Sunday, 28 February 2010

Vasiliki Gkotsi / Painter

This week’s TT Test is taken by the wonderful Greek born artist Vasiliki Gkotsi who has lived and worked in London for twelve years graduating in 1999 from the Royal College of Art with a Masters degree in painting. A collector has said of her work, "It’s powerful, big, both in complexity and size; I love the challenge, even in her portraits, and the eyes are incredible." She has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, at the BP portrait award in 2002 where she was commended and again, in 2003. Her work has also been shown with major artists internationally and is in private collections all over the world. Her answers are interesting & honest. And Vasiliki certainly knows how to answer a question with a question! Important note: in the photo of Vasiliki we see her in her unheated studio on a very cold Winter’s day hence the many layers of clothing :) What is your wake up song at the moment? At the moment and every moment the human voice and specially chanting from the monks of Mount Athos. It is the only sound I can hear during my work. It compliments the process. It affirms the moments. Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession? Chosen profession? Did "I" choose it? I don’t know. I always have a feeling that I don’t have a choice but to do it, that’s why I am doing it with such persistence. Otherwise the "failing" moments would have made me give up. What influenced me? It’s the painting itself. I always felt that is the most challenging matter… the most difficult thing to do and somehow if I manage to "do" it, I will "be". About an artwork or event I would say I have influences from many artists through history and today. If you want me to tell you something more tangible, happening at the beginning, it is when I started as a student in painting at the Athens School of Fine Art, I read Van Gogh’s biography and I was crying all the way through, I deeply related. If you could travel back in time, which period would you most like to visit and why? Why back in time and not front as well? I wouldn’t like to ignore the future as the "who I would be" lies there. I would like to visit all and none. So I prefer none. I like being in real time, being in now. At the end of the day does it really matter? The "question" of life is always the same for every person, in all periods. But if I have to answer at some level, I would say I would like to experience as a "spirit" the period of the 3 years teaching of Christ right through his passion. Realizing my spiritual "poverty" and my need to deepen the mystery of sacrifice, I feel I would manage to "follow" even if the pain would be excruciating. I love eating out and discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me? A friend once took me to 222 Veggie Vegan, 222 North End Rd, London [link] It has the most "clean" tasteful, delicious food I have ever eaten and… & I am not a vegan. What is the best advice you ever been given relating to your professional/ creative life? I listen to all the comments or advice from people seriously, all of them have a meaning, one of the good ones is "Work hard but don’t try hard" by Chris Ofili, when I was a student at the Royal College of Art. BONUS QUESTION: You have a strong religious faith. How has this affected the way you choose to be an artist and does it influence your choice of subject matter? Shall we replace the religious faith with the faith on the revelation of the spirit as the word religious refers more to spiritual systems and it can be a projection of the human being. Again here we have the word choice, choose to be an artist and choice of subject matter. If I can choose to be an artist then I am not there yet and on the subject matter… if I have a choice then it is not art. I don’t want to have choices. I want to be dizzy by the inspiration and work beyond. My best paintings "happened" because I had no choice but to do them. That inspired me for my commissions to treat them, as I have no choice but to make a masterpiece. It is like love, you don’t have a choice but to love the others. And this is one with spirituality and the full body is there functioning without fragmentation. Whether we talk on Spirituality or Art, what it is all about is experiencing new ways of loving the others. Every moment always, love is at stake.