Greek artist Stella Kapezanou explores complex, ironic and obscure themes drawn from capitalistic and materialistic western societies. We met with Stella to discuss her relationship with painting and her journey as an artist.
Firstly, where are you from and what brought you to London?
I was born and raised in Athens, Greece. I received my ΜFA from the Athens School of Fine Arts, where I was awarded an honorary scholarship by the State Scholarships Foundation. Then, with the support of Motoroil Hellas scholarship, I received my MA in Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts, where I was also awarded The Frank Bowling Scholarship.
How was your experience being in art schools?
They were both great colleges and very unlike one another. In Athens striving for excellence and deep knowledge of art history are essential. In London, it’s mostly about research and contextualisation of one’s studio practice in relation to contemporary practice. I feel lucky that I have been exposed to such different disciplines.
Have you always been a painter?
Painting has been in my life ever since I can remember. When I was little I was painting with my kiddy crayons next to my mother, who was working with oil paint on canvas. I never thought that I wanted to be an artist; I’ve always felt that I am an artist. Although I did try different mediums during my 5 years studying at the Athens School of Fine Arts, I chose painting. Not just because it was the love of my life, but also because it was the hardest to conquer. I felt that with sculpture or photography I could always steal a bit, but with painting…I had to confront centuries of excellence in the medium’s tradition.
How would you describe your aesthetic? Where do you get the narratives from?
My ultimate focus is devoted to the exploration of the various formalistic and expressionistic possibilities offered by the medium of painting. I always work on a thematic. I basically seek inspiration from my thoughts, experiencing my surroundings and thinking in pictures. Some of them I get down on canvas.
Then I usually organise a photoshoot, which I direct myself. I choose the location, my sitters (some are friends, some are actors) and their interactions. I take snapshots that I later use as references for a new body of work. In my most recent work I also used text.
To Want What You Have, 2019
Oil on canvas
100 x 100 cm
Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?
Well, not when I’m creating. I can’t have the audience in mind – I wouldn’t be able to be free if I was doing so. But when a new series of paintings is completed, I’m always wondering what would people feel about it. Because for me, ultimately, the canvas – using paint, composition and meaning – becomes a stage where the dominant element is the interpretation and understanding of the human condition.
What’s next? Any projects, collaborations, exhibitions?
I’ve been working on a new series of paintings since October 2019. No name yet. It’s my “neptunian era”, as I call it, it has to do with the planet’s retrograde in Pisces – my sign – making me dreamy, illusional and escapist. Loose canvas, paper, loads of text, glitter and female fantasies are the most dominant elements.