2014-06-05 / News

Artist to unveil newest work Friday


Artist Lisa Barsumian, who splits her time between Jamestown and France, will have the opening reception for her solo show at the arts center on Friday. 
Photo by C.D. Staniforth Artist Lisa Barsumian, who splits her time between Jamestown and France, will have the opening reception for her solo show at the arts center on Friday. Photo by C.D. Staniforth Part-time Jamestown resident Lisa Barsumian will have an opening reception for her new exhibit on Friday, June 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Jamestown Arts Center. This is her debut solo show in Rhode Island, and the exhibit will include work that she’s created in the last two years.

Barsumian’s parents were both artists, and as a child, her mother taught her basic printmaking techniques on a small etching press in their basement. That made Barsumian’s decision to choose printmaking as her first major in art school come naturally. She studied many aspects of printing during those years in school, but eventually fell in love with painting and drawing, which she pursued for three decades.

Several years ago, however, she found a 40-year-old Dutch printing press for sale in a Paris shop, and felt an undeniable urge to begin printmaking again. Now the majority of her work is both painting and printmaking, with a focus on monotypes. Alternating between the two disciplines, Barsumian utilizes her drawings as a starting place for both.

“While all artists describe themselves as observers, Lisa focuses on a subject and renders it without a context, portraying its essence,” said Jeff Cooley, proprietor of the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme, Conn. “Whether in paint or print, Lisa is inclined to focus on an aspect of her subject and compose it down to a harmonious minimum, a place where positive and negative cheerfully coexist. Lisa has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of the simplest, most fascinating details of life.”

Born and raised in Connecticut, Barsumian studied at the Art Institute of Boston and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, also in Boston. She has been showing her work since 1984 in the United States, Canada, France, Greece and India.

Her subject matter has a large range, from landscapes to intimate observations of everyday objects. She seeks to simplify her images. In doing so, Barsumian brings forth a quiet sense of being. Whether in painting or printmaking, she’s inclined to focus on her subject and compose it down to a harmonious minimum. Drawing is fundamental to all aspects of her work.

Sketching simple lines to describe an object or landscape gives Barsumian the start of her paintings and monotypes. She uses black felt-tip pens to fill her sketchbooks, no erasing. Barsumian works from life, memory, imagination and drawings.

Her paintings are made with oil paints on stretched linen. She uses a small palette of seven colors and prefers long-bristled brushes. Monotype is a printmaking process in which only one print is made. Ink or oil paint is brushed onto a nonporous rigid surface and then transferred onto paper by using a press. Her decades-old printing press was made by Joop Stoop in Holland, and her printing paper, which is 100 percent rag cotton, was also made in the Netherlands.

“The universe presented in Lisa’s paintings is poetic and refined,” said Olivier Delahousee, a French gallery owner. “Her palette takes us there by the harmonious softness of her colors. The beautiful technique Lisa employs in her monotypes manages to rend simple black and white into color.”

Barsumian and her family divide their time between France and Jamestown.

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