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Aïda Kazarian at La Verrière

Caresse: the beauty of gesture

Aïda Kazarian – the Belgian Royal Academy's only woman member – explored gestural painting and communication on a huge canvas, during a month's residency at La Verrière in Brussels.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Aïda Kazarian at La Verrière
© Fabien de Cugnac

Boustrophedon is a form of writing practiced by the ancient Greeks, in which lines are inscribed alternately from left to right then right to left, like the furrows ploughed by oxen in a field (from the Greek bous, ox, and strephein, to turn). The same discipline is a self-imposed feature of paintings by Belgian-Armenian artist Aïda Kazarian, who has been teaching at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts for the past 25 years.

Aïda Kazarian's technique is a living tribute to the memory of her mother, working her shutle back and forth as she strived to repair Oriental rugs. The repetitive movement engenders something new: the "Figure" in Henry James's carpet, the phenomenon summarised by Henri Michaux (a leitmotiv in Aïda Kazarian's work): "In anything repeated, something is exhausted, and something matures."

A third constraint: the use of imprints – those of the sponges cut and shaped in earlier works, and now those of her own fingers, explored in infinite variations. The hand can give love, as the exhibition at La Verrière demonstrates. This love of gesture (literally) handed down, of generosity "ingrained" is immensely striking in Aïda Kazarian's work, composed of gestures performed by the artist herself: "brushings, gentle touches, strokings… shimmering, intimate contrasts."

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