Depicting Armenia in Another Light: The Creative Voyage of Karishok Dulyan

Written by Hena Aposhian

02 January 2024

“I entered the art world at a very young age,” explains the Armenian artist Karishok Dulyan, who held her very first solo exhibition of her 32 artworks, when she was only five years old. Born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia, Karishok’s parents were quick to pick up on her passion for drawing, so they signed her up for art classes from as early as she can remember.

The young artist then pursued a degree in architecture in Yerevan and obtained a Master’s Degree in Arts and New Technologies from the European University of Madrid and a Master’s in Urban Design from Madrid Polytechnic University. Although she started by pursuing a career as an architect, Karishok believes that she maintained that deep connection to art, as she kept taking various art classes and workshops even when she was studying architecture. 

It wasn’t until 2020 that Karishok decided to turn painting into her full-time job. “All my life I felt that the thing that thrills me the most and gives me the most satisfaction is painting by hand, but some kind of fear, maybe a fear of not being able to earn my living through art, was always stopping me from becoming a full-time artist,” she explains. Like anyone else in the world, COVID-19 forced Karishok to stay at home, which led her to paint more. She was painting so frequently that she even started posting her paintings online and people started to buy them. 

“My artistic style is characterized by a focus on cityscapes. Some of them are realistic watercolors, others more abstract, using acrylics, collages, and a mix of different media. I aim to capture the beauty and essence of urban environments, emphasizing details, nuances, and the interplay of light. My paintings are very different, but they all contain a portion of my love towards life and this world.”

The main themes in Karishok’s artworks revolve around urban landscapes, cityscapes, and the unique characters that each place possesses. Through her urban paintings, the artist tries to also include the characters of people who live in those environments. “A lot of people complain that they don’t like the chaos and disorder in the architecture of my birthplace, Yerevan, but after seeing my paintings, they have started to see a peculiar beauty in that chaos.” The message of her artworks is to show people that there is beauty even where they least expect it and to guide them through it. Her art aims to convey the beauty and harmony in urban life, promoting the themes of love, peace, and cosmopolitanism.

Since spring 2020, Karishok has participated in many group shows and had eight solo exhibitions, including “Make Love Not War” in the House-Museum of Aram Khachaturian in Yerevan, in the Parliamentary Library of Georgia in Tbilisi, “Notes from Sun City” in Pasadena, and in Saint Andrew Apostolic Church in Cupertino (CA,) and more.

When asked how her personal life influenced her art, Karishok saidthat she gets inspired by everything that she is interested in, such as the books she reads, and lectures she enjoys about neuroscience, behavioral biology, cognitive science, and physiology. “I draw inspiration from my surroundings, experiences as an architect, and my love for people and culture. My art reflects the admiration I have for life, my innate optimism and ability to see beauty in places where others may not.”

However, Karishok admits that the teacher who greatly influenced me during my student years later became my soulmate, and he was next to me when I decided to start selling my artwork in 2020. In fact, he was the one who bought the first artwork from me then.” 

When it comes to her Armenian identity, the artist shows how that is embedded in her art through the choice of subjects, colors, and the essence of the landscapes she depicts.

“On all the postcards and touristic guidebooks, we only focus on the best-looking sights and views in Armenia, but that’s not us, that’s not sincere. Go into the backyards and see the household, the everyday life, the way each family has changed their part of the condo façade according to their taste and possibilities, how the old people play backgammon, how every housewife has her own way of hanging the linen over the ropes all over the yard and a color coding of clothes and clothespins?” Karishok believes that this is our Armenian reality, and she wants people to see and appreciate that part of it. 

The techniques Karishok uses in her artworks vary between watercolor, acrylics, ink, pastel, and pencils. She likes to experiment and mix to see how they turn out when mixed, as she likes to try new things. However, the main message that she tries to convey in all of her artworks is love, peace, and appreciation of the world around us. “As you most probably know, on our way of evolution, we have passed many stages of different other creatures. But the most recent evolutionary change was separating from Chimpanzees and Bonobos, although they are very different from one another.” She even goes further in detail and describes how chimps are aggressive, like humans. However, Bonobos are quite different; before any conflict, the female apes make an offer– they start to make love, and as a result, the conflict is resolved. “I don’t know why we evolved into such aggressive beings, but I would rather if our branch of primates had gone by a Bonobo-like path of development.” Many of her paintings are a reflection of her dreams of people being more wise and friendly towards one another, just like Bonobos.

Her contribution to the Armenian art scene is done by depicting the beauty of everyday Armenia. One of Karishok’s main aims is to create a sense of connection and understanding among people from different cultures through her pieces. “To all new Armenian artists, I would advise you to listen less to what is conventional, practice listening to yourselves and create what resonates with you, and don’t be afraid to experiment and evolve in your artistic journey.”

In terms of future projects, Karishok plans to continue exhibiting her art internationally, with the goal of sharing the beauty of Armenian landscapes and urban life with the whole world. 

One of her latest exhibitions was a charitable sale collaboration with the Transparent Armenia Charity Foundation to help the displaced families of Artsakh. “I was happy to have collected more than one million Armenian drams in just a week, exhibiting all the works I had ready and framed at the moment.” Karishok shares that this exhibition in particular was a very uplifting experience, as many people showed up and were happy to attend an exhibition like hers during times when everybody was feeling depressed and tired of bad news (Artsakh Dissolution). 

For the future, Karishok only hopes that her works and exhibitions will continue to bring people more joy and the urge to help other people. She wants her art to multiply the total amount of happiness in the world.