Alexandra Manukyan

Alexandra Manukyan

Biography Alexandra Manukyan

I was born and raised in Armenia. Since a very young age my parents engaged me in various after school programs, but at the age of 11 I urged them to take me to an art school. After art school I graduated from Fine Art College, and later from State Pedagogical University where I majored in Teaching Fine Arts. When we immigrated in 1990 to the US, I realised that it’s going to be very hard for an artist to earn a living, so I decided to graduate from a Fashion Design school. After working for many years as a Fashion Designer at some point in my career I had to learn graphic design and stylised fabrics and do screen prints, so I had to take courses at UCLA, and some additional private classes in graphic design.

Later when I became really proficient in graphic design and various graphic applications I started freelancing for different Entertainment Agencies and designed movie posters. I focus on combining traditional oil painting techniques with surrealist symbolism to communicate the immediate and lasting impact of technological innovations on the human body and psyche. One recurring motif in my paintings often appears as the feminine form bearing the burdens of worldly grief and mistakes on her body bowing in resignation to a seemingly inevitable fate: the acquiescence of the corporeal state to the encroaching dominance of modern technologies conjoining itself like an apathetic demon of silicon and circuitry cursing more than fulfilling promises of beauty and comfort.

Thinking through and preparing the compositions for my paintings is an elaborate process, and sometimes it takes me months to start a painting. I always think of a series and start doing several pieces to each series. I sew and make some of the costumes you see in my paintings. Before starting a series, I sketch out my ideas, have a solid understanding of images I want to depict, and what models I’m going to hire, as well as what kind of clothing I need to make or rent for my heroes. My compositions take weeks, and sometimes months, to finish.

I always start with imprimatur, meaning an initial stain of color in raw umber. It provides me with an evenly toned ground. Then I start drawing my objects, paying very close attention to the accuracy. After the drawing layer is dry, I build the under-painting layer. After I let these two layers completely dry, I start painting successive layers of colors, giving each layer time to dry before applying the next coat of paint. My final stages are glazes, which are semi-transparent layers.