Guest Artist Sophia Paraskevopoulou
Sophia Paraskevopoulou was born in 1982 in Athens in Greece. She entered the magical world of painting because of her father, during her childhood, her father gave her watercolours, pencils and paper on the kitchen table and challenged her to explore her imagination and creativity.
That period was almost a rite of passage which cultivated Sophia’s need for expression and sealed her profound love for painting. In the course of her first degree in mechanical engineering she realized, once again, her passion and fervor for art and, in particular, painting; she was going to be an artist.
Sophia studied in ASFA from 2004 until 2009 where she was taught painting and engraving. In her new, intriguing environment she created long scale artworks on canvas and wood, using acrylics. The protagonists in Sophia’s dark and ominous visual arrangements are always unsmiling girls and women with big eyes and big hands, depicting childhood and its lost innocence, as well as constant struggle for existence.
The themes and scenes in Sophia’s artwork are influenced by great painters as Turner and Caravaggio, dark art, legends and folktales from around the world, manga, video games and her preferred metal music. The turning point in Sophia’s life, both personal and artistic, was her pregnancy in 2015 when she had to stay at home for a long period. For lack of space, in combination with Sophia’s abiding tendency to convey her imaginary world, she moved towards sculpting and started experimenting with a range of mediums and techniques in order to discover alternative means of expression. Since then, she has been making sculptures with polymer clay, wire, acrylics and hardboards with handmade wooden frames, so as to introduce us in her new life.
When asked what type of dolls she creates, Sophia described wonderfully the process: The main medium that I use is polymer clay and in particular (after endless trials and failures) the “Living Doll Super Sculpey”. My other favorite material is the black building wire. I create dolls made out of polymer clay with wire armature; the use of wire is critical and I often like to use it as an exposed material at my end result. It’s hard to describe their specific style since I feel that they are constantly changing and reshaping.
Certainly they always retain the element of darkness with influences from the mythology of various cultures. I recently started including resin eyes (made by a stunning Greek creator, Yovanka Black) and from now on this addition is going to to be an integral part of my creations. Finally I use acrylic paints and soft pastels to render my dolls and I always finish them with a high quality varnish. My first doll was made from a wire armature, dressed in gauze and a head made from air-dry clay. When I completed my first doll I felt huge excitement and I immediately recognized that I was at the beginning of a very creative process. It was last year, that I attended a 2 month workshop for handmade art dolls, by the creator Constantina Morou. It was something that I felt I needed strongly, since I wanted to improve my organization and establish a proper creative sequence for my practice. I had great teachers throughout the development of my creative career at the School of Fine Arts, as well as the great instructor who taught me drawing before attending the School. The advice I’ve received through the years is endless helping form who I am now.
When creating a doll, I don’t usually tend to do any particular research. I start by creating the head and then slowly the story unwraps on itself. The dolls themselves lead me and tell me their story up until their completion. In most cases, whenever I started doing something specifically planed, I ended up laughing and questioning the final outcome.. When I am creating my doll, I spend most of my time on the hands. I spend such the amount of time on the creation and rendering of just the hands, that equals the time i spent in creating the rest of the other pieces of my doll. Making hands is the most difficult, and yet the most favorite part in my creative process. I love making big hands with elongated fingers, almost disproportionate to the size of the doll. I usually gather all my patience and tranquility when I start working on the doll’s hands.
In addition to sculpture, I continue to draw and paint. I certainly do devote most of my creative time to sculpture yet I consider drawing an essential part of me. I recently finished 5 hanging sculptures for the next Aeon’s Gallery Rapture exhibition “Muse” in Illinois, and I am currently preparing a graphite drawing for the “Mermaid Art Show” at the La bodega gallery in San Diego.
In the background of my current work, is my dream project, a concept that I’ve been developing for some months now; it has to do with the idea of the Phoenix, the mythological bird-like creature that is reborn from its own ashes. The project will draw inspiration from two contradicting poles that define the circle of Phoenix’s analogy; death, anticipation, silence and emptiness on the one hand, and vitality, vigor, longing for life and regeneration on the other. I opt to use all these antithetical ideas in order to create a series of sculptures, made from clay and wire. Ideally I would love to travel and develop this project at a specific city that epitomizes the ideas of turmoil and rejuvenation that the Phoenix concept embodies; a city that is defined by a deep and important culture.
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