A picture is worth a thousand words
John-Paul Hussey speaks to visual artist Eugenia Raskopoulos about her art, currently on display in Carriageworks, Sydney
Trying to lock in an interview time with visual artist Eugenia Raskopoulos is a bit like capturing a wood sprite in a jar fashioned not out of glass, metal or wood, but of dew.
It's not easy, and for the most part you're not sure of who is chasing who.
Because this will-o'-the wisp behaviour of avoiding the media is not normal, as most living the public life do understand at least one rule of thumb: when it comes to your career, any publicity, good or bad, is beneficial.
Then, there's street artist Banksy or novelist J D Salinger who have done a monumentally good job of demonstrating that super anonymity can produce much longer lasting results. Salinger may have been simply shy of all those prying people with their stupid questions, and Banksy? Well with his Professor Moriarty-like genius for public evasion, he may be playing a different set of cards to achieve a similar result.
So then, is Raskopoulos shy or just clever with this 'treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen' malarky?
Neither. It goes a little deeper than that. Because when it comes to the power of 'the word', Raskopoulos is an artist, not some hack journalist jetting out meaningless phrases ad infinitum.
Raskopoulos' art can be loosely described as abstract minimalism, often focusing on a single object, colour, material or word. There is a Japanese influence here, which Raskopoulos proudly makes claim of, having travelled to Japan many times.
"I became very much in awe of their art, with its use of minimalism. It's so close to perfect and there's their incredible discipline of arriving at that near perfection that I find so inspiring," Raskopoulos says. "Even their packaging has this discipline. There was this sweet that I used to buy each time I returned to my hotel room. This one sweet, it was not a biscuit or cake, it was something else, quite unique, yet every time I opened it up, it was always the same experience of encountering something...so nearly perfect."
There's also the excruciatingly deliberate and often painful process the Japanese have, Raskopolus went on to say, "just to arrive at that point, that I find so compelling."
Work by Raskopoulos is currently on display at The Performance Space in Sydney as part of the exhibition, Night Shifters.
There's a common criticism this new form of art (New Media or Installation Art) doesn't have the appropriate deliberation of process when it comes to its actual making. That this new art remains purely in the conceptual and never in the transcendent. That it might move your mind, but never your blood. That simply not enough time is spent on the one thing or too little time has been spent on far too many.
"I'm very interested in language and in the translation of words and where these words come from," Raskopoulos says.
One of Raskpolous' words is 'Democracy', which she has used in past exhibitions.
"I was interested in how that particular word has been used" and abused, one would presume. "I was looking at this word and wondering whether it means anything anymore," Raskpolous says.
This chosen word of obsession has been rendered countless times, in steam on a mirror and even in urine, for example, and looking at it all, it's plain to see a resonance has been successfully achieved. One therefore can really appreciate why an artist with such commitment to the true weightiness of words would be reluctant to be processed by the sluttish nature of the media machine.
And that if there is still an audience out there with the imagination to return to a paradigm when even uttering the name of a god was taboo, then you'd be best to go and see her new mene mene (writing on the wall) for a genuine Raskopolous experience and stop wasting energy with this plumage of spurious journalistic words.
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