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Varujan Boghosian opens the season at Victoria Munroe Fine Art

Posted by Sebastian Smee  September 13, 2011 07:21 PM

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boghosian Swan_Serpent.jpgHello Boston! Finally back from five weeks vacation in Australia just in time to tell you about... Varujan Boghosian!

A veteran of the Boston art scene, Boghosian is a maker of immaculate and incomparably poetic collages and sculptural assemblages. He lives in Hanover, N.H., where he allegedly has three studios filled with discarded stuff waiting to find a second life in art, and teaches at Dartmouth College.

I saw a show of his work at the St Botolph Club in Boston earlier in the year, and heard fellow artist Steven Trefonides speak about Boghosian with the respect, warmth, and wit that are obviously at the heart of their friendship.

Boghosian's work I love for its elegance. He has been criticized for this elegance in the past by some who believe collage should be all about disarray and dissonance. For Boghosian, however, whose recent collages kick off the season at Victoria Munroe Fine Art on Newbury Street (through October 29), it is much more about rhymes, echoes, and exquisite composition. He has collage's equivalent of perfect pitch - and yet most of his best works also contain that pinch of poison that seems to lurk beneath all great art.

Boghosian Orpheous_Euradice.jpgThis recent work is inspired by Boghosian's rediscovery of a copy of Audubon's "Birds of America." Two particular images in the book - of the Common American Swan and the Trumpeter Swan - set his imagination going, and the resulting works riff on everything from fairy tales and Greek Myths to Proust (see "A Swan for Marcel," below) They confect sheer delight.

Boghosian Swan_for_Marcel.jpgThey're different to the collages of other masters of the medium (in these parts alone, there's plenty of competition: I rate the older John O'Reilly and the younger Selena Kimball in particular). They're openly sentimental - if we can think of the word not as the common pejorative it has in art become but as meaning "full of sentiment."

And they really are ... just so. 

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About the author

The Boston Globe Journalist Series: Sebastian Smee
Sebastian Smee is the Globe's art critic, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He joined the paper's staff from Sydney, where he served as the national art critic for The Australian. He can be reached at ssmee@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @SebastianSmee. Read Smee's full bio.

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