Interview: Painter Reveals the Past and Present of Landscapes in Giant Brushstrokes

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan


Artist David Ambarzumjan is enamored with the wonders of our world and celebrates their beguiling essence through surreal paintings. In his ongoing series called Brushstrokes in Time, the 20-year-old juxtaposes (mostly) present-day landscapes with scenes from the past. He does so in dramatic fashion—large brushstrokes occupy most of the compositions and act as portals into another time.

The brushstrokes showcase another moment in time, and they also double as the lightning rods for change. “This collection,” Ambarzumjan explains, “showcases how both the force of nature and humanity shaped our planet in sometimes beautiful but also devastating ways.” One of the clearest examples of this is in his painting titled Impact. The background of the image features a docile scene of dinosaurs occupying a grassy field—that is, of course, until a fiery orange brushstroke roars through the canvas depicting lava and destruction.

We were excited to speak with Ambarzumjan about his ongoing series of surreal landscape art and what it means to him. Scroll down for our exclusive interview.

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan

“Human Nature”

What is your artistic background?

I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember. To improve my skills, my parents sent me to different art schools, where I would learn to work with many mediums and pick up different techniques. That was a long time ago but it laid the groundwork and gave me the confidence to experiment and keep learning for myself, every day, with every brushstroke.

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan


What was the inspiration for these brushstroke paintings?

It all began with questions I would ask myself every once in a while: How did this place where I am standing right now look like a long time ago? What did we do to change the landscape around us and how did that impact other places around the world? The nature around us is so colorful yet different wherever we are on this planet. It’s hard to believe that all this originated from nothing but dust in outer space.

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan

“Tempest” | “Eupnea”

You've said before that you paint the whole canvas rather than painting around the brushstroke. How do you decide where the brushstroke is going to be?

Depending on the subject of the piece, the brushstroke has a different meaning, therefore it requires a certain shape and position. In the Human Nature painting, the brush stroke represents the “footprint” of humanity, a quick, central and sudden movement to show how in just a couple of centuries the untouched nature would disappear and be replaced with man-made streets and buildings. The brush stroke in the Impact painting literally takes the shape of the asteroid, that hit the earth and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan

“Tide” | “Sunset”

What do you hope that people think or feel when they view Brushstrokes in Time?

With these paintings, I want to emphasize how big, diverse, and beautiful our planet is. There is so much life and history inside every brushstroke but there is also so much to lose if we are not careful. The past has proven that we are capable of transforming any canvas that is given to us. I just hope that we paint ourselves a better future for our planet.

How do you see your brushstroke paintings evolving the more you create them?

I feel like there are endless possibilities but I’m currently thinking about starting a new collection that takes the series to a more abstract direction, focusing on the contrast of light and dark tones.

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan

“Verdant” | “Fade”

What are you working on now?

I’m about to start working on a new painting that explores the future, or rather a possible future. It’s exciting to think about something that has yet to happen because so far I’ve only painted past and present landscapes. Alongside that, I’m constantly working on a few miniature paintings that are being auctioned off on my Instagram account @david_auctions.

Surreal Landscape Art by David Ambarzumjan

“The Swell” | “Gradient”

David Ambarzumjan: Website | Instagram 

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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