Artist/conservator Paul Mardikian will present his newest series entitled “Palimpsest” at Corrigan Gallery llc from March 3 through March 30 with an opening reception held on March 5 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM as part of the French Quarter Gallery Association spring artwalk. The gallery is located at 62 Queen Street in downtown Charleston.
A palimpsest, from the Greek “again I scrape,” is a manuscript usually written on papyrus or parchment on which more than one text has been recorded, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and still visible. Mardikian feels that a ghost emerging from the past and any surface can become a palimpsest — our body, our memory, layers of wallpaper or paint, love letters, notes or flowers lost in books. He sees the earth itself as a giant palimpsest in perpetual rearrangement. The term is often used in archaeology to describe traces or earlier phases of construction in the midst of, and below, modern occupation levels.
Mardikian’s work reminds us that a painting is more than a two dimensional illusion, it is a true spatial composition made up of multiple painting events. The accumulation of multiple layers acts as a mystic writing pad or magic slate. Even though certain information appears to be irreversibly erased, the substrate can survive and become visible under certain conditions. Texts, symbols, and erasures are superimposed and become part of a spatial and temporal composition. Each of Mardikian’s new works resembles a palimpsest with its unique layered history. Binders and pigments are added and subtracted to recompose the visible skin of the painting. “My paintings should be seen as an open window to a world of poetry and reverie. Similar to exploring archaeological layers, my work opens a window to the past, and superimposes one image over another, so that both the past and the present are visible at once.”
“My artwork is probably the result of a wide combination of influences including -but not exclusively- my work as an archaeological conservator over the last 20 yrs. It is also a blend of cultures and encounters with splendid individuals and places. My heart is filled with European, African, Asian, Australasian and American wonders. Most of my early work is inspired by Lascaux and rock art in general. Not really for the representational power of the animals, more for their abstract beauty and the miracle of their preservation. This incredible preservation after some 18,000 years is the result of an unexpected combination between the human hand and the mineral substrate. The human being behind the trace is long gone but the trace remains almost intact. This thought inspires and fuels all of my work. Does not the same thing occur with our memory?”
Paul Mardikian was born in France in 1963 and spent most of his childhood near Paris. At the age of 25, while studying archaeology and conservation science at the School of the Louvre and the Sorbonne University, Mardikian developed his own painting techniques and tools that he now uses to convey his feelings through abstract painting, abstraction being something the artist feels is a state of mind, a particular way to look at the world and comprehend its substance. Mardikian’s training in art restoration offered him a precious understanding of the chemical, physical, and optical properties of paint.
Mardikian’s career in conserving archaeological artifacts, such as those of the Titanic and the Hunley submarine, has fueled his inspiration. Being directly connected to the past, discovering and preserving the fragile remains of ancient civilizations, has left a mark on his artwork. “Interpreting abstract traces of humanity such as imprints, traces of fire, tracks, trash, brush stokes, graffiti, and scarifications left by a human being on any given substrate are part of this iconography. Those traces, whether intentional or inadvertent, are symbolic of the temporary physical presence of a person in the flux of time.”
Corrigan Gallery, now in its fifth year, is a culmination of 22 years of experience in the Charleston art market. The gallery represents more than a dozen artists in an intimate space and presents 6 to 10 shows per year with the gallery being refreshed every month. Visiting artists are included in the yearly roster with most of the artist being either Charleston natives or individuals living in Charleston. A gallery of contemporary works exploring the depth and intellect behind the drive to create, Corrigan Gallery provides a breathing space around the historic city’s traditional bent. Open six days a week and other times by appointment, the gallery can be viewed 24 hours a day at http://www.corrigangallery.com, contacted by phone 843 722 9868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.