Artwork’s Title: Sitting man
Materials Used: Oil colours on canvas
Studio Based: Athens
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
For smaller pieces of work, I usually make one or two drawings, and that’s enough to get me started. For larger paintings, I make a few preparatory drawings to decide about the correct structure and composition. Simultaneously, I draw some smaller sketches on other pieces of paper; I would not necessarily call them studies because often they take a life of their own. Those drawings help me generate ideas about the painting’s underlying atmosphere and create the characters that will later take part in the painting’s narrative. It is like establishing the background story for each one of them. However, I often keep small details, as a hand gesture or a figure’s facial expression, for the bigger drawing from those smaller pieces of work. Having a more holistic idea of the artwork, I then go on to work on the canvas. I usually start by painting a face, and the rest of the image unfolds around it. The application of paint is vital as it retains the traces of the brush marks, resulting, more often than not, to changing the initial plan of the image.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Theatrical, juicy, humorous.
Would you use another three different words to describe the ‘Sitting Man’ painting?
Fleshy, heavy, present.
How did you come up with this painting idea? Is there any story behind this painting?
The painting was about creating this sitting character. At that time, I was thinking a lot about mannerisms and how I wanted my figures to look. I began painting the figure, having made one rough pencil study of its form. I wasn’t sure if I wanted this guy to be dressed. I enjoyed how the flesh was forming, and then I decided to go with it and draw him naked. It is one of the works that happen quickly and effortlessly, without much thinking. For me, pieces like this one, where I don’t quite understand how they evolve, are the most interesting, and they tend to occupy the most space within the studio. Once a piece is completed and is left on the side I often go back to it and try to understand it; kind of asking the character ‘who are you?’. Someone else, looking at the painting would not necessarily know that this dialogue between the painting and myself takes place,but for me, it is an essential aspect of the work.
Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this painting?
Not really. To be honest, I don’t particularly like the idea of creating works which have a predefined purpose. I think you lose some vital aspect of painting by attempting to serve a particular message. Having said that, every piece of work is influenced by certain ideas; this is inevitable as the creator is a thinking human. Anyway, the painting is open to interpretations.
What colour is used the most in this painting?
Quinacridone red mixed with transparent maroon.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
I remember visiting this exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale, ‘The Spectre of Comparison’ if I recall correctly. Ιt was taking place in the ‘Artillerie’ in this high ceiling room of a historic building. The paintings were exhibited in dimmed lighting directly pointing at the canvases. There was an ongoing conversation between the old and the new, which I find immensely interesting. I also enjoyed a lot the theatrical element of the exhibition. I would love to make an exhibition like that. I even imagine it with a soundtrack; as if it’s a Peter Greenaway movie set. Yes, I obviously know, the aims are rather ambitious.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
I have an all-time favourite team of artists ranging from more historical artists like Annibale Carracci, Paolo Uccello, Pieter Bruegel, Botticelli, Edvard Munch, Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard, Picasso, Hatzikiriako Gkika, to more contemporary ones like Peter Doig, Michael Armitage, Elizabeth Peyton, Nicole Eisenman, Ben Senior, and Louise Bonnet. The list goes on. However, there are many less established artists of whom I follow their work and inspire me.
How do you know when one painting was finished?
There is an inner feeling that makes me slow down, making me think that any added brushstrokes could worsen the painting. However, if a painting stays long in the studio, I usually struggle my way out of this feeling.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
My studio space is an ex-petshop which has recently been renovated to look like an office. Nothing special about its looks, however, it has loads of light and positive energy! Also, it has high ceilings, ideal for large canvases. It is located on a busy road with many intriguing personas passing by, making my coffee breaks exciting and fruitful to gather information for my fictional characters.
What does your mum think about your art?
Well, you can’t really make everyone happy, can you? I am trying to imagine what I would have thought about my current work five years ago, and it is already troubling enough! In any case, I asked her. She said that my work is innovative but also irritating. She also said that it is not the type of work she would imagine to see in a gallery and say that it is a nice painting style. You can take what you want from that, but I know that she is very supportive.
Which exhibition did you visit last?
It has been a while with everything that is happening (COVID-19), but the last one was Apostolos’ Georgiou ‘One by one’ at Rodeo gallery. I loved it.
What are your plans for the near future?
If you had asked me a couple of years back, I would have told you I would want to complete a Masters in London, yet this hasn’t happened. If you had asked me a year ago, I would plan to get out of my studio for a bit, visit the outside world, yet here we are, still painting in my studio in Athens. I think that plans don’t work very well for anyone right now so I’ve just decided to go with the flow. I would like to have an exhibition in the near future, as work has lately been piling up in the studio.
All images are courtesy of the artist
One thought on “Alexandros Bourikas: Sitting Man”
Impressive! Such a unique style