Ara Berberyan is a talented artist. His art will blow you away with its passion and varied color palettes, sometimes flowing and subtle, at other times daring, even bold. Each penetrating portrait gives you a glimpse of an inner world, and often, his own brand of social commentary. On first meeting him, however, what comes through is his sweet warmth and kindness, his inclination to connect, even with someone he’s never met. “Call me ‘Arbe,’” he said, when approached for this donor interview.
What is it like to live the life of an artist? What does Arbe see when he looks at a blank canvas and what drove him to donate, rather than sell his car? Arbe Berberyan was more than happy to share about his life, his work, and why he chose donation:
Kars4Kids: You were quite young when your first exhibition was held. Can you tell us about that, please?
Ara Berberyan: I had my first exhibition at the age of twelve (12). In 1970, 65 paintings were sent around by the USSR government on an international tour called “The World by Children’s Eyes.” The exhibition visited France, Italy, Canada and United States.
Kars4Kids: Which artists inspire you most? What of their influences might we see in your work?
Ara Berberyan: I was inspired by Dali, Picasso, Titian, Rembrandt and Klimt.
Kars4Kids: Why portraits? What do these allow you to express? Do you have specific people in mind as you paint?
Ara Berberyan: Portraits help me understand people, their feelings, and to express the beauty I see everywhere and in everyone.
Kars4Kids: Do you think about your audience as you paint and what they would like to see—or do you just paint from the heart? A blending of both, perhaps?
Ara Berberyan: I do think about my audience, but everything I paint is from the heart.
Kars4Kids: You grew up in Soviet Armenia, the son of a famed artist in his own right. What was it like being part of the art world in that environment and how did these formative years impact your work today?
Ara Berberyan: It was incredible being surrounded by artists, actors, musicians and writers, hearing their stories, ideas and learning from their experiences.
Kars4Kids: When did you leave for the US? How and why did you leave?
Ara Berberyan: I came to the US in 1984. It was hard to leave the country I was born in and loved. But I had to.
Kars4Kids: Do you think the memory of the Armenian genocide influences your work, and if so, can you tell us about that? Why do you think it is taking so long for the world to recognize what happened?
Ara Berberyan: I don’t think there is an Armenian who has not been impacted by this genocide. The reason the world has not recognized the genocide of 1,500,000 Armenians, a peaceful population including women and children (WHICH WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN) is world politics.
Kars4Kids: Can you tell us a bit about the car you donated?
Ara Berberyan: It was a great and safe car. I enjoyed driving it.
Kars4Kids: In addition to your car, you also offered to donate a numbered artwork—a very valuable offering! What made you choose Kars4Kids as the recipient of so much generosity?
Ara Berberyan: Kars4Kids is a great organization helping kids in need. I am hoping that by donating this car I will help some kids to realize some of their needs. And as I said I will donate a numbered, limited edition artwork for the same reason.
Kars4Kids: You chose to make a charitable donation of your car, when you could have sold or junked it. Why donation?
Ara Berberyan: I think it is the right thing to do because NO KID SHOULD BE IN NEED.
Kars4Kids: What’s next in the life of Ara (Arbe) Berberyan?
Ara Berberyan: Only good things. Enjoying my family, my grandson, and my art.