Karo Alexanian was born in Georgia in 1956. He graduated from the Yerevan School of Fine Arts in Armenia and studied painting at the Studio of Painting and Graphic Arts in Moscow, where he was assigned important mural commissions. He has lived in Quebec since 1997, has been a member of the international Union of Artists since 1994, and has exhibited his works across Europe, the United States and Canada.
At first glance, Karo’s portraits and still lifes seem to be derived from the great ancient Egyptian frescoes. Figures and objects from daily life are reproduced using a strikingly fresh combination of simple lines, colours and texture. Described by the artist as "primitive contemporary," the work is akin to studied observation – a generalization of form that allows the artist to free up the essential and transform it with gesture. As a result of this process, portraits are reduced to a combination of singular planes – faces become masks and yet still reflect the interior harmony of the subjects.
Karo is adamant, however, that the emphasis of his art is not on technique. "I am always trying to incorporate a spiritual side to my work," he says, "something I find strangely absent from a lot of modern art". The position of the figures in Décision I and II, for example, suggest a basic emotional state. Facial expressions are not required for the viewer to empathize with the quandary that Karo’s subjects are experiencing. In Décision I, the subject seems almost paralyzed as to what direction to take while the stark, worrisome eye of the vase goads the person onwards. In Décision II, the figure is again placed in an almost bare room with an accompanying still life; however, in this case the subject is slightly hunched over, almost too resigned to consider any options. Karo’s style is very reminiscent of Dallaire, but his subject matter suggests something much more emotional and provocative.