Hagop Keledjian was born in Yerevan, Armenia, where his vocation as a painter affirmed itself at the young age of twelve, as he entered the School of Painting for Young Artists. Upon graduation from college, Keledjian was accepted into the Aprahamian Art Studio, where he learned his technique. Aprahamian was the master of European realism and a follower of Velazquez. Studies with him involved working exclusively from life, at first using the conceptual and technical methods of Spanish, Russian, and French impressionism. The emphasis of each period was on direct painting from life.
Keledjian, being free-spirited and in search of his own artistic identity, found himself intellectually and morally in conflict with the academic and political pressures of communist society. In 1981, with his family, Keledjian immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Massachusetts. He continues to improve his education as an artist with the art studio of Richard Schmid in Vermont. One of his works is permanently exhibited at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Massachusetts. The Boston merchants of Newbury Street have also mounted a bronze plaque on the street wall to honor Keledjian as a master painter. He continues to live and work in Watertown, Massachusetts.
An Interview with Hagop Keledjian
Who are you and what do you do?
I have been an oil painter for over 30 years. I enjoy creating art as well as teaching and passing on my knowledge to students. I love to create moments with my paintings that reflect the harmony and beauty in nature.
Why do you do what you do?
This world presents us with unpleasant as well as beautiful things. I choose to emphasize beauty and hope to make someone’s life a little better with my art and bring a little joy. That is my ultimate goal.
How do you work?
I work mostly from life but I also pick things up from life and create my own compositions- I work mostly with oil and sometimes acrylic.
What’s your background?
I learned how to paint in Armenia. I was trained in classical art and when I came to America I studied impressionism with Richard Schmid. I am now leaning more toward impressionistic and modern styles. My style is constantly evolving and I love experimenting and challenging myself.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
To truly be themselves. An artist should be true to their feelings and express what they see, feel and understand.
What work do you most enjoy doing?
I love painting portraits and still lifes involving color harmony. I enjoy painting flowers in particular but also winter scenes and beach scenes.
What’s your favorite artwork?
My favorite piece is by Anders Zorn called Misses Salomon. I also enjoy the impressionistic works of John Singer Sargent.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
I went to an art museum in Boston and saw a painting by John Singer Sargent of “Woman dressed in Blue sitting on an Armchair”. It was unreal that I was seeing it in real life- I was blown away at that moment by how beautiful that painting was and I knew I wanted to create similar paintings.
What’s your favorite or most inspirational place?
Paris, France because it is romantic and beautiful. I love the way the artists come together there and there seems to be a universal love for art.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Out of anything, understand light.”
In the Studio with Hagop Keledjian
A Painting’s Story with Hagop Keledjian
“I was painting with a group of artists in Putney, Vermont with Richard Schmid. We came together once a month to paint as a group. On that particular day, we gathered as many flowers as we could and each artist picked a few flowers to paint. At the end of the session, everyone returned their flowers to these two large buckets. It was random placement but I saw something beautiful had formed. Somehow the flowers were grouped together perfectly. I ended up staying a few more hours after our class to paint the flowers in buckets. Something happens when you paint from life that you cannot get from a photo. Your eyes see much more when looking at live scenes rather than pictures- that’s why I try to paint from life as much as possible. Finding beauty in randomness is part of creating interesting paintings.”Hagop Keledjian on the creation of Flower Joy