Interview: Eleni Gemeni
Luca Curci talks with Eleni Gemeni during the 12th edition of CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2023, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Eleni Gemeni is a digital artist and experimental photographer based in Luxembourg. Throughout her career, she has pursued fields of study and ideas that have interested her. She studied economics, art & interior design and translation & applied linguistics. Her abiding love for art and science is manifested in her artworks. She dedicated her free time to exploring the cosmos, time, life, nature and everything in between. This is also the journey revealed in her art. Emotions, humor, drama, whimsy, mischief, surrealism, allegory and visionary thinking are the ingredients for her creative artworks. For her digital art, she uses mixed techniques. It’s a combination of her own drawings, paintings, sketches, collages and photography, embellished with textures and vintage ephemera. Photo montage and experimental photo manipulation play a key role to her creative expression. Her post-processing and digital art techniques are exploratory and unconventional, making her art a visual journey that embraces the unexpected. Her creative journey also continues with her experimental photography, analog, instant, digital and mobile. Almost a decade ago she was introduced to the lomography pop style photography. She fell in love with the vintage analog flair of the photographs and started experimenting with her lomo and instant cameras. It was only a matter of time before she decided to step into mobile photography and art. Today, she is an award-winning artist and photographer. She has also received multiple honorable mentions in digital art and photography in major international juried competitions.
LUCA CURCI – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
ELENI GEMENI – I was drawn to crafts and collage since I was a little kid. I studied economics, art & interior design, translation & applied linguistics. Although my career was initially in the financial sector and later on in translation and linguistics I always found time to create art. I started with traditional painting and collage and years later started experimenting with mixed media. The ability to use and combine many different mediums and techniques was fascinating and liberating. For the first time I could use all sorts of traditional or fancy paints and glues, papers, fabrics and assemblage elements on a variety of substrates and experiment with many different new techniques, like transfers, decoupage, and assemblage. Soon after I started experimenting with digital art. It was a new learning curve to accomplish, but it was yet another liberating step. With the new tools I could not only create new pieces but could also make use of my previous work and push it into a new direction, allowing my new illustrative works to demonstrate many different aspects of my creativity and imagination. By that time I was also introduced to lomography. I loved its vintage analogue flair and this is when I realized that photography could be yet another powerful tool to my artistic journey. Since then, my digital art has become something more than a layered composition. It became my way to combine all knowledge, experiences and emotions.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
EG – When I create my art I try to connect to my inner thoughts and reflect on the inspiration that comes from my surroundings, the places I visit, conversations with people and images I create in my mind. My digital art is a constant exploration of the connections between people, time, places, and common objects that are often overlooked, considered trivial and mundane. As I try combining all these into meaningful and storytelling compositions, I need to engage in an inner conversation and interaction between my visionary thinking and the real world. Sometimes the final image is clearly synthesized in my mind. However, most of the time, I love experimenting with my photos and illustrations and let myself intuitively follow the flow that arises after each edit.
LC – Among the several techniques you use, which one do you prefer to practice and which of them are most compelling for you?
EG – With my camera, I seek to capture textures, colors, patterns and isolated subjects; people or objects. With the help of my mobile phone, my iPad and many different applications, these are then combined and manipulated with my own drawings, sketches and illustrations, both traditional and digital. Photo montage and experimental photo manipulation play a key role in my creative expression. Post-processing and digital art techniques that are exploratory and unconventional and make my art a visual journey that embraces the unexpected are the most compelling.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
EG – I aim to create surreal dreamlike worlds and imaginary abstract figurative art that portray reality and fantasy, fragility and strength, darkness and serenity, beauty and decay and this is the most challenging part when creating my artworks. Achieving a style that can be soft and playful but definitely has a dark side lurking in the shadows is another challenge. In regard to this matter, I tend to use exaggerated yet simplified forms, lacking of any detailed facial characteristics in an attempt to depict not only the body but also the soul and essence of people. Also, the choice of colors is deeply symbolic and tries to emphasize people’s burdens, solitude and passions or depict a state of catharsis that dissolves all mischief and pain. These creative endeavours allow me to express emotions, moods, and concepts in unconventional ways and push my artistry into the desired deeper plane. Figures and objects need to convey a concept, reveal a hidden meaning, and become an allegory through carefully chosen photos, brushes, effects, colors and textures.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
EG – “Lady Agatha” is a mixed technique artwork. Photo manipulation, photomontage and digital illustration were used to create an imaginary portrait of Agatha Christie. Smartly dressed, with bright hair, and darkened eyes surrounded by a dark background. An intelligent, beautiful, romantic woman placed against a dark, full-of-mystery background. The bright hair symbolizes her bright, smart mind. The darkened eyes reflect the darkest parts of the characters in her books. Her red colored nose depicts both the desire to “sniff out” for clues but also the fact that she has to deal with and unravel all mischief. “Behind the Mask” is again a mixed-technique artwork. In this piece, photo manipulation is the main technique and then I used photo montage and digital illustration to embellish it. It is an interpretation of the duality of human nature. One moment we show our true colors and the next we are forced to conceal ourselves. A constant interaction between our true and concealed emotions and thoughts. A constant battle between who we are and who wanted to be. A constant attempt to find our true selves and uncover the hidden paths of our bodies and souls. The number 7, a symbol borrowed from numerology and ancient texts, stands to depict logic, understanding, spirituality, and intellect. It is there to reflect this search for a deeper understanding of ourselves, the world around us and in the end our true identity.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
EG – Artists in today’s digital era have a plethora of opportunities. With the rise of online courses and learning platforms artists can conveniently hone their skills, learn new diverse techniques and stay updated on new art trends. When it comes to tools, artists now have so many options. They have access to traditional mediums and quality art supplies offered worldwide, as well as to any latest digital software and standard or AI-based applications. Social media, online art galleries, residencies, call for artists in juried international competitions, print houses and print on demand platforms are powerful tools for any artist, covering aspects from creation, global presentation, acknowledgment, promotion and sale of their art. However, they also face big challenges. Their digital presence is open to intellectual property theft, scams and lately to a constant battle with algorithms, which tend to favor only popular content or trends. They also struggle with the costs of quality art supplies, studios and high-tech gear, top tech software and hardware, marketing and promotional efforts (websites, exhibition fees, printing/shipping of artworks). These are crucial issues in sustaining a vibrant and innovative artistic practice that may sometimes be overwhelming.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
EG – This exhibition’s concept of “MIXING IDENTITIES” is so intriguing and thought-provoking. It is a concept that I have worked on many times in my art. It is vast, deep and can challenge an artist’s vision in many different ways and on many levels.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
EG – It is definitely an art platform worth exploring and collaborating with. You value and acknowledge all art genres and artistic expressions and you provide a well-established and well-supported space for artists to showcase their work.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
EG – Your current services demonstrate a commendable commitment, dedication and appreciation towards all art genres and all artists from around the world. If there is anything else you can offer the artists, I’m confident you will do it in the best way possible.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
EG – Absolutely! Collaborating with your platform and being part of this exhibition was an honor. I value the experience and I look forward to continue engaging with your platform and its artistic endeavors in the future.