Gallery Girl meets Luska

Semi-nude and not quite smiling, Luska’s characters stare out at their audience, as though they know something that they’re never going to reveal to you. They are often painted in strained, contorted positions; sometimes smoking a cigarette, and occasionally they may be accompanied by a crow. It’s almost as if they are haunting you or, someone at least, but not in a menacing way. In fact, there is a tinge of fragility to each of these fictional characters. The women – most of the time they are women – are painted in thick tones of red and green, which has been allowed to drip down the page, adding another layer of depth and mystery. Gallery Girl spoke to Luska about these mysterious figures, as well as about music, travel and graffiti.

Luska has been painting since she was a child, but only turned her attention to graffiti after moving to Paris in 2010. “I didn’t have an artist’s studio, so I turned to street art, and used abandoned trains as my canvas”, she explains, “You’re painting for the moment. Then it’s forever gone.” Her work, which is predominantly graffiti and mixed media, is strongly influenced by travel. And, having been born in Yerevan, Armenia, Luska has lived in nine cities ever since leaving Armenia at the age of 14.

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In many of her paintings, especially the Helico Rose series, there is a recurring helicopter motif. Sometimes the character clutches onto the vehicle, and often it is flying around in the foreground or background. Painted in Paris between 2011 and 2014, this helicopter represents Luska’s constant travelling. “I was looking for a symbol to represent my nomadic lifestyle, and one day I made a helicopter stencil and started incorporating it in my paintings”, she says, “It became a recurring motif and soon entire paintings were revolved around it.”

As well as paint, Luska has also worked with virtual reality, having previously teamed up with the company Arloopa to bring her works from two into three-dimension with the help of an app on your smartphone. “The future of art is interactive”, explains Luska, “You’re no longer a voyeur standing in front of an art piece, but instead, you’re inside it, fully emerged and interacting with it.” This collaboration took place in Armenia, through the help Armenian Hayp Pop Up Gallery. “Armenian startups are doing amazing things these days and I’m very proud of that”, adds Luska.

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Luska’s interest in technology must have been inspired by her time in California. “San Fran has an amazing art and tech scene as well, which was definitely inspiring for me. I also loved how freely people expressed their identities”, she says, “After that I would say [the most inspiring place I have lived is] Yerevan, London, Prague and Paris.”

As well as being a visual artist, Luska is also a rapper and filmmaker, and is focusing on making new music in 2019. “Music is the highest form of art for me and that’s my I’m so excited to finally be making music since last year”, she explains, “I’m planning on finishing my album this year. I’m looking forward to a 3d animated music video that I’m creating at the moment with very talented people involved. Other exciting projects coming up as well, stay tuned!”

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She is the founder of Gallery Girl - a London-based curatorial platform and website dedicated to modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Her work is primarily focused on supporting emerging female artists from the Middle East and the Caucasus. She has written for Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, Suitcase and Vice Arabia among other publications. Her exhibitions in London and Armenia have been featured in Vogue Arabia, The Art Newspaper, The Art Gorgeous and numerous other news outlets. Gallery Girl has also spoken in the UK, UAE and Belgium about the contemporary art scene in the MENA region, and is planning further events in London and Amman.

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