Alexandra, you are from Armenia but have been living in Los Angeles since 1990. What do you like the most from LA and what do you miss the most from your hometown?
I was probably one of these rare immigrants that have never suffered from nostalgia or had ever felt homesick. When I came to LA, I thought I have always lived here and adapted very fast. LA is a very big, beautiful and sunny city, full of friendly people who are always smiling and very welcoming. And I also love the dynamism and fast paced rhythm of the city.
In contrast Yerevan, where I grew up in, is a very small, calm, cozy and very elegant city. It has beautiful and very unique architecture, and buildings made of colorful tufa stone. I miss the cold and incredibly tasty spring water that you can drink from a tap, and very juicy and tasty fruits and vegetables, and the majestic landscapes with amazingly unique light and saturated colors.
Once in the US, you started working in the fashion industry and that period lasted for two decades. How would you say that time in your life influenced the art your create today?
Working in fashion was a blessing for my artistic career. I definitely developed the taste and keen sensibility. I make the most of the costumes for my models, and I think of each series I create as complimentary fashion lines and groups. It also developed my sense of drama and theatricality.
In your work reality and dream blend. If we have a look to your space on Artzine, we can see pieces that represent scenes of suffering and confusion, always with an immaculate display of lights and shadows, and refined technique. What inspires you to create those pieces and what do you want to transmit with them?
It’s not necessarily confusion to me, though others may interpret it that way. Perhaps it is suffering from pain, that is the common denominator in humans. We have to experience pain to grow. Our inner, less exhibited emotions and feelings are complex, requiring examination because they are not as readily expressed and, as a result, are less understood.The central theme that unites all of my paintings is human connection. My paintings examine what seems to be separate and isolated life experiences and look for the connections to, and the impacts on, other people hidden in them.
Which would you say are the greatest satisfactions your career as an artist has brought and brings to your life?
When I worked as a fashion and a graphic designer, I always had to cater to the client’s needs. I found that my need to be in control of my own ideas was getting more and more overwhelming. I realized that only in fine art could I be free to express my ideas and be in absolute control of my creativity. Every morning I wake up invigorated to start working on my artwork. Also being your own boss is an amazing feeling, though one needs to have very strong discipline to be diligent and get the work done.
You are also an art teacher. What advice would you give to those brilliant emerging artists out there who are seeking their space within the contemporary art scene?
I think any artist, regardless of the genre they pursue, needs to have a fundamental art education and develop a very strong skill set. Build up your technique so its so deep in you that you can freely create, invent, improvise and develop your unique style, and have your identifiable voice.
What projects are you immersed in at the moment?
At the moment I have several upcoming group shows, here in the states and abroad, and I’m working hard to meet all my deadlines.
What are Alexandra Manukian’s hobbies?
Unfortunately, I do not have much time to enjoy my hobbies besides everything that has to do with art, teaching - including going to museums - and, of course, the practice. I would say spending time with my wonderful family, watching documentaries and movies, and playing piano are among favorite pastimes.
If you were given the chance to meet any artist in history, who would it be? Why?
It is so hard for me to answer this question. There are many artists of the Baroque era I admire, like Velázquez, Rembrandt and Rubens. I also love many of the 19th century Russian Peredvizhniki as well, like Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Perov and many others. I like them because I personally think that they were not only technically brilliant, but also created exceptionally honest, touching and moving art.
Thank you very much.