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 Zadik Zadikian  (1946 - )

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Lived/Active: California / Armenia      Known for: minimalist abstract installations-stacked bricks

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is a blog review of a 2008 show by Zadik Zadikian in NYC at Tom Otterness’ Studio. The show featured 10 erotic fiberglass works, burnished with 24k gold.

Press Release:

The Seven Deadly Sins comprise excesses of basic needs and indulgences in basic desires. Yet whole civilizations have been built on the commitment of such offenses, on the amassing of wealth and the exploitation of others, to the extent that we presume the conflation of political, military, economic, religious, and personal power with greed, gluttony, avarice and lust.

Throughout his career Zadik Zadikian has provoked his audience with a simulacrum of such craven cultural, social and personal desire, using gold as a (universal) sign of wealth but re-fashioning its use so that its implications are subverted. The mad Midas of the art world, Zadikian has turned gold into painting, gold coins into monuments, even gold into space. In his latest series, he turns gold into sex – and back again. The results, surprisingly, vitiate the allure of both precious metal and erotic object – as Zadikian knew they would.

Building on the synecdochal role of the female body as the ultimate sign for sexual desire, Zadikian’s new sculptures also reflect numerous artistic – notably modernist – tropes. The bodies are idealized to the point of abstraction, while their specific sexual characteristics are frequently literalized, even to the point of anatomical precision. This divergence of reality, fusing clinical naturalism to a streamlined classicism, brings an unsettling aspect of (admittedly high-level) kitsch to a time-honored practice, as if, say, the quasi-pornographic object/image at the heart of Duchamp’s last work, Étant Données, had been fashioned by Brancusi.

In this manner, Zadikian not only provides Post-modernism one more crack at its Modernist parent, but provides the elder tendency a chance to whack, or even mock, back. More importantly, however, Zadikian also sets up an active tension between the more profound triggers, lust and greed. For once, sexuality and material wealth do not enhance one another; indeed, here they compromise each other’s power. One would presume that coating these voluptuous abstracted succubi in exquisitely finished, even antiqued, gold leaf would make them objects of universal desire; those not aroused by these evocations of the female body would at least be attracted by their glister.

But Zadikian’s co- employment of sensual form and mineral wealth is, clearly, symbolic on both counts. He works the gold leaf not to the point where we believe the object to be solid gold, but where we perceive it to be artfully clad. He shapes his shapes not to the point where they are actually embraceable, but where they are only caressible – and, then, still cold to the touch. The gold leaf keeps that touch cold; the formal elaborations keep the gold a quality rather than a substance. Even as we are lured, we are (or at least suppose ourselves) not fooled. Zadikian has produced objects that are desirable despite their physical and formal content, not because of it. They are desirable as artworks, not as lumps of gold or sexual partners.

In its dispersal of traditional signs and expectations, modernist abstraction set the stage for the virtual world of digital experience that now envelops us. In these sculptures Zadikian gathers back up those signs and expectations, only to demonstrate how their conflation now means something different, how they now inter-fere with rather than enhance each other’s discrete worth. These objects have a powerful physicality to them, of course, that counters the disembodied virtuality of the cybernetic universe. But they still challenge our notions about our own inbred responses in the actual world. The power Zadikian’s objects have over us is their ability to control and compromise the things that once had such basic power over us. In the digital age, Zadikian, a Goldfinger in reverse, turns the body into stone, turning gold into skin. This is a kind of alchemy, a magic rearrangement of information that prefigures, and possibly obviates, the computer. All art should be no less.

Peter Frank
Los Angeles
August 2008
ZADIK ZADIKIAN: LUST AND LUSTER

http://zadikzadikian.com/blog/


Biography from Maloney Fine Art:
For the past three decades, since his arrival in the US in 1969, Zadik Zadikian has focused his attention on the creation of restrained, minimal forms, which straddle figuration and abstraction.   

Since his early gilded interior installations and minimal stacks of gold-leafed bricks, created in New York City in the late 70s and early 80s, Zadikian has continued to create objects of desire, sculpted in gold leafed and electroplated bronze and Hydrocal.  Zadikian has built a career around the historical properties of fetishized objects and the mystical powers of gold, recalling Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian and Helenistic cultures.  Zadikian’s sculpture refers to heroic and archaic histories with the restraint and aestheticism of a minimalist.

Zadikian studied at the Art Academy of Erevan, South Armenia.  He has exhibited internationally and is included in many public collections.

Zadik Zadikain lives and works in Los Angeles.

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