Aristeidis Lappas’ paintings demonstrate remarkable associations of disparate forms and colours derived from personally intangible and quotidian life stories merged together on canvas through a well-planned methodology. Lappas’ body of work presents variable hierarchies of coherent and comparable concerns: semi-abstract iconography, material identity, colour vibrancy and narrative exploration. The intellectual contradiction invites the viewer to be involved in manifold interpretations of the young artist’s work. The paintings blur the boundary between abstract or semi-figurative art, as they introduce joyful juxtapositions and wide-ranging contents. His paintings could represent either a magnified caption of a larger image or alternatively a complete creative capture that independently exists on canvas. Lappas has also experimented with sculptures; his sculptures showcase distinctive three-dimensional creations that are directly related to his painting themes. Widening up his artistry, his sculptural language channels storylines, emotions or ideas through different materials converted into colourful expressions of uncanny shapes.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
His brightly coloured compositions investigate the concept of space. They illustrate how a compilation of arrangements seemingly overlap each other on canvas portraying an unorthodox painting outcome. Obscure abstractions are lacking, while his visual patterns outline their autonomy. In his newest painting series, such as the ‘Wrapped by Snakes’ (2019) or ‘Warrior’ (2020), the painter’s technique implies distinct boundaries among his intersected visualizations. His vague images do not convey a nonchalant setup in the geometric shaped colour fields. On the contrary, all arrangements render a dynamic layout among each other in the final outcome.
In paintings such as ‘Byzas’ (2020) or ‘Maenads’ (2019), Lappas introduces alternative structures that not only integrate additional visuals but also promote the motif of repetition. These repetitive elements develop greater tension and connection with the artwork and finally encourage the creative interplay with Lappas’ vivid colour palette, frisky patterns and humorous atmosphere. This polymorphic language on his canvases remarkably does not demonstrate only one image; a new expansive structure is introduced leaving a rather creative space for more interpretations. In Lappas’ imagery, the fluidity in geometric forms clearly prevails and enables the necessary flexibility that spices up the entire work via a rich profusion of shapes, while blurring the viewer’s eye through a polychromatic struggle.
Aristeidis Lappas (b. 1993) lives and works in Athens, Greece. In 2015, he graduated from the University of West England, UK. He also holds a bachelor in Illustration from the Academia de Belle Arti in Bologna, Italy. The young painter has exhibited his work in many art fairs and galleries, including: Break Time Contemplations, solo at Transformer, Washington (2018); Athens and its Peripheries in Regards to Contemporary Painting; The Breeder, Athens (2018); Hop on Hop off, Aetopoulos Athens (2019) and Polymorphic Entrancing Topos, P.E.T Projects, Athens (2019).
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
My process is actually quite methodical. There are a series of steps I take in order to achieve what it is I want to present to the world and I try to give adequate attention to each of them. I do a lot of research and studying before an outcome is distilled. Of course playing around and exploring new alternates is crucial part of this method, I follow my instinct on everything and I never stop myself from going off on new trajectories I would like to discover, yet later I am critical of which of these I choose to follow through. You don’t truly know how something is unless you do it first so I try to repetitively test a decision before committing to it but in the end when you see something and you want to do it you will never be fully prepared and you just have to go for it.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
I would like to say, Colourful Spiritual Mythologies.
Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration on from?
John Coltrane, Frank Zappa and Alejandro Jodorowsky.
How do you know when a painting is finished?
When a painting gets close to its completion its essence manifests, where there was an ephemeral aura of emotion and thought now a shape is constructed revealing it’s true form. At the end of the day after the brawling struggle of paper and pencil, paintbrush and paint, when the room is heavy with the smell of turpentine, and the hands are stained by creations quarrels the light flickers and it stands right there opposite you. Through an earnest stare it is agreed, the moment of realization has arrived. And the spirits of creation are elated as the final touch is bestowed upon the artist by the great divine which he then gives to the essence of the painting. In a triumphant explosion of lights the painting is now complete, it is no longer connected to the artist and exists as its own being ready to make its mark upon the world. This is really how a painting is finished but no one really talks about it.
At your previous exhibition at the Breeders, your body of work was concentrated on an exploration on the symbols of Greekness. As a young Greek artist, is this an ongoing painting motif or idea you wish to explore further more on upcoming projects or was it a more temporary investigation?
Exploring the symbols of Greekness I think was the beginning of a larger exploration of identity I am now starting go in. I am still working a lot with visual interpretations of the Greek culture but no so much on the Pop-culture scale but rather on the Folk art and cultural heritage dimension. I am not so much looking at how other people look at Greece but rather how we see ourselves. While trying to look beyond who we would like to be or who we don’t want to be like or the geographical landmass that we have chosen define us I am trying to look at all the many historic and cultural elements that make us up as people.
Are there any additional details would you be regarding your new painting ‘Boy and Peacock’, (2020)? Is there any story behind this painting?
This painting was a strange one for me. It started off from a drawing that I connected a lot with. I spend a long me trying to figure it out and I was never quite pleased with it, I never got it to the point that I felt content with and as I was painting it I felt I had to go beyond my self in order to get to a point where I was pleased with it. Still to this day I think there are some parts of it that could have been resolved, yet it was the only painting from that series I felt like that about. I am surprised it got the attention it did but I am happy that maybe it is these feelings that make it stand out.
What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
The studio is a physical manifestation of my brain. It’s messy and not very clean but it does have some order to it despite that I might be the only one making sense of it. I think I spend more time in the studio that I do in my own house but I like that. The studio houses my process. Each part of my process corresponds to a part of the studio, a wall of drawings, a part of the floor for sketches, a corner for colours and piles of rubble and dust. It has a lot of cool stuff in it and I really like how those things naturally take there place, I like how the condition of my studio represents where I am at mentally. It almost like an art piece it self.
What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
I am hoping that my work can connect to the spiritual journeys of the people who look at it. I am hoping that they see parts of themselves in the work and that they connect with it on a deeper level. At the same time the act of making art is a noon of giving so I am hoping that upon giving these things to the world they bring happiness and positive energy, something to help us move forward with. This is kind of what I would like the audience to take from my art and I am hoping that I will be able to keep on giving for a while still.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely morning person!
Is the glass half empty or half full?
I definitely want and try to think of the glass as half full even though sometimes it takes some effort to do so.
Which are your plans for the near future?
Summer Vacation! I could really do with some chill time right about now!
© All images are courtesy of the artist