John Coolvart is an architerctural design student from Armenia who now lives in Milan. During his free time he enjoys listening to music and putting together various collages. The latter caught our eye when we came across the young artist’s Instagram profile, which currently serves as his online portfolio for art projects, and we were instantly drawn to the complicated and particularly dark nature of his work. Below you can find a little chat we had with John as well as some exclusive visuals he did for us using material from various previously published Chasseur editorials.
Define what art means to you and how you personally experience it in the city of Milan.
I avoid that word as much as possible in practice as I find it to be extremely limiting. I try to call things by their technical names. In a visual or sound piece I look for harmony and aesthetic value and the rest just fall into place. Not really feeling Milan. The people are beautiful but I don’t have that many strong connections. There are a few places I find myself returning to– Fondazione Prada, the PAC, Spazio Oberdan, but that’s about it. I stay inside as much as possible and I am still very much under the influence of places I’ve lived in before such as Armenia, Russia, and Iran. My ethnic background has a defining role in pretty much everything I do.
Is there a specific creative process you usually follow regarding your works?
There is always music around. I usually select a specific album or artist depending on the mood I’m going for in a particular work. Other than that it’s not very organised. I can create at any hour of the day, it comes to me without schedule. Sitting down and thinking about what I want the resulting piece to look like is rare. Unless I have a certain vision that I’d like to accomplish, it is pointless. As for self-portrait photos that I eventually use in some of my works it is very formulaic indeed. I spend up to an hour arranging the settings and outfits or the lack thereof.
What makes any imagery special enough for you to choose it for an upcoming project?
Forms. I study architecture so I have a developing technical skill to detect which forms will eventually work well together and which won’t. Also recently I moved (possibly permanently) to a b/w palette so I search for images that already look good without any colours. Found material is not easy to work with so often I have to compromise, but it’s not an issue in the big scheme.
A good look at your Instagram feed reveals a certain fixation with following different aesthetic patterns for specific periods of time. Is that something perpetual or should we assume that there is more to it?
A lot of things about what I do depend on the mood I had at the time of making them. It’s not very logical. Sometimes I might notice that a particular piece I did is receiving more attention than I thought it would, so I’ll focus on creating more pieces in that same vein. In contrast to that the black and white pattern was definitely not very popular with people at first. I felt very comfortable however, so I continued despite minimal support. Colour can be quite polarising. It either limits our perception of forms and perspective in visual media or it exaggerates them – sometimes not quite tastefully. I appreciate it but it’s not for me or my works.
What are your short and long term plans?
I’m working with a couple of photographers and friends from overseas on various projects. Very diverse stuff that help me widen the horizons of what I can and cannot do.Hopefully I can get a website up soon– that’s in the works too–with a decent portfolio so anyone with an interest can have better access to the works. Long term I hope to successfully wrap up my studies and travel more.