The Hippo


Jun 18, 2019








Related events

Creative Studio: Name Assemblage Saturday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; explore the work of Varujan Boghosian and make your own assemblage with found objects, for adults and children; free admission this day for NH residents from 10 a.m. to noon
Currier After Hours: Common Objects Reimagined Thursday, Aug. 3, from 6 to 9 p.m., celebrating NH artist Varujan Boghosian, with art-making activity, plus tour of the exhibition with curator Kurt Sundstrom, live music, food
Creative Studio: Pun Making Saturday, Aug. 12, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., explore visual puns and smart juxtapositions in “The Curious Magic of Varujan Boghosian,” for adults and children; free admission this day for NH residents from 10 a.m. to noon
“The Curious Magic of Varujan Boghosian”
Where: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester
When: June 10 through Sept. 4
Admission: $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $10 for students, $5 for youth, free for children 13 and younger
Contact:, 669-6144

Curious magic
Currier hosts exhibition featuring NH artist Varujan Boghosian

By Kelly Sennott

 Hanover artist Varujan Boghosian is very pleased with the show Currier Museum of Art curator Kurt Sundstrom put together — “The Curious Magic of Varujan Boghosian,” on view June 10 through Sept. 4.

“You’ve done a wonderful job, covering a whole range,” Boghosian, now 92, told Sundstrom during a walk-through days before the opening; he’d driven almost an hour and a half that rainy day to inspect the comprehensive 60-piece show, and while he did skirt around the space with his cane to scratch in some corrections, he understood Sundstrom had no easy task. “I’ve had a retrospective, and many other shows, but this one is loaded! It covers a big range, from early watercolors to constructions to collages to recent work.”
The exhibition draws from the artist’s collection, the Currier’s holdings and private collections, and it contains all sorts of work — paintings, drawings, surrealist collages and assembled sculptures made of found objects, which are rich in references to art, mythology and literature. Some pieces date back to the 1950s, and some are brand new.
“We really tried to bring a full representation of all the work he’s done. Watercolor, clay, drawings,” Sundstrom said. “One thing that’s hard about this is that you have to talk about surrealist things, but you don’t want to over-explain it, because then it’s no longer surrealist. Surrealist art should [consider] each individual’s own interpretation [with] equal validity. You have to give just enough information. … He’s probably the leading surrealist artist, anywhere. He just had a show in Paris.” (“The French love me,” Boghosian piped in.)
Boghosian, the son of Armenian immigrants, was born in New Britain, Conn., in 1926. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he studied in Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship, then under Josef Albers at Yale School of Art and Architecture. Between 1963 and 1966, he exhibited in New York at the Stable Gallery at the same time as renowned artist Andy Warhol before moving to New Hampshire in 1968 to teach at Dartmouth College, which he did for nearly 30 years. 
Boghosian said he loves the Upper Valley’s fresh air, solitude and camaraderie; it’s home to so many creative people, including collage artists Marcus Ratliff, David Powell and Soo Sunny Park, whose “BioLath” exhibition is in the Currier the next gallery over. The region’s also perfect for collecting, which he does most every day. One of his favorite sites is the Antiques Collaborative in Quechee, Vermont. 
“I’m not inspired. I just work,” Boghosian said. “However, if I find something special as I’m looking around, that’s always exciting. You know: a three-dimensional object, a strange, rare piece of paper I can work with. Those are exciting finds. It’s like a gold mine out there.”
It’s been more than 60 years since he began collecting items for his collages, but he still can’t say what it is that draws him to an item. He just knows.
“That’s the very key question! The working process is intuitive, accidental and calculated. … I’ve been doing it so long that when I walk into a space where there are objects for sale, I almost immediately know what I might be able to use in my work,” said Boghosian, who was particularly happy about some recent additions to his collection — a book on Salvador Dali, a Spanish surrealist artist he admires, and a primitive slingshot he thinks would be great for a David and Goliath-themed piece. 
At the time, he was preparing a presentation at the museum, which happened June 11. His goal, as always, was to be funny, not boring. 
“When I ended my classes, I said, ‘You will never remember anything I have said. And I don’t think I’ve said anything here!’ … As a teacher, you talk a lot, but I’ll try not to be boring. I enjoy a nice dialogue,” said Boghosian, who noted that he recently began re-reading Death in Venice by Thomas Mann and finds it a bit excessive. “I’m at the point now where I just like to read the summary, you know? … That’s why some of these [collages] only have two elements. We’ve done away with the superfluous and gotten down to rock-bottom.”
Alongside each piece is text to give you hints at his references. Many tell of the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but sprinkled in are homages to prose by Franz Kafka and James Joyce, poetry by Blake and Dickinson. Many make direct references to famous artists. The most playful pieces are his “tchotchkies,” sculptures that bring together two seemingly different objects to create new meaning. (For example, a top pinned to a globe translates to “top of the world.”)
The Currier last hosted a Boghosian retrospective under Mac Doty, director of the museum from 1977 to 1987, but staff liked the idea of bringing the local artist back to Manchester because of his long ties to the Currier; he taught there in the late ’50s. 
“But he’s also a really nice guy,” said Sundstrom, who added that many artists work as long as Boghosian, but not all create new work the whole time. “A lot of them just repeat what they did that got them famous 50 or 60 years ago. He’s exploring this whole new thing.” 

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