Jill Yakas Gallery
Jennifer Tsiopou
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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 Elmer Bischoff.

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.

Artist's Statement

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!!

Landscape

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 truly fantastic.

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 life!

Still lifes

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.

Abstracts

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.

May 2008


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