Cafesjian Center for the Arts, Yerevan

Curated by Vigen Galstyan



‘The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.’ – Michel Foucault, 1977

The relationship between power and violence is the uniting theme of the twenty-three works by Kamo Nigarian presented in this exhibition for the first time. Beginning from his early works as a designer, Nigarian took on a critical stance towards ideologies of state and mass culture. As an important dissident artist who emerged in the last decade of the Soviet regime in Armenia, Nigarian was deeply concerned about humanity’s inherent capacity for violence and the hidden desire for power in us all.

Whether working in poster and installation design to painting and photography, Nigarian reflected on the current state of humanity as one mired in profound conflict, paradox and schizophrenia. Deriving his ideas from the philosophical traditions of psychoanalysis, anthropology, economic theory and even sci-fi literature, the artist attempted to expose the underlying horror of societal and political structures.

‘Schizopolis’ also charts Nigarian’s artistic development through his experimentation with stylistic legacies of expressionism, surrealism and pop-art as he searched for viable means to project his anxiety about the crisis of modern civilization. Here, history and contemporary life exist in the same space, constantly resuscitating the systems that lead to war, genocide and chaos. As the artist had written in 1999, the ‘accumulation of events on the background of reality is perceived as an act of madness. But madness is differentiated from normality only by a scale of conventions. Schizophrenia is the opposite of convention.’

Like a disturbing chamber of horrors, ‘Schizopolis’ invites us to look at this ‘negative’ exposure of reality and contemplate the unconscious madness implanted in our everyday existence.

"The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us."
Michel Foucault, 1977

The relationship between power and violence is the uniting theme of the eighteen works by Kamo Nigarian presented together for the first time in this exhibition (curator: Vigen Galstyan).

Beginning from his early works as a designer in the 1970s, Nigarian took on a critical stance towards ideologies of state and mass culture. As a dissident artist who emerged in the last decades of the Soviet regime in Armenia, Nigarian was deeply concerned about humanity’s inherent capacity for violence and the hidden desire for power in us all.

From poster and exhibition design to painting and photography, Nigarian’s work reflects on the underlying terror of societal and political structures. The exhibition charts his bold experimentation with stylistic legacies of expressionism, surrealism and pop-art as the artist searched for means to project his anxiety about the crisis of modern civilization.

Like a chamber of horrors, Kamo Nigarian: Schizopolis invites us to look at this "negative" exposure of reality and contemplate the unconscious madness implanted in our everyday existence.