The Weaver of Hovhannes Koshtoyan
Creative Armenia's Spark Grantee Hovhannes Koshtoyan weaved the threads of old and new
December 17, 2019 | by Creative Armenia
Creative Armenia Network member and now Spark Grantee Hovhannes Koshtoyan's new art installation in Gyumri connected the thread of old and new, gathering hundreds of people of all generations to take a new look at the very familiar statue of The Weaver.
CA: You are a painter and a sculptor. Tell us how each of these fields liberates and limits your vision? What kind of subjects do you explore through each of them?
HK: I find that no art field has limitations or obstacles. Each artist should venture to create something new and be a pioneer, however hard that might seem to be. Contemporary and innovative approaches and solutions are what modern Armenian art lacks. In my own works, the primary role belongs to the character, intertwined with innovative technique, minimalistic solutions, ethereal, but at the same time completely absorbed in human emotions and sentiments, flavored with the suspense of change and the mixture of future and past.
CA: Recently, as a Creative Armenia Network member, you received a Spark Grant for your installation, which is already open for the public. How did you come up with the idea? Tell us more about the creative process.
HK: The sculptures installed in the city have always been unique heritage to the citizens and have been at the center of my attention, especially the character of my installation art, the statue of The Weaver created in 1964 by Teresa Mirzoian. The statue symbolizes the collective character of factory workers of the time, who were beautiful and transfixing yet are forgotten and neglected now. While doing research on the concept of the sculpture, I got an idea to do an installation with woven threads in the background of the sculpture and connect it to the movement of the Weaver.
So, I decided to showcase the character of a working woman, who is feminine, beautiful and at the same time powerful. The textile factory of Gyumri was the first one in the Soviet Union where many women would do hard work, bruising their fingers while working with threads and working night shifts. The sculpture of The Weaver embodies the character of such a woman. I proposed the project to Creative Armenia and, being awarded a Spark Grant, we started the preparatory works. Before the installation, the residents of the district wondered what would come out of it and why we initiated it. Some of them were really welcoming, some were suspiciously following out work, sometimes even disturbing. During the installation, the only question that worried the elderly was, “what are you doing to our girl?” The Weaver is not only a reminiscence of the Soviet Union but also the “girl” of the residents.
CA: You were born and are now based in the city of Gyumri. Your art installation was also in Gyumri. What kind of artistic connection do you have to the city and how does it influence your vision?
HK: My creative life started early on, I can’t even recall when. I was born in a family of artists and have always been among creatives. Along with school, I also attended art school and later graduated from the State Academy of Fine Arts -- from the studio of the famous sculptor Zaven Koshtoyan. Currently, I live in Gyumri, a city that went through a lot of changes but didn’t lose its identity and cultural environment. It’s a city for a creative person and for creation, where you can get inspired even from ruins. Gyumri always was and will be a progressive and creative city. My mission is to give it new life and perception, as I did with The Weaver.
CA: You are a member of the Creative Armenia Network, which is a community of artists from across the world. Can you share with us your impressions and experience as a member of this big community of artists?
HK: I am happy to be part of such a creative digital community, where I met and befriended various artists from Armenia and across the world and got introduced to their work. I’d also like to mention the Creative Conversations with world-renowned artists that were held in a fulfilling and open environment.