Surreal Brushstroke Painting Imagines a Future Where Nature Takes Back Control

Landscape Surrealism in Painting by David Ambarzumjan

Artist David Ambarzumjan ruminates on our world through his ongoing collection of surreal paintings called Brushstrokes in Time. The beguiling works of art feature past and present landscapes that are interrupted by tactile strokes of paint, which themselves have their own scenes within them. The strokes sometimes match the era they juxtapose while other times they represent many years in either direction. Before Ambarzumjan’s latest piece titled Recover, the streaks wove the past and present within the same frame. They never considered the future—until now.

Ambarzumjan began Recover in the spring of 2019 just as we interviewed him about Brushstrokes in Time. The challenging endeavor took him many months, but it represents a new facet of the series. “I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories,” he tells My Modern Met, “and I love to think about all the possible ways the world could look like if we suddenly perished away.”

Recover features a cityscape at night. The concrete streets are illuminated by the glow of buildings, cars, and street lights just as a brushstroke cuts through the center of the composition and reveals a lighter point of view containing a pastoral field with a family of deer. “The brushstroke represents a kind of medication to the skin of the planet,” Ambarzumjan shares. “Inside, nature takes back control to a point where many people think that it shows the past rather than a possible future.”

While the piece was a conceptual challenge, it was a technical one, too. “The painting has a lot of contrasts between the brushstroke and the background, visually and thematically: city/nature, day/night, light/dark, noise/serenity and more,” Ambarzumjan explains. “With all the details and contrasts there was always the risk of the painting appearing overloaded, which is why I went back and forth with the composition a lot, but I’m very happy with how it turned out in the end.”

Artist David Ambarzumjan recently completed a surreal painting as part of his ongoing series called Brushstrokes in Time.

Surreal Landscape Painting

Called Recover, the piece imagines a future where nature has taken control again.

David Ambarzumjan Painting Landscape Surrealism

The brushstroke was painted after Ambarzumjan completed the cityscape.


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My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by David Ambarzumjan.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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