Artist Peggy Hinaekian strives for emotional responses from those who view her work

By Will Bowen

“I like cats and I like to scratch my paintings like a cat,” says Armenian-American artist Peggy Hinaekian of her abstract landscapes. Her red and yellow desert-scapes and sea-blue reveries, as well as her smaller monotypes (made by pressing paper on to a paint filled acrylic board), are characterized by bold colors, strange geometries, open space, and cat-like scratches – she calls “lines of trajectory”— that wiggle through her paintings and guide the eye.

Hinaekian is a mid-career artist. She said she’s been at it for a long time, starting as a young girl in an English school in Cairo. “I liked to do drawings of couples, you know, romance and the Adam-and-Eve theme,” she said. “I drew human figures two-dimensionally, like the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic drawings and script carved in stone.”

Hinaekian’s Armenian grandparents immigrated to Cairo to escape genocide by the Turks who invaded Armenia. In Cairo, her mother worked as an interior decorator and side-lighted with the British Secret Service, and her father worked for the U.S. Army at Suez.

Hinaekian said grew up ravished for American popular culture. She was an avid reader of comic books, such as Little Lulu, Mickey Mouse, and Dick Tracy, and her family saw American movies 2-3 times a week. Her dream was to come to the United States and become an American movie star “like Debbie Reynolds.”

But at the time, she said, there were very few ways to get out of Egypt. One way was to get married and come to the states on a student visa, which she did. She and her husband ended up in Canada, where it was easier to establish oneself. Later she moved to Boston, and then New York, to work as a fashion designer.

After a divorce, Hinaekian said she moved to Switzerland and established a productive art career. Her collectors included the wife of the former Shah of Iran, the Queen of Norway, and the Nestle and Dupont corporations.

Hinaekian has re-married and divides her time between studios in Florida and La Jolla.

“I find inspiration in the colors and shapes I see every day on my walks,” she said. “I can not wait to come home and put my insights to the canvas. I think about painting 24 hours a day ... I am continually striving to be better... and continually re-inventing myself when I paint.

“My goal as an artist is to tell a story and to induce an emotional feeling in the viewer. I want the looker to wander into my paintings and find something.”

“I love La Jolla. I feel great here, like I am on vacation all the time. The Cove is a very special place. I like the way the light works there and how it effects how you see. It is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, on par with the coast of Tuscany, where everything is beautiful, and the upper Nile in Egypt, near Luxor and Aswan — the great Egyptian sites.”

Reflecting on her long career, she philosophized, “It is better to regret what you have done than regret what you have not done.”


Hinaekian’s work may be viewed at Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, 7946 Ivanhoe Ave. and online at