Armén Rotch

Born in 1955, Yerevan, Armenia

Personal Exhibitions:
2017 Sobering Galerie, Paris, France
2013 Tea Time - Peace Time, Lycée Jacques Decour, Paris, France
2011 Galerie Lakanal, Foix, France
2008 In Vivo, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan, Armenia
2008 Gallery Eponyme, Bordeaux, France
2006 Espaces Tempérés de l’intime, Espace Art et liberté, Charenton, France
2000 Paintings, Espace Culturel Leclerc, Vitry-sur-Seine, France
1999 Paintings, Bergamot Station Art Center, Santa Monica, USA
1998 Drawings, Cité des Artistes, Francheville, France
1996 Matter in Motion, Galerie Basmadjian, Paris, France
1993 Paintings, Galerie Les Cent, Paris, France
1978-1988 Expositions Informelles, Yerevan, Armenia

Group Exhibitions:
2017 Art Paris Art Fair, with Galerie Sobering, Paris, France
2016 Luxembourg Art Week, with Galerie Monos, Luxembourg
2015 Rentrée anticipée, Galerie Monos, Liege, Belgium
2015 Art and Food, Espace Muséal du Château, Tourrettes sur Loup, France
2015 Armenian Abstraction, Subtile Conjuctions, Kulturhaus Karlshorst, Berlin, Germany
2012 Carte blanche à la villa Raffet, Parcours VIP de la FIAC à la Fondation Sam Art Projects, Paris, France
2011 Parcours Saint Germain FIAC-Off, Les Deux Magots, Paris, France
2011 Reliefs, Caisse d'Epargne Foundation, Toulouse, France
2008 I colori dell'Armenia, Castel Sant Angelo, Roma, Italy
2008 Gyumri Biennial, Gyumri, Armenia
2007 National Picture Gallery, Yerevan, Armenia
2007 Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan, Armenia
2007 Grand Blue, Gallery Artcore, Paris, France
2006 Artists of the Contemporary Art Museum of Armenia, Musée de l'Orangerie du Luxembourg, Paris, France
2005 Ego - Independency, MAMM (Museum of Modern Art of Medellin), Medellin, Colombia
2004 Ego, Contemporary Art Festival, Complexe de la Prairie, Ezanville, France
2003 Extramural, Espace Culturel Le 148, Alfortville, France
2001 Bunker in Paris, Gallery Yvart, Paris, France
2001 Bunker in Moscow, Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow, Russia
2001 Bunker, Don O’Melveny Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
2000 Bunker in Yerevan, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Yerevan, Armenia
1997 Contemporary Prints, Espace culturel d'Ezanville, France
1996 Eastern Paintings, Centre culturel de Courbevoie, France
1996 Paintings, Jerry Solomon Gallery Foundation of Creative Arts, California, USA
1996 Nonconformist Art from The Soviet Union, Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, USA
1995 Armenian Art Weeks, Bochum Museum, Bochum, Germany
1995 Contemporary Art in Armenia, Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow, Russia
1994 Abstractionism in Armenia, Gallery Akanat, Yerevan, Armenia
1991 Sovangard Art Gallery, Moscow, Russia / Vienna, Austria / New York, USA
1990 The 3rd floor in Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
1989 The Avantgarde of Armenia to Paris, Chapelle de la Salpêtrière, Paris, France
1988 Festival of USSR Avant-gardists, Narva, Estonia
1987 The 3rd Floor, House of the Painters' Union, Yerevan, Armenia
1983 Happening, The Center for Arts & Education Gallery, Yerevan, Armenia
1978-83 Clandestine Exhibitions, Black Square Group, Yerevan, Armenia

Public Collections:
- National Museum of Modern Art of Armenia
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia
- Ministry of Culture of Armenia
- Museum of Modern Art of Medellin, Colombia
- National Museum of Arts of Kazakhstan
- Zimmerli Art Museum, USA

2007 “Espaces Tempérés de L'intime”, Monographic Catalogue, Paris, France
2006 “Modern Art Museum of Armenia”, Yerevan, Armenia
2004 “Ego”, Contemporary Art Festival, Ezanville, France
2003 “Extramural”, Espace Culturel Le 148, Alfortville, France
1995 “Contemporary Art in Armenia 80-95...”, Ministry of Culture of Armenia
1990 “Express-Avantgarde” Moscow, Russia / Vienna, Austria / New York, USA
1989 “The 3rd Floor - The Avantgarde of Armenia to Paris, Paris, France

Armén Rotch (b. 1955) is an armenian artist who lives and works in Paris. He first began to exhibit his work in Armenia in 1978 under the name of Armén Hadjian, with the “Carré noir” Group, and continued to exhibit into the 1980s with the avant-gardists of the “3ème étage”, of which he was one of the founders, taking part in the “First Gathering of USSR Avant-gardists” in 1987. At this point, he began to show his work beyond Armenia: in Narva, Estonia in 1988; in Paris in 1989; in Copenhagen in 1990; and in Moscow, Vienna, and New York in 1991. He lives and works in Paris since 1993.

In the early 1990s, he exhibited during the Armenian Art week at the Bochum Museum in Germany and at Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey. He participated in the Armenian MAC Collection exhibition in Paris and is then presented at Caisse d’Epargne pour l’Art Contemporain Foundation in Toulouse. In 2011, his work was shown at Parcours Saint Germain FIAC-off and at SAM Art Projects Foundation. A retrospective exhibition was devoted to him at the Espace Art et Liberté near Paris and at ACCEA (Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art) in Armenia. He also took part in the Gyumri Biennial (Armenia) and in the Douai Biennial (France) in 2015.

The work for which Armén Rotch is best known is a fascinating series of paintings/collage/assemblage and installations constructed of used tea bags organized into simple, almost Minimal patterns. “While others may use the bags to help tired eyes or compost the contents in their garden, Rotch re-appropriates the tea bags creatively, giving them a stunning new purpose.” Rotch employs that have been left to steep for different amounts of time – a process that allows the artist to build layers of tonal variation within the installation pieces. Armén Rotch, however, succeeds in employing tea-bags as both the central motif and the primary medium from which his art is constructed. One suspects a link between Rotch’s Armenian homeland and the historical significance of tea as a once valuable commodity, traded across the continents and carried from China to Europe along trade routes including those which traversed Armenia. One may also infer an intention not unlike that of the Italian Arte povera movement in which art was created from the most humble of materials, the detritus of a culture in ruin, a culture lacking an excess of wealth.

Taken purely on face value, one must admit that tea bags, the artistic medium chosen by Armén Rotch, are visually intriguing and evocative. They suggest a lack of the arrogance so common in contemporary art. Rather, one senses a degree of modesty, even humility. There is also a definite tactile element and this is wed to the sense of smell which conjures or summons forth an array of memories.

"Tempered spaces of intimacy"
      When I encountered the work of Armén Rotch for the first time in 1989, I felt that I was already familiar with the taste of his arid universe, composed of fractures and faults, rocks and decomposed sediment, immanent glows and deep colors. It was a taste of stone and rock, an odor of burned earth, which incrusts itself in thoughts that could radically change meaning. In this telluric space of silence heard, introspective traces of a singular proximity were able to visually lead me to the very limits of its memory. This memory was fleeting, a palimpsest of stealthy reminiscences, a deep landscape of an elsewhere so close that it steals away from itself…
      Armén Rotch is above all a solitary being. He has constructed himself on the sidelines of the dominant ideologies of his period, in the unchanging silence of his successive studios.
      The works presented here on the occasion of the exhibition devoted to him at the Espace Art et Liberté de Charenton have their roots in a series begun in the 1990s. In them, Rotch explores the pictorial processes specific to the representation of the temporal dimension on the image. Primal gestures indefinitely repeated. Vibrations emerging from solid areas of color and brushstrokes that merge into and spurn one another. Series of temporal sequences within which fixed planes of time punctuate space in motion. The gestural energy here is divided into a multitude of retroactive instants that dissect space by clearly defined time. Lines and runs, traces and scratches, then become so many possible dimensions in which reminiscences and contradictions, certainties and hesitations, are found. The pictorial field that is transformed into a series of sporadic convulsions, a network of hesitations with irregular rhythms, induces the space thus tempered to rediscover its own chronography.
      But gradually, even the gesture fades into nothingness… There is no longer a place of being. Transmuted into traces, it becomes a presence, that "something living" that transcends temporal realities. The teabag then intervenes, insignificant and meaning-laden, the resurgence of rusty traces of a damp and dilapidated intimacy. The highlighting of the colorimetric qualities of the used teabag permit it to transgress its own habitual limits. It is no longer just a question of the tea that we drink, that we taste and that we smell, but of intimately organized spaces that balance each other, of colors formed by and for the other senses. Through the contact of each particular breath with the liquid element in which the teabag bathes, this thousand-year-old beverage is transformed into a type of amniotic magma where the bag is reborn, unique and singular… It will henceforth be cared for and dried to access a state of redemption. The bag acquires humanity whose presence prefigures the sensitive and infinite nature of beings and things. Always the same and always different, a trace of experience and a loan of oneself. Together and separately in a monochromatic polyphony, miniscule and infinite come together consecrating the surface of the canvas as a place where what may be sensed and what may be understood by the intellect merge. Using the same laconic and precise movements, inescapably repeated, placed one beside the other, with and despite the others, like our most intimate daily acts, Rotch experiences time, moving forward to the rhythm of its inner temporality, apart from any circumstantial chronology. Reflecting a sensation rather than a consciousness of time, a depth rather than an experience of duration, the question here is not one of mastering the "temporal protocols" but of being impregnated with hosts of instants in mutation, faded traces of a past without memory. The apprehension of absolute time, the perception of the fragility and finitude of the ego faced with the incommensurable space of infinite time, is only possible to the extent that experience and knowledge are in harmony with our intuitive and sensorial faculties. Taking the time to probe the depths that may be sensed of the image as a fragile and tempered space of intimacy, allowing it to cross our senses, allowing us to cross it. Seeking its own imponderables, vacillating in the time and space of each sequence, composing with more or less fleeting traces, moving forward, building in order to be rebuilt.

Gilda R. Guégamian, September 2006