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New York-based Armenian artist uses smoke to explore the fragility of life and death


  
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New York-based Armenian artist Mher Khachatryan is intrigued by the grace he sees in smoke and fire, linking it to the wonder of life and death.

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He depicts scenes in smoke created with oil on canvas, and although – especially in light of recent, tragic events – smoke isn’t generally seen as something positive, Mher looks to find beauty in it as an art form, Metro reports.

Although he is obsessed with the stuff, ironically, the artist has never tried smoking as he’s always been aware of its health risks.

‘When I was very young, one of my favorite commercials was the Marlboro commercial, where you saw this strong cowboys riding the horse in the beautiful nature and you wish you were one of them,’ said Khachatryan.

‘But the reality of the beautiful commercial was not very beautiful. Wayne McLaren, who once portrayed the “Marlboro Man” died after a long battle with lung cancer.

‘Some of his last words were: “Take care of the children. Tobacco will kill you, and I am living proof of it”.’

Khachatryan was asked to show his work at the World No Tobacco Day in May this year.

The artist first became interested in art at just five years old, and began drawing soon after.

He later began painting when he discovered his uncle’s paintings.

After being self-taught for years, he attended the Hakob Kojoyan art school in Yerevan in Armenia, and then the Art college of Panos Terlemezyan, before upping sticks and heading for the bright lights of the USA.

He started using smoke in his paintings because: ‘it reminds us of our own life, how it can just start and finish and we have no control over it’.

His next exhibition will be in Michigan, USA, at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum Grand Rapids, in September, and it will depict scenes from 9/11.

The exhibition will be dedicated to the victims of the 2001 terrorist attack.

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