NEW YORK — Considering the times we are living through, an unusually interesting evening lecture took place on March 8 dedicated to contemporary art in the Middle East, especially Arab, Persian and Islamic art. It had greater significance because it took place in the heart of Manhattan, at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
The hall originally allocated for the lecture on March 8 turned out to be too small for the audience and therefore, prior to the start time of 7 p.m., the program was transferred to a larger hall.
Dr. Anny Bakalian welcomed the guests and introduced the lecturer. The latter has more than 20 years of experience in the world of international art, having worked at great art shows and auction houses, especially at the White Cube Gallery of London, where she lived while a student, and Phillips in New York. In 2011 she joined the auction firm Sotheby’s as a senior specialist of contemporary international art, and of Middle Eastern and North African contemporary art in particular. She became vice president of the firm’s contemporary art division. In 2015 she opened her own firm, Agopian, dedicated to world art.
Agopian took an interesting and successful path in her profession. Her first collaboration was with the artist Mona Hatoum, a Lebanese of Palestinian background who innovated by drawing her works with parts of her own body instead of with brushes and pencils. Agopian always worked to encourage female artists, and had as her social focus the promotion of equality and reciprocal respect as part of the social mentality of the peoples of the Middle East. She succeeded in equally valuing and evaluating males and females as artists. Consequently, Hatum’s works received international recognition.
Agopian’s great love and dedication to her work comes from her parents, and in particular, from her mother, Vicki Shoghag Hovanessian, who has more than half a century of experience in Chicago, Yerevan and New York in organizing art exhibitions, and promoting contemporary art. Agopian was surrounded by art from childhood. It was with her mother’s encouragement that in 1995 in London, she recognized the value of the works of Damien Hirst, then relatively unknown, and that led to her future specialization.