Stella Kapezanou is a painter based in London and Athens.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your art practice?
I basically seek and find my inspiration in my own thoughts. It is about the way I experience what surrounds me. I think in pictures. Some of them end up on canvas. I am interested in images from everyday life in our Western societies. And
I love observing people. I want to capture their emotional state when they seem disconnected from their surroundings, when they look to be defined by their personality and not their soul and I strive to allow the viewer to observe more deeply what is happening right next to them. This way, I want to capture the 'temporariness' of life, decay and our mortality as humans.
How do you choose the people and the locations that you represent in your compositions? I really enjoy seeing how you take somehow ‘ordinary’ scenes and people and turn them into something rather opulent and striking. I also find the bold, even ‘electric’, colours you use in your work really effective in giving the paintings a completely different dimension, turning everyday life into something much more glamorous.
My point of departure is the ‘aesthetics of consumption’, and therefore I draw my images from the ‘everyday’ life of people and the relations which bind them with objects, places and times. My subjects don’t quite intersect, they are just strange people playing in a fake world. The exaggeration of a hue gives my paintings an aura of vulgarity. I wish to capture the commercial culture in a blunt and straightforward way, like an ‘off’ fashion image, aiming to point out the affordability, temporariness, decay and mortality of human beings.
My paintings are my playground of fakeness, I aim to make them look too picture perfect, almost like adverts, unrelated possibilities in the same frame of the painting. They seem somehow unreal because they are, they depict scenes that never quite occurred. The color reproduction happens in accordance with my wish, not reality. The world gets captured not as it appears but as I want to perceive it.
What is your work process? For example do you use images from magazines, photographs and so on, or do you paint from real life?
I usually take pictures myself with my camera/phone or whatever is handy. I sometimes collect images from magazines that catch my eye. I frequently use patterns from my childhood memories, such as my grandmother’s bed sheets or tablecloths. I often set up a shooting production and ask my friends and artist friends, or hired actors to pose for me. I do the whole styling and direction of the shoot. Then I take several pictures for source material. I only use fragments of these images, along with imaginative elements, or 'stolen' source material from whatever has caught my eye. The handbag of someone I met on the street, a high fashion brand's advert, somebody else’s dog. Random, unexpected stuff and things. I only focus on very particular parts and I use imaginative elements on the same theme. I paint the details from memory. When I begin to work on the blank canvas,
I only have a vague idea of what I am going to do. I add all the extra elements during the process, according to what I feel that the painting itself is asking me to add.
You live between London and Athens, how do you think that reflects itself in your art practice?
In my work in Athens, striving for excellence in skills and deep knowledge of art history are essential. In London, it is mostly about research and contextualisation of one’s studio practice in relation to contemporary practice. I feel lucky that I have been exposed to so many different disciplines. This year, I am working on my new series of paintings (that will hopefully be completed by the end of 2018) in my Athens studio. Practicing in Athens is a smooth ride, life is easy going. Studios are big, bright, affordable. Art materials are just around the corner and huge stretched canvases can be brought to my door within a few days. You can actually feel the artistic freedom there. Of course, the economic crisis has certainly affected the arts and culture in Greece. On the other hand, the cultural life in Athens remains bright and effervescent. This crisis has awakened, paradoxically, a sense of vitality, a rediscovered sense of relations, an amazing artists’ community and it feels so nice to work in the city.
Being in London really feels like being at the heart of the Artworld. I can never get enough of the fact that I am just a step away from great private views, openings and lectures on an almost daily basis and that I meet so many interesting people working in the arts sector.
What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice?
I’m currently exhibiting my latest work as a solo show and at the same time working on a new series of oil paintings. The outcome is this time more subtle, I am exploring people, relationships and sexuality and things seem to be getting darker. I am halfway there and that is the most interesting part.
The whole thing is beginning to take a form and an identity of its own. It is not always me who decides, you know, it is like there is a kind of daemon in the painting asking for things to be done in certain ways as well.
More information about Stella and her work can be found on her website. She is currently showing work in the following exhibitions 'ROOMS2018', Kappatos Gallery Athens (17 May-24 June) and 'Brit Pond', Evripides Art Gallery Athens, 31 May-30 June.