love of cartoons, which poured into his television set as a young boy growing up in Soviet Armenia. American cartoons – Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Popeye – as well as Soviet cartoons set the stage for Eloyan to make sense of the world. ‘Cartoons parody the culture, they reflect it in a way that’s entertaining but also profound,’ he says of his lifelong fascination. ‘How humans behave like animals sometimes – how ridiculous politics can be.’
The paintings and tattoos shown here satirise our reliance on the entertainment industry and the hypocrisy of Western politics. Painted in an acid palette of orange, cerulean blue and violet, Eloyan’s characters appear in absurdist scenes inspired by graffiti and Abstract Expressionist paintings, while comic captions evoke the work of Raymond Pettibon and 1970s punk rock records. ‘I draw from my life,’ Eloyan explains of his aesthetic. ‘I’m in favour of equality, the working class. The art in my paintings and tattoos tells the story of my passage through this life, good and bad – and one thing I learned is how to tell a really great joke.’
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