Artist Minas Halaj Lockdown Special

Artist Minas Halaj shares with us what he has been up to during the period of lockdown.

Right now I am... at my Studio starting my morning with a cup of coffee.

At the moment I am working on... my new painting “ BUTTERFLY #9 “ (shown here in the studio).

Artist Minas Halaj in his studio with his latest work 'Butterfly #9'

Over the course of lockdown, I have challenged myself to… during this lockdown we all receiving information about CoVid-19. Some of them full of negativity. On research we are trying to find out which one is good for us so I challenged myself to not believe and listen to so much information.

My proudest moment during lockdown has been… although the world stopped, I was proud that I could spend my entire day working in my studio. Usually, I spent my weekends going out and relaxing, visiting my friends, spending times at the local bar where there were always great performers with beautiful musicians. Due to pandemic lowdown, in the blink of an eye everything disappeared so I am now much more likely to spend time at the studio than at the regular normal days.

My biggest mistake this year was.... buying tickets for all my family members to travel for a summer vacation.

Recently I’ve been inspired by... the work of American artist Mike Kelley.

Lockdown has been great for my creativity because... when the whole world got canceled, the only happiness for me is the work in the studio.

When I’m stuck for ideas I usually… take a break from the studio and try to spend time in nature.

I have always been fascinated by artists who… have played an important role in the world of international art and its history. 

Lockdown inspires me to try a new way of working because… it gave me a  new source of inspiration to make a new paintings. Politics is the main topic for a lot of artists in all centuries. 

The biggest thing I have learnt in lockdown is... to be prepared for everything and always think positive.

When I was a child I dreamt of… being an astronaut and to fly to the cosmos. But I decided to be an artist and still keeping the fight in my soul.

My first job was… it may sound weird but I never had a job in my life....

My first big love was…when I was a little kid, every day I was always trying to escape to my father's studio and spend more and more time there, because I fell in love with the smell of oil paints and turpentine. I believe that’s why I got addicted to art.

The first piece of art I ever bought was… I never had a chance to collect art in my life, but I do collect old books and vintage textiles. Also I am very lucky that a couple of years ago I was in a flea market and someone approached me with a Bernard Buffet’s original hand signed lithograph, so unconsciously I became collector.

My favorite record cover of all time is…. “ The Velvet Underground ” cover of the record published in 1967.

The best film I have seen in lockdown is…  I saw only one movie and it was a documentary “ Dirty Money “.

If I could see any musician (past or present) performing live, it would beJimi Hendrix live in Woodstock.

In the film of my life I would like to be played by… Billy Zane, because I know him and he has great appreciation for my art and is a big lover of my art. I think no one will be played my character better than him.

My Avatar would be… the Floral Mind series.

My guilty pleasure over lockdown has been… thinking too much about the past and of the good old days when we were allowed to travel and go to different places.... 

Over lockdown I’ve found myself cooking…. I always love cooking and experimenting with different dishes. I love cooking New York style steak but during lockdown I made pizza with my special pizza dough.

My lockdown routine includes… I usually wakes up at 8 am, making some great Armenian style coffee, tasting some bagels , and 9 am I ‘m on my way to my studio. I’m getting there 9:15 am and working until sunset. I come back home in the evening and spending time with my beautiful family.

The last thing I do before I go to bed each night is… think about an unfinished painting, trying to memorise in my head what I need to do tomorrow .

The last thing I dreamt in lockdown was…. traveling. Because this month I was supposed to be in my homeland but that didn’t happened.

I am currently reading… the diaries of Andrei Tarkovsky.

If I could be a mythical creature I would be… a minotaur. I think my name comes from Greek mythology.

If I was offered a billion dollars on the condition I had to give it all away, I would… I would deposit all to my cat's account.

Post-lockdown, the first place I plan to travel to is…. Lake Tahoe is going to be the first place I will travel to post-lockdown.

If air travel was no longer possible I would… travel like in old times by ship.

If I were a superhero I would be… hahaha! I don't believe in superheroes but I believe in heroes from our history. I believe in real persons, humans who are saving lives and changing the history like...  the medical professionals.

And my costume would be… honestly, at that point it would be more important what I do than how I would dress up... it is too materialistic for me; but for now the best costume will be face mask and gloves.

If my art could work for a worthy cause, I would dedicate it to… the doctors that are working and looking after us.

I imagine the post-lockdown future to be… I think this pandemic is going to be around for some time. I think the world is not going to be the same anymore.

If I could live in any one period of time, I would choose… I definitely would choose to live in this modern days. I think we are living in a very important time of evaluation in humanity. The humans being is more free and yet more controlled.

The most valuable lesson I have learned through lockdown is… to appreciate the every day, your relatives, your close friends... without them we are nobody.

The craziest thing I have done this year was… Burning one of my paintings.

If I were to get a tattoo to remember my lockdown experience, it would be… a symbol of the coronavirus.

Now is the time for artists to go digital because…. we are in the position to do it right now because of CoVid 19 and lots of people are in lockdown and that's why we need to change to digital to catch up to all these changes and to promote and to put art on digital platforms to be available for everybody.

I do think artists have a responsibility to push the boundaries and… dive deep into his soul and research himself and finds his own mentality and unique style.

I do believe artists are best placed to understand the future before everyone else because… we are honest with ourselves and are not afraid to express our thoughts and beliefs.

They say fact is stranger than fiction because… this is a very controversial issue because there will be no facts without fiction and everything starts from fiction. But on the other hand with the fact you need to adapt, but the fiction is what you make up.

If I wasn’t so busy making art I would like to….  still make art because I cannot do anything else. I tried to do some jobs but very soon I got bored.

In the next year I hope to achieve… to make larger scale size paintings.