Approaching artist Kris’ studio apartment from the street I had no idea the treat that was in store for me. The mundane exterior of her red-brick block along the apartment lined street of a not-so-trendy neck-of-the-woods in Sydney’s south, belied nothing of the wonder that greeted me when I walked through her threshold. I could have been Aladdin walking into the cave of treasures for the very first time. Painted images surrounded me, bombarding me with a haze of almost memories – Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet, De Kooning, Kokoschka, Margaret Preston, Matisse, and late Picasso… Creating in a broad spectrum of styles, Kris drew on a broader one of influences.
Her artwork was displayed over all available walls – lounge room, dining, laundry, bedroom, hallway and bathroom. The private side of doors were painted as well as a strategically chosen kitchen cabinet – not to mention the works leaning up against the wall in her studio space.
A participant in several exhibitions, and artist groups over the years, she has taken on the Archibald prize with a portrait of Lady Florence Packer and enjoyed seeing her works in other galleries and exhibition spaces around Sydney as broad as Hazlehurst and the Addison Road Community complex.
Kris describes her works as both personal and decorative. Colour and passion project from each canvas, board, tile or paper she’s worked on. The world her figures inhabit are built with mixed media and experimental line work. They portray a world just beneath the reality of the physical plane in a style that moves between early to mid-twentieth century influences but carries its own unique voice.
Most of her works are figurative but all vary in their levels of abstraction. Many are portraits and life-paintings but she does still life, landscapes and more illustrative pieces. Where her approach is naturalistic the influence of the Impressionist is in her marks, and the Expressionist in her hues.
Kris can shake up her delivery with drama that is apparent as in the fish splashing out of the water – where the excitement of the viewer in catching that glimpse is conveyed by the explosive splash as much as the leap of the fish is. Or it can be obscured by the focus on a shimmering tree, leaving the intimacy of the lovers to meld into the landscape, leaving no doubt of the source of the euphoria the tree depicts.
No matter her style of delivery – abstract, semi-abstract, expressionist or realistic, her message is clear. She may use symbolic motifs but guides the viewer’s interpretation of her meaning. Of course, as with all abstract or semi-abstract works, there is so much there to wonder at that reception of her work remains very personal.
Has art always been a passion for you? When did you start painting?
I knew art was very important to me from a very young age. I remember pulling out the old encyclopaedia and trying to copy some of the Old Masters’ portraits. I loved gluing things on my art works, anything really, I would recycle on my art. Nothing much has changed these days.
How would you describe your work?
I would definitely say I’m a mixed media artist, my work varies in style, modern, semi abstract. I could paint abstract today, a contemporary piece tomorrow a realistic landscape or a modern sexy couple, it depends on my mood and what medium I want to work and mix with. Someone once described me as eclectic, I reckon that’s me.
I find beauty in anything and then I create.
Detail of Benedicta, by Kris, 27.3 x 23.3 inches, mixed media on paper, framed $1400
Do you have a favourite style? When you approach a canvas what governs the style you choose to express yourself with? Can you say which artists or movements you particularly like who may have influenced your style? What do you like about them?
Well, I absolutely love Gustav Klimt. I love his intricate detail and the gold leaf he used has defiantly inspired me.
Modigliani: I love how he elongated his portraits and figures he took risks and confident. When I’m painting: life drawing with a model, I think, is where I’m most confident.
Chagall is another favourite – very dream like. I do bring some of my dreams on canvas. I’m inspired by many more but I have to say my art students inspire me and have been the greatest teachers :))
Do you have a favourite subject matter or theme you like to paint?
I do tend to always go back and paint a lot of love and romance. I guess it’s what I miss and feel on a subconscious level, but also enjoy painting still life animals and landscapes.
You’ve been involved in several exhibitions around Sydney over the years. Do you see any changes in the art world – how work is exhibited and perceived?
I think now with COVID there is a transformation in art, online platforms are moving fast. I think this period will redesign the way the art world works.
I’ve been looking at the Black Lives Matter art movement, amazing art, very deep wounds are coming out of artists. People in general are digging deep. I remember once walking into an exhibition and it was by an artist from the lost generation. It was a powerful experience: I felt the weight and pain of this artist the minute I walked in.
Mixed media tiles: Forever Peace depicting a dove- acrylic on stone tile with wire $300 AUD; Olive Tree– acrylic on stone tile with Aluminum metal $300AUD ; Couple with wreaths My Love – SOLD
How much should art be swayed by the market or what galleries want?
There is a market for the very rich that’s for sure Sotheby’s marathon Virtual auction sold one of Francis Bacon triptychs $84. 5 million.
What do you think about art competitions? And open calls for submissions to planned exhibitions by galleries e.g., Hazelhurst?
Art competitions are a nice experience for artists, if that’s your thing but they aren’t for everybody. Let’s face it; have you seen the amount of artists out there!
Submissions can be tough and again it’s a personal preference – doesn’t mean the art will sell, but it can if you have a good art dealer.
Do you have a favourite piece and why?
I don’t just have one favourite piece of work, there are many I’m attached to and I can’t part with. I see it as being loyal. 😉😄
Where can people see and buy your work?
I’m in the process of restructuring a new website. At the moment people find me on contact me via the craftytheatre facebook or instagram page or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter O Ploutos Mou