To coincide with his current solo exhibition Mythic Nation, we asked George Raftopoulos to tell us a bit more about why he decided to become an artist, how he works, and why art matters....
George Raftopoulos in his studio. Photography by Paul Green.
Describe your work in 100 words or less:
I equate my practice to that of an “Odyssean adventure”. I believe my work reflects a point in time, albeit fleetingly fractured. and yet in another instant sure and precise. I draw upon experiences and comment on them daily. I attempt to make the ‘ordinary extraordinary’. So many amazing things are overlooked for whatever reason…people, places, memoirs - they are all mashed into the vehicle of creativity…and thankfully it resonates with people. This is what I term ‘the democratization’ of abstraction.
It constantly affords me clarity in my life and I believe that the idea that “Art = expression” is a true freedom. Through my art I get lost - only to find myself again - and it is an addictive place to be….
How has your artistic practice changed over time?
I believe I have removed several layers of immaturity from my practice… I am now more comfortable with what I am expressing and not afraid to expose my truth to the world. However this has taken many, many canvases to attain and I still fight for this sense of truth everyday.
Plato and his mates_2015_mixed media on canvas_260 x 220cm. Photography by Paul Green.
Which artistic movements do you most identify with?
Ones that are real and of their time….Dada, Fluxus, the Situationists, they were all, and are all, reactionary and highly driven by a social commentary for truth…I am sitting between all these things.
How do you work? Can you tell us about your process?
I’m an Aesthete and my exercise is to draw and usurp…so I spend time scrawling and scribing never denying that which is automatic. I never deny anything that I have written drawn or thought. So my eyes never cease. As I believe that to be at the best of one’s ability one must constantly exercise one’s arm at what one does….
What themes and ideas do you pursue?
Social commentary, justice akin to Goya and TRUTH!... I am constantly poking fun at the establishment, as I believe that as an artist it is my responsibility to make people look at things alternatively….
Museum Quality_2015_mixed media on canvas_201 x 183cm. Photography by Paul Green.
What is your dream project?
It’s on its way and its huge!!, All I can say is that it encompasses music, theatre and physicality…stay tuned!
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Back in New York creating large-scale sculptures and paintings that are physically huge and encompass all of my theoretical concerns….
If your work was a…
Song, it would be… PINK MOON by NICK DRAKE.
Smell, it would be… LAVENDER.
Meal, it would be… JAM DONOUGHTS at ODEON in New York.
Animal, it would be… definitely a horse. A horse that would run and never look back, constantly forging forward without fear or trepidation…. It would be brave and conquer - for truth always leads the horse to water…
Word, it would be… NO. People should learn to use it more often!!
YouTube video, it would be… PAUL KELLY’S song “how to make gravy’. It always sends me back to feeling homesick for when we lived in NY and I long for that feeling of homesickness….
George's exhibition Mythic Nation can be seen at Artereal Gallery until 12 November 2015. George will also be hosting an Artist Talk at the gallery from 3pm on Saturday 31 October 2015.