When you go to see an exhibition, especially one featuring a contemporary artist, you may find yourself having lots of conversations – both in your head and with the company you’re in. The first reaction to a work is spontaneous, as you approach. If it’s beautiful then it will engage you immediately. Will you walk closer? What if it’s original and beautiful? Does it inspire curiosity? And if it inspires curiosity is it because it has a mystery – its meaning?
Does it matter what the artist intends if it has inspired in the onlooker another state of emotion/being than that with which they walked into the space with? But if art is about the communication of ideas, the conveying of emotions, beliefs, thoughts, then shouldn’t the artist’s message be clear. And then, in a multicultural, pluralistic society are there enough common visual references to convey these ideas, emotions and beliefs without the written or spoken word? It’s a challenge, that’s for sure.
In my previous post I reviewed James McGrath‘s Luscus. I was unable to attend the talk he gave on it before I attended the Olsen Gallery. Here I’d like to share the Youtube AV of that talk.
James McGrath’s Luscus is showing at Olsen Gallery, 63 Jersey Rd, Woollahra, until May 29, 2021.
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 Peacedepicting 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. 😉😄
With the Covid-19 lockdown in Australia looking like easing, I’ve started to think about all of those things that I took for granted just a few short months ago – like bear hugs and bars, theatre and church (religious undertakings both, for me), going to an art exhibition or a restaurant.
All these gaps coalesce in memory and transport me back to February 20, 2020, and an art exhibition in a converted church – just across the road from the Arts Theatre – which is now an iconic restaurant and bar in Cronulla – 1908 with fabulous hors d’oeuvres and just the right ambiance.
The buzzing opening, heralded in Haus of Pour, Costa Karas’ debut showing.
Haus of Pour produces contemporary art that is joyful and abstract, organic and whimsical, non-figurative yet evocative. Liquid Art, each piece is unique and personal. Look closely at one and you will see an aerial landscape of the beach, but the viewer next to you may see a magnification of the patterning on a semi-precious stone in the rough – think turquoise or granite.
Each canvas employs a limited palette of contrasting colours that has a story to tell. The story is different for every viewer. One may evoke the lyrical play of Kandinsky, while others the statements of Pollack and yet others a coastal Australian feel Fred Williams would indulge. Mapplethorpe is recalled in the petal formation of a rose.
Joyful, fluid, unpredictable, the limited palette makes them a home decorators dream – it’s the kind of art that you will want to see hanging on your living room walls.
Problem is, which one to choose.
Has art always been a passion for you?
Yes, art has always been a passion of mine. In the past, it had materialised in many other different ways and in various forms.
How would you describe your work?
Flow Art which is also known as Paint Pouring or Liquid art. It’s a form of abstract art that uses acrylic paints with a fluid consistency.
Can you say which artists or movements you particularly like who may have influenced your style? What do you like about them?
I admire all forms of art, but I’m personally drawn to the Modern art era from 1860’s to the 1970’s and especially the whole Pop Art movement. Artists that I admire are the likes of Dali, Picasso, Kandinsky, Miro, Lichtenstein, and of course Andy Warhol. These artists were so forward thinking for their time that some of their art works are even beyond the present day -that excited me. In saying that, I have a huge admiration and love for street urban art as well. I find myself walking the streets of the Inner West regularly just to check out the latest pieces that have gone up. There are also a few Australian artists that I admire and whom do some very amazing art, artist such as Ben Frost, Anthony Lister and Nico (Nicoart) who is a friend, these guys have all inspired me in one way or another.
When did you start taking it more seriously?
I started to take it seriously about 3 years ago when some of my closest family and friends saw my art and really got it, and loved it – this made me understand that it was not just me who sees what I see in my own art.
You create by pouring, how much control do you have over your art?
Paint or a combination of paints are poured onto a canvas or art board. Then you manipulate the canvas by moving the canvas around until you get the design you want or when you are happy at what has materialised in front of you. So there is limited control in this art form which makes it all that more exciting.
I’ve seen the video of your work created on a turntable, do you use any conventional methods at all- Do you use brushes?
Although I don’t use a turntable (oops! – ed.), but this is something that I have contemplated. I mainly move the canvas around on angles to get the desired effect, sometimes I’m happy with the result and sometimes I just need to scrape the canvas and start again. I don’t use brushes at all – a paint spatula here and there but mostly it’s the paint, the canvas and me.
You have posted video of the way you have created some of these wonderfully evocative pieces on Instagram, are you conscious of performing the art- would you consider your action of creating a performance?
Well videos are not my favourite thing to post on social media, but a lot of people have commented on how they get a great enjoyment and satisfaction in watching them. In saying that, I video all the pieces I made as this helps me fine tune my technique. But yes, I can see how it can be seen as a performance art as you watch something beautiful and magical develop in front of your eyes.
Your works are abstract – some look like aerial landscapes is there a definite direction to them? Has anyone ever had the audacity to ask you to turn them around?
Yes, my art is very abstract. I normally go in with a vision and most cases I get want I want but then sometimes I get more that what I expected – which is so wonderful. I always will see something in my art and that will determine the way I would like it to be hung. But the extraordinary thing about my artwork is when some people see something completely different and they may choose to hang it differently, and that it absolutely fine with me. A friend bought a piece of mine for her daughter’s birthday which looked like 2 flowers to me but to the 6-year-old: she saw 2 Unicorns – so art is subjective to even a 6 year old
Do you have a favourite piece and why?
My favourite piece to date is a piece I did for my partner. It’s a magical piece that it’s not only made with love but it captures the colours of the ocean and the beach on which he lives on. It’s a piece that is so mesmerising that you don’t get bored of looking because every time you look at it, you see something different.
Thank you, Costa.
You can view and purchase more of these gorgeous canvases @HausofPour on Instagram.