gary deirmendjian selected works

out of existence 2005 - 06



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:::: 80cm (height) x 4.8m x 4.8m (footprint of entire work)
:::: bisque fired clay heads, soaked with Indian ink
:::: other media: MDF board and acrylic paint
:::: weight per head 50kg (approx.)


artist statement

Three apparently identical torn heads have each come to rest differently, directly upon the ground and poised structurally unaided. They were modelled individually and are pure inventions – i.e. unreferenced to any model or image.
They are housed within a square defined by the reddened edges of a surrounding man-made field. The red runs outwardly towards the viewer.

The viewer is physically excluded from the heads but may easily enter the square by stepping over the finely touching corners. To the viewer this may not at first be obvious, and even after realization there may be some hesitation to join the heads.

It is not a work about death. It is more about the weight and price of gained insight and the certain dignity that accompanies it.


essey in response to the work, by Rhianna Walcott, August 2010

Works such as out of existence - a trio of bisque fired ceramic sculptures of detached heads - present us with a unique and personal interpretation of an everyday moment or feeling experienced by society en masse. These three oversized severed human heads, which look as though they have been haphazardly flung across the floor like dice, allude to the contradictory binary nature of the human experience and the way in which it encapsulates both the 'oneness' of humanity along with the sometimes isolating nature of individuality.

Fragile and delicate works painstakingly crafted on a scale rarely achieved in the medium of ceramics, these works show an attention to detail that you cannot help but admire. Veins pop out and protrude from the foreheads, facial expressions display an astonishing verisimilitude, even the inside of the eardrum and the cavity within have not been neglected or forgotten. The finish, which is achieved through the application of Indian ink, lends each head an almost leathery quality which makes them appear so tactile you want to do the forbidden and touch the artworks, especially those torn tendons which trail from the base of the head.

The synchronicity with which each viewer experiences a deep seated and almost primordial response to these sculptures is contrasted with the way in which we individually feel this reaction to be deeply personal, unique and inexplicable. Tolstoy elucidates this in his 1896 treatise What is Art?, in which he describes art as being an important means of communicating or expressing aspects of the human condition; in evoking particular feelings and experiences which cannot be expressed in words or in a manner which is easily understood by all.

This is a sentiment that is clearly expressed in Gary Deirmendjian's practice, with the artist himself describing his own understanding of art as being 'a suggestive form of inarticulate communication.'

A myriad of words can be found to describe the physicality of works such as out of existence. Awe inspiring, intensity and power immediately spring to mind, yet the emotional response experienced upon viewing Deirmendjian's work remains difficult to articulate.

To try and describe in writing what a viewer should or might expect to feel or experience upon encountering these works would be redundant. Instead, the idea of the Ekphrasis - an artistic mode instigated by the ancient Greeks where a work in another art form was created (be it painting, literature, music or drama) in response to an admired work to share in the emotional experience - seems a much more relevant way in which to pay tribute to these works.

Sometimes though, it's not enough to just take someone else's word for it - you just have to go and see it for yourself...