Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am a Greek artist, currently working and living between Athens and London. I completed my undergraduate studies in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art – graduated in 2017 – and my postgraduate studies in History of Art in UCL – graduated in 2018. I started off as a sculpture student in the first year at the Slade, working a lot with metal structures. However painting pulled me a lot, but I was always afraid of it until I realised that it both gave me answers and opened up new questions in my continuous search for forms and encounters.
I moved to the painting department in my third year of my undergrad and from then I have been exploring intersections of sculpture, drawing and painting within mostly a painterly domain. Studio life is the only way that I can imagine spending my time. The studio as a state of mind is vital for my life and my practice. Every work is an encounter within myself that lasts for a specific amount of time and then it becomes sort of archived… I just cant go back into it and rework… this happens with my writing as well, it’s very interesting… that’s what I have been thinking about the last couples of months
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I always drew. But the time that I vaguely consciously realised that I want to professionally be involved in the arts was while doing the International Baccalaureate in Athens. I took art as a major subject and it just took up all my time, all my mind. It was a struggle to convince my parents to proceed into an Art & Design Foundation, as I was not sure what exactly what it was that I wanted to follow within the fields of art and design. When in the UK for the first time, in the Foundation course of UCA Canterbury, my passion for Fine Art started to unfold more boldly, and then came Slade, where I realised that I cannot do anything else but be an artist, be in the studio.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I partially moved back to Athens some months ago, after being in the UK for six years. It has been a change, as I never actually experienced Athens as an adult, or as an artist, so it’s very exciting to explore, and find new project spaces and emerging artists that are trying out their practice in the city. London is always inside me, I could never definitely move from London. I am currently feeling that I have one foot in Athens and one in London, which is very exciting as I get a truly versatile experience which reflects back to my work. I love the buzz and the overwhelming feeling of London, and I enjoy the calmer yet actively explorative aspect of Athens – I get to observe people more closely in Athens which feeds my ‘Encounter’ paintings and drawings a lot. I think this state of being constantly displaced yet simultaneously feel cosy and comfortable in both places becomes a sort of mental state from which my works are born.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Encounters are my central theme lately. Encounters within creatures, forms, colour, planes, energies and sights. These encounters happen either in truly private spaces, such as the bathroom, or in spaces where the public and the private merge creating a sort of Heterotopia in the moment of the encounter. Ancient Egyptian mythology feeds my forms a lot, as I am interested in the way that mythological characters like Bastet and Anubis portray social concerns while being Gods at the same time, thus ruling life and encounters. The state of being human triggers me a lot and is what I am actually questioning through these ‘encounter’ works, exploring mortality, the psyche, the relation between one self and stuff and posture.
What is your process like?
Research and reading is embedded in my art practice. Due to my art historical background I see reading and writing as an integral part of my work. I read while drawing on the side, and I draw while thinking about what I read the previous day. Artist books, philosophy books and articles sometime balance out the brushes in my studio! Drawing is something that I do constantly and from these drawings my paintings are generated. I try to also draw parallel to making paintings as it loosens the tension and ‘importance’ that the stretched canvas can have. I also try to keep the ‘painting period’ of a work quite short – like four days max – it feels like a diary entry that happens during these days and then it is archived, always staring back at me, but it feels awkward to go back to it and change something, so then I do another drawing, maybe of something from that painting, and that’s how it flows.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
Bathrooms and tiling seem very fascinating lately. They evoke a compulsive sense that simultaneously might seem as an enclosure or as freedom – I feel freed through the pattern. Additionally, the past weeks I have a mania with shower cabins and bathtubs – thinking about Foucault’s concept of Heterotopia, they seem to have this tension – I am currently looking into that, creating tension and posing questions to myself while drawing encounters that happen in these places
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
In my studio in Athens, I also co-run portfolio preparation ‘sessions’ for prospective Art, Design and Architecture students. I don’t see this as separate to my art practice, as it takes place in our studio which is great between keeping up with the momentum of making. The most important thing for me is to be in studio, a place where my works never escape me, and I might be focused on something else. Like a student’s portfolio layout, but my painting is always in my wider sight, so when the lesson is over I see the work through a different perspective, it’s like taking breaks – always refreshing.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
During my time in Slade, my painting tutor Andrew Stahl, always told us “just do, make, and you know the most interesting thing about painting is that it is just you and the painting, mud and the canvas.” The energy of compulsive and continuous making that he proposed and that he also has in his own paintings is always in my mind and it is something that I want to achieve every day – Daily encounters with paints, canvases, paper, markers and books.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Just be in the studio! And things happen.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
Being part of a community I believe is vital for one’s art practice. Being part of the Slade community shaped my a lot as an artist and an individual in general. The discussions, the relations and just being with like-minded people in a studio creates a unique vibe that is massively productive, inspiring and challenging.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I tend to come to the studio nearly every day around 11am – 9pm, and I take a day off (if you can call it that) on Saturdays or Sunday. I like the feeling that ‘live’ in the studio. I always change clothes when I enter, and make a cup of tea and I always change the set up of the studio.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I believe that attending an art degree is more than going to uni: it becomes a way for living for the period of the course, and then this way of living just becomes a necessity, a way of living that you will always miss and will adapt. I also pursued an MA in History of Art, right after graduating from the Slade, and this was a change. It could also be seen as a ‘break’ from art practice, but actually it was the most complimentary thing to do for my art practice. Research and writing was present in my practice since my BA, yet it was always vague. After the MA I felt that my thoughts are expressed much better and my knowledge of art and philosophy has massively expanded.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The insecurity that it evokes, and the anxiety that my people have due to this insecurity. It is hard at times, but I always see it as a challenge and try to be productive in order to overcome the frustration.
How would you define “success” in art?
Success is a weird word… I think my goal is to continue to do what I do daily without discounts, to not be static to an idea and to continuously evolve and explore.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
The most exciting thing is that I opened my own studio with my best friend now in Athens
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
Athens Open Studio is our self-organised project – an artist-run space that is based on the studio as a state of mind.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a series of works called ‘Encounters’, challenging figuration and pattern.