“In early 2017 I spent three months working on a film portrait of the artist VAHAKN ARSLANIAN. His father is Armenian, who grew up in Antwerp and he was my mother’s first friend at 13, her best friend. So I grew up with VAHAKN. He always used to scare me as a kid, he’d lock me in closets, things like that, but basically, he is like a brother to me.
“He is someone who cannot communicate with the world without making art. So I thought it was important to share the space of my show at the Villa Marin in Venice with this film about VAHAKN, and his work too, because what it IS to be an artist, is to be around your contemporaries, to have a dialogue with other people that are making things, because you are around people that understand you. And its not a conversation, it’s just their presence that makes you feel understood, and that’s what keeps you going.
“VAHAKN can only hear at around 30 percent, so the soundtrack to the film is all these very visceral, vibrational sounds, like airplanes taking off… That’s why he has this obsession with painting certain things, like lightbulbs, or broken glass. He smashes things and puts them back together since he was about 6 years old. He frames things in airplane windows, old windows, he is obsessed with old glass which has these milky waves in it. He also paints a lot of birds because he can hear that high-pitched sound, and airplanes, for the motor.” – LOLA MONTES SCHNABEL interviewed by HANNAH BHUIYA.