studied at Studio 5316 and in Concordia University, both in Montreal,
Canada, and at the Washington School of Fine Arts in Washington,
DC. He taught in the Beirut School of Fine Arts from 1972 to 1973,
in the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) from 1977 to 1981, and
in the Institute of Fine Arts of the Université du Saint-Esprit
de Kaslik, from 1981 to 1985. He won the following prizes: Honory
mention of the Trans Mediterranean Airways, Beirut in 1972; the
prize of excellence of the Makhoul Street Art Fair in Beirut in
1980 and in 1981 the first prize; the second Grand Prix, all categories,
at the National Competition of Visual Arts, Montreal in 1990 and
1991. He was nominated for the prize of Artistic Excellence Laval
in 1991, and won the third Grand Prix, all categories, at the 13th
National Competition of Visuals Arts in Montreal in 1996, the first
prize for abstract work at the 14th International Competition of
Visual Arts in Montreal in 1997, and the first trophy for surrealism
at the 15th International Visual Arts, in Montreal 1998.
He held about forty individual exhibitions in Beirut, Montreal,
Ottawa, Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles and participated in more
than two hundred fifty group exhibitions in Canada, the United States,
Europe, and he Middle East. Agopian's art work can be found in many
private and public collections, museums, and art societies. Agopian
is a master of the trompe-l'oeil style and the airbrush painting
technique. (Extract from Resonances - 82 Lebanese Artists Reviewed
by Helen Khal, Edited by Cesar Nammour and Gabriela Schaub)
Planets of the Mind
There must be something special in the genes of Armenians that makes
them such good painters. Put subject matter and emotive content
aside. Don't look for meaning or question the artist's intention.
Just feast your eyes on some of the most admirable products of paint
and brush you are ever likely to see outside a museum. In word,
this is modern art that possesses a quality seldom seen these days
- masterly painting in the classical tradition.
The same inherent ability to paint with the skills of classical
tradition also applies to Agopian, who didn't plan to become an
artist, never even thought of it until chance one day beckoned.
In a first course in design taken while studying engineering in
Canada in 1967, he did so well that the school gave him a one-man
show at the end of the year. Forget engineering, his teacher said.
Do not waste this amazing talent you have.
Agopian is essentially a surrealist who moves from easily readable
figuration to abstractions of complex imagery - from, for example,
a pile of pomegranate seeds floating against a cloud-scattered sky
to an abstract conglomerate of objects and symbols that are sometimes
difficult to decipher. Unlike the humanist theme in most Armenian
art, Agopian's recent work does not depict people but concentrates
instead on transforming the ordinary objects of our living environment
into abstracted metaphors of experience.
Agopian works in acrylics instead of oils, he says, because the
medium dries quickly and enables him to work faster. He does not
pre-conceive or plan his compositions, but paints in the organic
approach of progressively adding each element step by step as he
goes along. This I find incredible, considering the complex details
of his images and the flawless precision of brush they demand.
This man paints so well that he fools the eye into thinking the
objects he paints are real. One is impelled to examine the work
closely, is even driven to reach out and touch the rope or pencil
or torn scrap of paper that is not there. I call it trompe l'oeil
painting; he calls it hyper-realism.
Most intriguing is the series of "paintings within a painting,"
in which multi-colored abstractions, complete with frames, hang
in three-dimensional reality against a one-color background. The
mind is called upon to convince the eye that all, from composition
to frame to background, are no more than painted images on a flat
The Daily Star, 6 / 6 / 1998
Frontière fragile, mixed media on canvas, 92 x 135 cm, 1990
Fruit des Dieux, acrylic on canvas, 71 x 91 cm, 1995
Fruit des Dieux, acrylic on canvas, 41 x 51 cm, 1990
Marionnette, mixed media on canvas (detail)
The Family, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 71 cm, 2006