Meet the Artist: Masha Keryan

Masha Keryan is just one of the 12 artists featured in Aja Johnson’s newest group show, CODED. The Boston-based artist was born and raised in Post-Soviet Yerevan, Armenia and Moscow, Russia. Keryan received her BFA locally, from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2016. However, she also received academic art training in her adolescent years while living in Post-Soviet Armenia (Yerevan), studying under various native artists. The classical forms and postures displayed in her work are a result of this valuable fundamental apprenticeship.

As an established figurative painter, her works are recognized for their minimal or monochromatic color schemes which boldly explore and entertain the inner psychologies and relationship between both the subject(s) and viewer. With Keryan’s ongoing theme and artistic focus on human analysis and subjective character, it only makes sense that her works be showcased among our current exhibition, Coded, which focuses on how both artists and audiences engage with, interpret, and share art with others in our society.

We’re so excited to formally introduce Masha Keryan and get a deeper look into the artist’s experience, thoughts, and practices – straight from the artist, herself! Here’s what she had to say:

“Creativity and love for art have always been an integral part of my personality. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that noticed and encouraged this. When I was 6 I began my art education in Armenia. First it was miniature painting, then gouache still lives, and soon I apprenticed to different Armenian artists, who trained me in classical drawing, watercolor and portraiture. They shaped my artistic core with strict and traditional fundamentals which I still carry. At the age of 14, my family moved to Boston, MA where I continued art education at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (graduated 2016). At Massart the focus was less on the discipline and technique, rather on pushing the creative abilities of the mind, a very different approach for me. 

There was never a doubt in my surroundings or me that I would be an artist. The main conscious step that I took was quitting all my jobs in 2019 at the age of 24 and dedicating all my time and energy to artistic explorations. This decision felt like jumping off the cliff without a parachute. Terrifying experience but absolutely necessary…”

Masha Keryan, I SEE YOU’RE SAVORING MY SPARK

“Compared to the 21 year old girl who was freshly out of MassArt 5 years ago, I am now much more confident, disciplined and respectful towards my time and energy. I am fully dedicated to pushing my limits and the limits of my medium.

When I was a teenager, I received a strict academic art education in Armenia. It was focused on the traditional ways of defining form and understanding of color. Throughout my late teens and early twenties, I gradually began breaking out of the traditional though loosening my style and painting obscure experimental pieces. In 2019 I was painting stylistically expressionistic portraits, when I got inspired by a simple idea which has become the foundation of my current signature style. Ever since, I have been pushing the traditional properties of oil paint with a minimal approach to figure painting. My process is based on the application of thick, gestural layers of paint with palette knives. The works explore internal psychologies through classical postures and the relationships between the anonymous personas within ourselves. 

I am inspired by people. Some people get to learn about the world and themselves through books, television, art etc. I learn through people. It’s other people who introduce us to the full spectrum of emotions and human desires. It is the other people who provide important lessons that shape our characters. It is the other people who test us again to see if we have learnt our lessons. I am inspired by people and all the light and darkness that they are able to bring to this world. 

Currently my work is exploring human nature internally and externally. I’m looking for the right perspective on life, which can allow us to remain untouched by desires and temptations through the highs and lows. My paintings are a trail of this search.

Everything in my life has a spontaneous and accidental nature, including projects and opportunities. I’m quite active on Instagram regarding my studio practice and projects, so all announcements can usually be found there. Currently the most influential writing for me is “The Dehumanization of Art” by Jose Ortega y Gassett. From films I always recommend “Camille Claudel” (1989, Bruno Nuytten), Modigliani (2004, Mick Davis), Molly’s Game (2017, Aaron Sorkin) and I am a big fan of the Billions tv show.”

Special thanks to Masha for sharing with us. Make sure to drop by the gallery to see her work, among so many others’, while the Coded exhibition is open – September 3-26. Keep up with Masha Keryan by following her on Instagram @mashakeryan and on http://www.mashakeryan.com

For all other inquiries or to contact us directly, reach out to contact@beacongallery.com

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