Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Jennifer Tsiopou studied
painting at the University of Hawaii, graduating with a B.F.A. in 1991.
In 2002 she returned to the University of Hawaii where she had the opportunity
to be taught by the American artist, Pia Stern, who had studied with
This exhibition includes still lifes, abstract works,
as well as recent landscapes which were painted alla prima and plein-air
in the area towards Lake Marathon.
Painting is a way of life, it is a way of living and
where I live. In the two generalized schools of painting, I fall into
the painterly category rather than the linear. My paintings are not
about the subject matter, whether it be landscape, still life or figurative,
they are about paint, or the act of painting. My goal in the past twenty
years or so has been to paint from the gut, or 'with abandon'. I often
chose 'fugitive' supports such as paper or unstretched canvas, to give
me a sense of freedom and to emphasize that I am just painting, rather
than making paintings. Painting until the end result really sings, rather
than just carries a tune.
I have been deeply influenced by well known American
artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Selden Gile, Joan Mitchell and Philip
Guston. The summer after I graduated with my BFA in painting I lived
in London, where I spent a lot of time in the museums and galleries.
I kept interrogating my European heroes to help me get somewhere in
my own work, however I couldn¹t quite grasp what they were trying
to say to me. When I landed in New York and visited an exhibit on the
Bay Area figurative painters I felt at home.
Being from Hawaii has also been a strong influence
in my use of color. It usually hits me when I get back there how much
color there is!!
I paint in the classic plein-air and alla prima method.
This means I paint outdoors and work on a particular painting for no
more than two hours at a time. It is very exciting, almost suspenseful,
to paint in this tradition as there is so much to deal with: It is almost
always too hot, too cold, the wind blows over your canvas and you have
to hold it with one hand at all times. It rains, the light changes,
passers-by think you are weird etc., Also, you may find a great view
but you have to stand in the middle of the road to do it, and even I
don't have the guts to do that. I am always dying to get out and start
painting. If I can't for a few days, I feel like I could kill someone
if I don't get out there. Yet, the minute I am all set up, it's a bit
scary. It almost feels better to 'have painted'! The whole process is
Doing all this in the countryside of Greece was an
adventure. I discovered a beautiful church and cemetery with about six
graves right outside my neighborhood, towards Lake Marathon. I have
been living here for five years and never knew this existed. The poppies
blew my mind this year! I felt so privileged to be able to experience
the spring in such an intensely personal way. It was great to focus
on the richness and abundance of nature, which sort of revolutionized
My process in choosing objects for still lifes is as
follows: I open up my cupboard and rummage, and go through my kid's
drawers for material. If the object becomes too subjective, out it goes...
In other words if I find myself rendering the object too much, too conscious
of what it is I wasn't painting, I was making a tea cup or whatever
the case may be.
These are pure exercises of what happens when certain
colors and textures collide. It begins with a few marks, an opening,
and what follows is a conversation. I really try to let the paint speak
and be just an observer and finally a critic during the whole process.
I avoid the expected, predictable, and really try to dig very deep.
Jennifer Tsiopou lives in Athens with her two young
daughters. This is her first one-woman show.