Monday, February 14, 2011

Interview with Efrossini Chaniotis...

Effie diptic
selection of details of works by Efrossini Chaniotis.

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from?
I am of Greek heritage and was born in Adelaide where I studied sculpture at the South Australian School of Art.  When I finished my studies I went and lived in Greece for 8 years and completed a degree majoring in painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts.  I was lucky to have a very broad art training as both cultures and educational institutions offered different schools of thought.

How would you describe your work? What materials do you work in?
Both my paintings and sculptures are made of mixed media. I tend to sculpt like a painter and in my painting integrate collage in a very fluid manner.

Formally both mediums are treated in a very tactile and dynamic way, for instance my sculptural figures may be categorised as soft sculpture but I may find myself sewing and stuffing a basic form then manipulating it by sticking paper on it or building it up the way a sculptor would if they were working with clay or reducing the form the way a carver might.

What attracted you to work in the medium that you do?
I'm really drawn to the different imaginary spaces that can be created by both mediums. My strengths lay in working across mediums (though there is great satisfaction and reward, from being absorbed in observational art making through drawing and painting). Since returning from overseas in 2000 I started down a path of narrative 'picture making' which suited my tendency for composing poetic imagery.

What achievement are you most proud of to date?
In this exhibition I feel that the relationship between the sculptural works and the paintings are beginning to take shape more strongly. But in particular the sculptures are playing in 2D and 3D space more effectively and the paintings are better reflecting my obsessive (in a good way) use of pattern, while gaining in intensity.

If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be and why? Who inspires you?
I used to have quite amazing collaborative experiences when I was studying.

Chagall's large scale mural work comes to mind...if he had a great sense of humour (not saying he didn't...I've seen many photos of him smiling warmly) and played beautiful music while we worked I'd get up on a scaffold in a dome with him no problem...

Picasso would be awesome and exciting if he were not such a lady's man and ego maniac...

Mirka Mora's autobiography and her mural at Flinders street station which I saw when I first arrived in Melbourne captivated me and felt somehow friend/artist Sarah Lindner because opposites make great creative connections (with whom I had my first experience of true collaboration) there are other artists, peers and friends here and overseas who I admire, who are not necessarily well known. Collaborators can make the greatest teachers.

What's your work practice like? Do you work in a studio/home? What gets you in the mood to create?

I currently have a space at the Northcote Studio, .amongst artists and designers but I am flexible. I see a good journal on the bus and a black felt tip pen as a small portable studio if necessity demands. At present I use my studio space frequently but I'm working from home when I need to break the gap of travel to keep things flowing or sometimes when feeling I need to move inwards. Working in both mediums allows me to use my studio and home accordingly..." clean and dirty" ideas around creative spaces has always been important to me, even more so when I worked as an art therapist for a short stint.

Is there a soundtrack to your creativity? Do you have music or silence?
Easy...The Indian inspired Sheila Chandra, Laureena McKennit's Harp...Greek folk music with an Asia Minor influence....and the beating of drums be it Middle Eastern, South American, African or Brazilian Samba! It's a contrast of dynamic rhythm and meditative inward turning sounds. I love thinking about music.

What do you think people will take away with them from seeing your work?
The work is intended to stimulate wonderment (is that a word?), people's imagination and creative thinking. The autobiographical elements in the work allows me to share my personal creative world, but the art is there primarily to offer others an entry into their own world of personal myth and meaning making

I see the artworks as having their own intelligence, not necessarily a reflection of my own. In my experience people who resonate with my artworks often find personal meaning in the imagery. This makes the work potentially powerful and that's exciting.

If people engage with the work enough to find a piece that they connect with then they will be taking something with them that I am happy to give.

Where do you want to be in 10 years time? What's your dream?!

Aahh a lovely question Mardi, one that should be answered in totality but I'll keep it focussed. Working fully from my art making and using my creative abilities to the max. I'm making and exhibiting often enough to be sharing my work with a wider audience...always with great energy and enjoyment. I see having a space that can be flexible enough to support my own art making and sharing, teaching, collaborating and contributing to the community spirit. I'm also doing illustrations for books that are apt for both children and adults.


Temporary Tattoos Amazing Raymond said...

I really enjoyed the experience of viewing TALES OF LOVE & REASON: THE LIONESS CONSTELLATION BY EFROSSINI CHANIOTIS on the opening night

I found the painting hauntingly beautiful and the colours exquiste.

Well done to Effrossini and the Town Hall Gallery for making this a magical presentation

Evie said...

I am a distant admirer from North America.
Effie, I love the way your bring elements of the Greek mythical past into your work - your fusion of cultures is amazing!
But, I get mesmerized by the art itself - your colours and syntheses.