February 18 — March 25, 2017
Conduit Gallery is honored to present, Bizarro, an exhibition of recent mixed media works by Dallas based artist, Barsamian. Known for his allegorical visual representations of worldwide political conflicts, the first generation Armenian-American artist employs symbolic imagery, pattern and visual fragments in densely layered compositions that play out ageless conflicts of predator and prey as well as aggressor and victim.
DC Comic’s 1950’s antihero Bizarro first appeared in 1958 as an antagonist to Superman, and in popular culture, has come to be known as Superman’s “mirror.” As everything seen in a mirror is in reverse, what it reflects may be bizarre but is indeed factual. With this reflective motivation, Barsamian draws from darker moments in American history, creating sculptural maquettes and canvases that describe phantasmic environments that present the viewer with a holistic view of what has made America.
The works in Bizarro refer directly to specific historic events and their contemporary relevance. In Jackson’s Removal Act, Barsamian paints Native Americans on the Trail of Tears alongside a toy yo-yo, highlighting the contemporary government’s desire for re-relocation of Native American Nations; their lands now desired for their mineral properties.
In a time when immigration, cultural heritage, and many in need of refuge are so present in the news, Barsamian’s rich and complex images encourage continued growth in understanding as well as the gravity of confronting history.
Robert Barsamian was born into a close-knit Armenian community in Whitinsville, Massachusetts in 1947, the son and grandson of survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. A studio art major at Massachusetts College of Art, Barsamian went on to receive his M.A. in 1971 from the State University of New York at Albany. Over the past 43 years, Barsamian has continued to maintain an international exhibition, teaching and lecture practice working locally with the academic institutions: Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX; El Centro Community College, Dallas; University of North Texas, Denton, TX and University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX as well as the South Dallas Cultural Center, an African-centered cultural center run by City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs in Texas.
He has held over thirty visiting guest lecturer or artist in residence positions since 1971. A partial list includes: Southern Connecticut University, New Haven, CT, Visiting Artist (2015); Holocaust Museum, Farmington Hills, MI, Visiting Artist (2011); Annual Scholars Conference on The Holocaust And Churches, University of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, Panelist (2010); Project Row Houses “Art, Community and Culture”, Houston, TX, Lecturer (2009); International Conference on the Arts in Society, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, Lecturer (2006); Association of Genocide Scholars Sixth Biennial Conference, Boca Raton, FL, Lecturer (2005); Worcester State College, Worcester, MA, Lecturer (2002); Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA, Lecturer (2001); Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL, Lecturer (2000); University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, Lecturer (1999); Visiting Artist, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, Lecturer (1997); From 1992 through 1995, Barsamian was a design artist for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Art Program. He designed the Cityplace/Uptown station, the only underground station in the rail system. This involved designing tile patterns and using historical images from nearby architectural digs in two 300’ tunnels as well as a 100’ drop from grade level to train platform. Barsamian’s work is held in the public collections of: The Tyler Museum, Tyler, TX; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY; the Asilah Art Museum, Asilah, Morocco; the State University of New York at Albany; and Western New Mexico University, NM. Barsamian also currently serves as a visual arts consultant for South Dallas Cultural Center, Dallas, TX in the area of printmaking and maintains a working relationship with Project Row Houses as a guest artist.