Conversation with Vahe Part 1 of 4
Conversation with Vahe Part 2 of 4
Conversation with Vahe Part 3 of 4
Conversation with Vahe Part 4 of 4
Journey is the Destination
By Gayane Haroutyounyan
Vahe Berberian, a modern day “Renaissance Man” – an artist, playwright, actor, and a man with a heap of creative ideas, the realization of which takes his whole existence, becomes a cultural icon of classic proportions, an Armenian Don Quixote – combination of nobility and desire to defend his beliefs.
A recognized artist, writer, comedian, and (as if that was not overwhelming enough) – journalism major honors graduate, dear Vahe should have been intimidating, but was not. When two paint-covered hands gathered my entire being in a warm embrace and were accompanied by a big, gentle smile, I knew I was “home”. His hospitality is grounded in more than impeccable manners, it is his philosophy. In Vahe, hospitality takes on a more elaborate form; he “welcomes” people, ideas, and concepts into his mind and heart. He assimilates and incorporates all of this into his art to produce something intangible and beyond definition, as art should not be defined, for it seeks no definition (and on this point, Vahe and I are in perfect agreement).
I entered his studio. A massive, dark brown canvas waiting to enter battle with the multidimensional, charismatic artist stood in a void, while everything around it screamed of life and art. A side room held Parajanov’s photo; numerous ethnic nick-knacks, and a massive green statue of Buddha on the bureau caught my eye. The background was good old Rammstein.
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Interview with Vahe Berberian
By Claudio Parentela
Tell me something about yourself….What’s your background…?
I was born in Beirut Lebanon in 1955. My father was a draftsman and being a prominent member of the Armenian community, was always busy with meetings and cultural events. My mother was almost 20 years younger than my dad, and she was like an older sister, always encouraging me and helping me with my first attempts in painting. I think my mother could have been a fascinating painter if she was given the chance. I left Beirut when I was 17 years old. I was a hippy. I travelled all over Europe, hitch-hiking and living in communes. Right after returning home, the Lebanese civil war broke out and I had to leave Beirut one more time. I stayed in Cyprus for a short time, then lived in Canada for about a year, then moved to Los Angeles where I have been based the past 30 years.
When growing what was the greatest force pushing you towards art?
I grew up in an apartment which was full of thousands of books. Both my parents were bibliophiles and they read incessantly. I fell in love with the magical world of letters and images at a very early age. I still have notebooks from my childhood where I have made attempts to create my own books by telling a story on one page and illustrating on the other – just in case people didn’t understand what I was writing about.
Were you inspired/encouraged by any one person to pursue your craft?
Both my parents appreciated the arts, but my main source of encouragement was my mother. She used to read to me for hours, bought me my first guitar, and was always there when I needed help with my drawings.
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