Despite his youth and lack of ‘professional’ education, David Galstyan has already achieved a reputation as a unique voice among the already vibrant group of emerging Armenian photographers. His highly personal brand of photography, which combines elements of dance, painting and cinema, fits uneasily within contemporary photographic practice in Armenia.
Trained as an actor at the State Theatre Institute in Yerevan, his work embraces the medium’s propensity towards performative expression. As such, he stands apart from both the documentary and conceptual tendencies prevalent in Armenian photography, exploring instead some of the modernist traditions more in line with his formalist approach.
Utilising the ability of camera to transform the contextual parameters of space, Galstyan unlocks the dramatic potential of his locations – with or without the use of models. A key feature in his work is the investigation of the relationship between the human body and architecture. Much like the Czech neo-expressionist Jan Saudek, Galstyan draws attention to the metaphysical qualities of the spaces that appear in his delicately shaded photographs (printed on PVC for added luminosity). They are surreal visions which remain outside place or time. are which remain outside place or time. The modernist utopia once again becomes a dream, but an inverted one – an expressionistic nightmare. The dystopian tone of these imaginary landscapes suggests the inevitability of decay. Yet for Galstyan, there is also an immense, sublime beauty in the terrifying process of ruination that is background to many of his more personal images. Through strategic use of digital manipulation, the body itself is seen as an unstable structure on the verge of dissipation, effortlessly rendering the inherent fragility of the human condition.
Galstyan shares his practice between personal and commercial projects. Much in demand as a fashion and portrait photographer, he brings the same intensity and mesmerising aesthetic to his subjects, regardless of the nature of the assignment.