Artist Spotlight: Osheen Harruthoonyan

This week’s StandardVision artist spotlight on the SVLA1 screen at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles features work by experimental photographer Osheen Harruthoonyan. Harruthoonyan is the latest of many artists to be invited to take over a two week-long recurring 15-second spot to showcase their work to the public.

Born in Tehran, Iran, Osheen Harruthoonyan is an Armenian biologist and photographer who merges movement with themes of cultural heritage and renewal. Hand printed on gelatin silver paper, his limited-edition prints bring together images of the micro – the sun, Saturn, mount Ararat – with the micro – specks of dust, tiny organisms – to create a new perspective of the world around us, challenging our perception of familiar sights and landscapes through interweaving themes of hope and wonder into the visual narratives we interact with on a daily basis. Osheen’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibits, collections and publications, most recently at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Louvre in Paris, as well as features on Vice!, Bravo! Arts, Space Channel, and the CBC’s “Exhibitionists”.

Osheen Harruthoonyan’s work represents the transient nature of time, space and memory he experienced as a young refugee escaping the Iraq war. A kaleidoscope of butterflies is born. Bluebirds take the place of distant constellations. A young girl swallows a star. 

Telescope and microscope are the warp and weft of what clearly becomes a story of renewal. Weaving together the familiar and foreign, Harruthoonyan pushes the viewer to question their subconscious states – much the way he was pushed, as a child, to reconsider language and identity. 

His willingness to take risks within the confines of the traditional photographic process makes this representational capacity possible. A negative, he insists, should be deconstructed and studied the same way a scientist might dissect a frog to learn the mechanics of its motion through water. He begins with finding what he can take away from an image, noting that the act of removing integral pieces of an image encourages viewers to focus on atmosphere, space and feeling. Afterward, unique combinations of shapes and negative space encourage the brain to shift its usual process of interpreting an image. Finally, replacing defining characteristics of a subject with something unexpected encourages the viewer to reach for new narratives. 

The analog process creates a permanency that, in its own way, is a reminder of the fleeting nature of the very journeys they challenge us to reconsider. His pieces, Harruthoonyan comments, will last long beyond the life cycles of their subjects.

You can catch Harruthoonyan’s work on the SVLA1 screen through 3/31 as well as on his website here.