Armen Agop is known for his graceful granite sculptures that harken back to ancient Egypt and forward to our time and beyond. Born in Cairo in 1969, Agop revives ancient techniques to create “contrasting art” – where contemporary meets ancient, light meet heavy, still meets moving. Agop graduated from the sculpture department in Cairo’s Helwan University in 1992. He won the Prix de Rome award in 2000, gaining international recognition. The artist lives in Italy’s famous carving town, Pietrasanta. 

Take us through your process. How do you develop your ideas?
My body of work has one general concept: freedom. My sculptures are not pinned in a base. In fact, they rock or spin from the slightest touch.  The freedom is given both to the piece and also to the observer, who is free to touch it.   
What ancient sculpting techniques do you use?
The difference between modern and ancient sculpting techniques is the time factor.  Now days modern technologies enable us to work faster.  
I prefer the ancient approach. I dedicate a longer period of time toward discovering what I really want to do or what the stone might suggest.  For me, it is more like sharing my time, or part of my life, with the stone. I hope and seek to reach a sort of mutual agreement, neither the stone nor I impose upon the other.  
In other words, it is not only about me and what I want to do, I see the stone or the granite as a part of nature, like me, finding a way of living together rather than using each other. 
Remember that granite existed before the human being. Interfering in its life, I think, is a big responsibility. It would be very shortsighted and egocentric to approach such a part of nature thinking only about what I want to do. 
Are your works connected? 
Certain elements repeat in all my pieces: colour, material, freedom. Keeping those elements consistent reveals the individuality of each piece in terms of its character and its internal world.
Why do you use a matte finish?
A matte finish doesn't reflect the surrounding and it doesn't attract or reflect too much light. Somehow with the matte finish the sculptures interact less with the outside world. In a sense, they are more concerned with their interior life.  They renounce the outside and focus on the inside to reveal the spiritual way of being. It manifests the ascetic side of the work. 
Describe  a typical work day. 
There is no typical day. Sometimes I carve.  Sometimes I just observe and try to see. 
How long does it take to create a sculpture? Do you work on more than one at a time? 
 Granite has been unmoved for a long time; to encourage it to review its way of being deserves time.  I try to focus on one piece as long as I can, and as much as I can, to unify with the piece. 
Your parents were Armenian, you were born in Cairo, and you live in Italy. How do those cultures influence your work?
One element present in all three cultures: the presence of the past. 
Every Armenian has a strong association with the word “Koyadevel”, which means to exist and to continue to exist.  In ancient Egyptian civilization you find the dream of eternal existence.  
So in both the Armenian present and the Egyptian past is the dream of eternity or survival. Maybe the granite is a way to reach the dream.
How has your art evolved over time? Has there been a defining moment in your career?
What has evolved is a relationship between the material and me. Now we know and understand each other much better.  
One of your sculptures is titled “sufic triptych”. How does Sufism influence your work?
Sufism is a way of being. Some cultures drive people to go forward without really knowing the way. But sometimes going deeper is more important. We have the freedom and choice to unite with ourselves.That can be a more distant journey.  The sculpture seeks no attention from the outside world. It is content with its own being. 
What do your sculptures reveal about you personally?
I don't think it is about me personally. It is about my personal interaction with a part of nature.  
Is there a hidden meaning behind your work? 
I don't think it is hidden. It is obvious for those who choose to see. The sculptures do not scream their meaning. 
Do you attach emotions to your pieces? 
They are more a state of being than a state of emotion.
You say, “Looking back is very helpful to see further ahead.” What do you mean?
In modern life, human beings are very distant from nature, even our own nature.  Looking back helps us realize our shortsighted and self-centered nature.  I think that human beings overestimate themselves when dealing with the world and nature.  They act like owners rather than participants. 

Jane A. Peterson, Art Plural Voices of Contemporary Art. 2014


Armen Agop Contemporary artist P.IVA 02099750461 - Privacy