Photos by Matina Vossou | By Abi Isa Lee | September 10, 2021
This Friday, our Inspiring Creativepreneurs Stories interview highlights contemporary artist Matina Vossou, based in Athens, Greece!
In this interview, Matina talks about her childhood memories of painting with her father, her process of creating art, challenges while balancing work and art, and much more.
Read on to learn more about the fascinating stories behind Matina's work!
Crafts-Women: We'd love to learn more about you and your work!
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where did you grow up? What were the things you enjoyed doing growing up?
Matina Vossou: I live in the center of Athens, Greece, where I was born and grew up. I was born in the early ’70s, and since then, my neighborhood has gone through many changes and preservation, and I feel fortunate to be able to witness it all. The major change that I felt more than those new blocks of flats built around here was the people that left the neighborhood.
"Memory is a strange kind of tool; sometimes, it has its own will. It deletes faces, names, incidents, or underlines others."
Also, it dismembers and reinvents. Without any doubt, it smooths the edges and fades out the intensity of colors. When I look back to my childhood, I realize that everything has found a necessary balance; an inevitable one-way street to growing up.
As an overprotected only child, I spent a lot of time on my own, mainly reading poetry and theatre. Since then, I have fallen in love with the two. The poetry helped me realize the various movements of thought and how a couple of words can have the power to activate a brain chemical reaction. At the same time, the theatre formatted an ever-changing stage on my mind, where I had the authority to be the puppet master of all the fictional roles I was creating in my head.
CW: Have you always been an artist or creator? What are some of the earliest memories of creating art?
MV: My fondest memory of creating art as a child was when my father gave me a wooden human figure that he had filed on his own and a set of his paints, encouraging me to color it. We began painting together.
We walked close to the railway tracks picking up smooth and round rocks to paint on. We also picked up many empty liquor glass flasks near the railway station disposed of by travelers, and I began painting faces on them.
"I still remember the joy I felt for my little treasures—the excitement for putting a soul into rocks and glass bottles by designing the lines of faces. Each of them got a unique voice and a personality. They were my precious totems."
My father was a self-taught naïve painter who taught me to paint more with a toothpick and less with a brush. I am continuing his tradition with the utmost love and respect.
CW: That's such a sweet memory and that relates to my next question about your signature figurative work. What drew you to this subject?
MV: Yes, always! For me, space and time, objects and sceneries, are visible only through the presence of people or the recollection of their former existence. They are the required denominator of every image I see and process.
I have realized that my direction of choosing a face to paint over another has a lot to do with some idea or a feeling that I want to express.
"And by this, I am not referring only to the facial characteristics. People are also the ideas, hopes, fears, sounds, sentiments, and their means of expressing all these are their words and their language."
As soon as something becomes clear and loud in my mind, then it takes a deep breath and a shape of its own. So, it all starts in a very abstract way and is not at all visual.
CW: Can you tell us about your current body of work? What are the themes you're exploring and your source of inspiration for these pieces? How has your work developed over time?
MV: I started by drawing simply the faces. Then, I continued by adding a single little element on my canvas here and there, for example, a flower, but gradually it wasn’t enough. So new symbols or objects started emerging.
I think that while I am painting a face, a dialogue commences between us. So, this dialogue over time has become more complex, bringing up new subjects and doubting old ones.