Sofia Rozaki gave up painting for a little while after dropping out of fine arts school in Thessaloniki, Greece, before picking it back up a couple of years ago and deciding to really give it a good push. Find much more at the links afterward!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I was born and raised in Athens, Greece and after spending 8 years in Thessaloniki, where I initially went to study fine arts, I am currently back and based in Athens again. I studied in Thessaloniki’s School of Fine Arts for about 4 years when I eventually dropped out. At that point, besides my studies, I actually also gave up on painting altogether for a few years. I started painting again the past two years trying to focus on it as the main activity in my daily routine and it has really become a very important part of my life since then. I’m also a musician, I studied classical piano for many years since I was really young and I was performing live Greek folk music playing the accordion the past 4 years I was still in Thessaloniki.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I think I have been painting since I was a child, like most children do, but the first time I decided to follow art as a professional choice I was about 13 years old, when I told my family I wanted to study fine arts.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
There’s actually a group of themes I keep coming back to when painting. The main notions of time, memory, trauma and sexuality certainly hold a significant place in my art, viewed and examined in different ways each time. More specifically, lately I’ve been really drawn to the physics’ view of the idea of time (even though physics is really not my field of expertise and I can’t stress that enough!) and been fascinated with concepts such as wormholes, which question the space-time continuum idea we live by. This research, when translated in a more figurative but also even literal way, can be a really interesting study when exploring the relation we have with time, as something that defines our lives and once it passes by can never come back.
While mostly staying focused to these main themes, I like to try different styles or media, so I think my work is constantly changing and evolving at the moment. I would say that the biggest change in my practice over the past two years has been the gradually increasing use of color, as in the past I used to paint almost completely in black and white.
What is your process like?
My process is not always the same. There are times when I start a painting already having at least an abstract idea of what I want to do, and have done some research on the subject, or on a specific detail I want to use and then there are times when I feel I have no inspiration at all and what I do is just put some music on (i never draw/paint in silence) and something begins to come out and take form on the canvas. It always depends on the size and the style of the painting I’m doing each time, but the average time it takes me to complete a piece is about 5 days. I only work on one artwork at a time, because otherwise it’s really difficult for me to stay focused on the specific feeling I need to complete each piece. For the same reason, I also have this kind of ritual, where I always listen to the same music I listened to at the moment I begun working on a piece, for as many days as it takes to finish it.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
There certainly have been some people and pieces of advice I have been influenced by in my practice, but if I had to choose one I’d probably say my high school art teacher who is a great performance artist and has also been a good friend of mine. The sense of her believing in me from day one certainly made a difference especially when I was younger.
What is your studio like?
Unfortunately, my studio right now is not that big and not so practical, because it’s not actually a real studio. For the time being, it’s my childhood room, the room that I grew up in, turned into a kind-of studio. I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to work in a bigger space.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
For me, being an artist is challenging enough on its own as a practice, as the work I do is always directly related to my emotional and psychological state of mind. When I say challenging I don’t necessarily mean in a negative way, but I think most people can relate to the fact that constantly digging through one’s mind, thoughts and emotions, trying to make some sense out of it, can certainly be a little frustrating at times. Also, from a professional point of view, it’s really hard, especially here in Greece, to try and make a living out of one’s art.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished a painting inspired by a scene I witnessed on the bus, concerning the social stigma attached to mental illness. I haven’t yet figured out what I’m doing next.