Paintings of Modernia

Paintings of Modernia

Sam Kissajukian
Fri 26 Jul 2024   -  Fri 20 Sep 2024
Tues - Sun (11am - 5pm)
Sam Kissajukian

A bold exhibition with a comedic bent that explores the ineffable mental states of a comedian turned artist living with Bipolar. In 2021 Australian comedian Sam Kissajukian created 300 Paintings during a manic Bipolar episode. The outcome was an intense period of self-teaching, diagnosis and reflection. This experience is detailed in the performance 300 Paintings held Summerhall’s Tech Cube Zero during the Edinburgh Fringe, which acts a precursor to this exhibition. See page 21.

This current exhibition highlights work from the last two years that explores the unique mental states associated with complex emotions, being a performer and living with Bipolar. The exhibition won Adelaide Fringe’s 2024 The Eran Svigos award for Best Visual Art for Solo Exhibition.

‘Here’s something I regret. This painting was my attempt to show the relationship between anxiety and avoidance. The landscape is populated with all the thoughts and ideas you have when moving towards a goal. The sky is where you hang anything not related to your goal, to do later. Eventually, the landscape of your mind reaches a saturation point and your “to do list” in the sky becomes full. You become acutely aware of the weight hanging over you so avoid looking up, but your mind is so overpopulated that the anxiety is overwhelming. You think, “If I can just get to my goal then everything hanging over me won’t matter.” Soon, the joy of the goal withers away and the sky becomes so heavy that it collapses onto you in an apocalyptic mental disaster, and that’s when anxiety meets avoidance.

I understand this description is too intense for a wall label. So, when I first exhibited this work, I just wrote “Where’s Wally”. One day a man came up to me and said, “I’ve been searching for 4 hours and I can’t find him”. I paused awkwardly, long enough for him to scream, “Nooooooooo!” and storm out. So, that’s something I regret. But, who knows, maybe he is there.’