Undisciplined Gestural Abstractions Identify Yorgos Stamkopoulos’ Paintings

Yorgos Stamkopoulos’ (b. 1983) visual aesthetics concentrate on painterly dichotomies that underline the boundaries between the recognisable and the unrecognisable. The artist relies on a multidimensional painting approach that conveys concealed attributes to inattentive viewers’ eyes, however by paying closer attention a deeper world is revealed. Gestural abstraction, stepwise construction and deconstruction constitute remarkable components in engaging with Stamkopoulos’ artistry. Taking into consideration the art features of gestural abstraction, such as the unplanned movements and the automatic hand gestures, along with the emphasis on automatic dialogue with the surface of a canvas, the young artist successfully manages to manipulate the inherent fluidity of his materials achieving an uncanny result.

Another Perfect Day, 2019, Instalation shot 9, Nir Altman Gallery, Munich, Photo by Dirk Tacke (1)
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Another Perfect Day, 2019, Installation, Nir Altman Gallery, Munich, Photo by Dirk Tacke

Words: Yannis Kostarias

Shifting colours usually dominate the artist’s work and it seems hard to observe where one colour begins and another ends. He sets up a creative experience with underlying fragmentations, which are relatively dissolved by the uninterrupted parts of paint and colours, offering at the end a diffused look. The artist’s recent body of work demonstrates his increasingly fragmented approach to composition and shape. These remarkably unsystematic depictions confirm the artist’s scope for deconstructed images. By experimenting on mediums, materials and methods, the Greek artist mainly works on large canvases rendering a distinctive technique that controls the flow and the stains of his painting materials. The colour combination indicates a sophisticated palette infused by light purples, greens and blues.

In addition, after the artist’s scraper gives a new shape on the final painting, the appearance of large raw canvas proportions are revealed. The first layers of the masking painting material used by the artist in the very beginning of his process are now spotlighted. Hence the initial painted forms come at the forefront and construct a new balance with the remaining abstract visuals. These significant parts of the raw canvas enhance the dramatic contradiction in the fractured image making a great contribution with the other powerful abstract shapes on the existing narrative. This is an ongoing free-flowing motif that runs his work and appears to be one his most characteristic trends. Moreover, these wide and monochromatic parts, which seem like large uncoordinated brushes that remove or fade away the previous depictions, convey underlying movements and intrinsic dominant features on the painting’s geometries. The latter elements could function as an inconspicuous threat which aims to regulate over the remaining shapes. Painting on large canvases, the artist also thoroughly manipulates the pictorial space noting how a wide surface could be filled by a generous and unreserved style. By showcasing little control over his canvases and allowing unpredictable visualisations, Stamkopoulos also provides a further reading on his work: the art technique itself defines the final speech. The painting’s character is apparent and its authority is significant here, putting a great emphasis on the paint itself that turns to be the subject of his work.

Untitled, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 140x120cm (3)
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Untitled, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 120 cm

Born in Katerini, Greece, Yorgos Stamkopoulos (b. 1983) lives and works sharing his time between Berlin and Athens. In 2008, the young artist graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts and then he studied at the University of Arts Berlin as an Onassis Foundation Scholar. Stamkopoulos is also the recipient of the award “Freedom” XXIX Certamen de Minicuadros, Museo de Calzado. His work has predominately been exhibited in European art galleries in Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece and Italy. His latest solo show ‘Another Perfect Day’ is taking place at the Nir Altman gallery in Munich.

Art Verge: How would you define your work in a a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Yorgos Stamkopoulos: Melancholic, Ιntrovert, Instinctive.

AV: Observing your work, it feels like there is a spontaneous painting technique that significantly characterizes your recent body of work within your fragmented canvases. If this applies to your artistry, does the painting result come from unexpected hand movements or some kind of controlled or pre-planned experiments instead?

YS: I would not say that my wok reflects a spontaneous painting technique. The technique that I am using is really concrete. My works are composed out of multiple painterly and masking layers – which later on are being removed. On my artworks there is more a spontaneous painting gesture. Accidentalism is a crucial element. I am working gestural straight on the canvas without any preliminary drawing or predefined forms and patterns.

Worlds Beneath, 2018, Installation shot 8, Nathalie Halgand Gallery, Vienna, Photo by Julian Mullan
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Worlds Beneath, 2018, Installation View, Nathalie Halgand Gallery, Vienna, Photo by Julian Mullan

AV: Do you consider yourself fully devoted in abstraction or does figurative or semi-figurative painting style has passed from your mind at all?

YS: I would say that I am devoted in art generally without using labels. The final outcome of my work is abstract. I have never painted figurative, now what the future will bring I do not know.

AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

YS: Pat Steir, Motorhead, Clyfford Still, Claude Monet, Jules Olitski, Joan Mitchel, YOB, Acid Mothers Tempel.

AV: How do you know when drawing/painting/artwork is finished?

YS: I do not have the urge to work on it any more. The work somehow has an identity and a character of its own.

Untitled, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 140x120cm (6)
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Untitled, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 120 cm

AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, how does it affect your process and where is it now based?

YS: My studio at the moment is in Berlin and is 5 min walking distance from my apartment. That makes it very practical and easy to develop ideas and drafts 24/7. It is a spacious ground floor space that I share with 4 more artists. It has a huge yard where we can store big works and we are throwing grill parties whenever the northern weather allows it.

AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?                           

YS: Thomas Hirschorn at Villa Stück in Munich.

AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

YS: Definitely a morning person. I love picking up my coffee from a Swedish café that is between my place and my studio. It is something as a ritual to start the day.

AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?

YS: Always half full.

AV: Which are your plans for the near future?

YS: I just opened my solo show in Munich at Nir Altman gallery. I ll get back in the studio after a short break.

Untitled, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 35x30cm (2)
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Untitled, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 35 x 30 cm
A Timelles Tale, 2018, Installation shot, Kunst&Denker, Düsseldorf, Photo by Achim Kukulies
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, A Timelles Tale, 2018, Installation shot, Kunst&Denker, Düsseldorf, Photo by Achim Kukulies
Panoramica_senza titolo1 copia
Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Trajectory, Installation View, 2017, Mario Iannelli gallery, Rome
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Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Trajectory, Installation View, 2017, Mario Iannelli gallery, Rome


© All images are courtesy of the artist

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