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Vahakn Arslanian: A Retrospective

October 9 – November 8, 2003

Andrew Edlin Gallery is pleased to present Vahakn Arslanian: A Retrospective, from October 9 - November 8, 2003. At 27, Arslanian has already created a prodigious body of work (he began exhibiting at 13). The exhibition will trace his evolution, and will include works made as a teenager up until the present with about 50% of the show comprised of new work. The gallery will also exhibit Arslanian’s sculptural objects for the first time; lightbulbs of various shapes and sizes that he has altered through breaking and melting them, as well as several that he has cast in bronze. A DVD catalogue will be available prior to the exhibition.

Deaf since birth and diagnosed with autism at age 5, Arslanian began to make art as a child (eight of his early works were recently selected for Golden Blessings of Old Age; Out of the Mouths of Babes, a yearlong exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore beginning this October). In 1990 he was the subject of a video documentary “Vahakn : Portrait of an Artist”, narrated by Julian Schnabel. Schnabel devoted the entire introduction of his 1987 book C.V.J. (Nicknames of Maitre D’s and Excerpts from Life) of his observations of Arslanian as a five year old . “Vahakn has a true relationship between his soul and hand,” he said in an interview last year. “He is a true painter.”

Arslanian’s fascination with glass began as a child when his obession with smashing it was an acute manifestationof his autism. As an artist his appropriation of glass includes the use of found window frames, mirrors and car windshields as homes for his drawings of birds, planes, candles, lightbulbs and other still life objects, which take on iconic stature when placed in these settings. In the summer 2002 issue of Ararat Magazine art critic Tram Combs desribed Arslanian’s artistic vision as “ an outsider peering at fliers- physical, possibly spiritual: among them are planes, birds, candles newly smoking seen through shattered but cohering windows, presumably of buildings, apparently unpeopled.”

Arslanian, of Belgian and Armenian descent, was raised in New York City and resides there with his family. He attended high school at The Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf in Long Island. He is a self-taught artist.

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