Luca Curci talks with Abyss during ROME INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2021, at Medina Art Gallery.
Abyss is a self-taught visual artist based in Athens, Greece. Her media of choice are pencil, acrylic and oil paint. Highly influenced by the Surrealists, she started her creative journey using automatic techniques (Breton and Ernst) to manage to depict her unconscious and later shifted to creating dream-like realistic (Dali and Magritte) paintings. Her aim is to find the fine line between these two techniques in order for her paintings to be healing for both the creator and the observer. To achieve this she is incorporating into her paintings symbols that have been assigned certain spiritual qualities. Her main inspiration as an artist is human interaction with nature, as a representation of what we often classify as the divine or even as a gate to our experience of spirituality. The name Abyss was initially chosen because it captured the artist’s ability to comfortably explore what people around her associated as her darkness at any given point and challenge all that she had taken for granted during her development.
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Abyss – I come from an artistic family and drawing used to be my favourite activity growing up. Though it took me a while to see it as my main activity in life, my continuous tendency to resort to it when I chose to not verbally identify and address overwhelming thoughts and feelings turned it into a means of expression at the age of 12. The former was subtly blocking the extent to which I chose to evolve my art, however. In 2019, after several years of treating my art as a residue; being the activity I loved but never prioritised/pursued further, I consciously chose to shift that and started experimenting with more media. I believe this was the point when my artistic practice officially started and I got to my current artistic practice by experimenting on my own.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
A – It depends on the project. There are projects that are pre-planned and researched and projects that are meant to be developed with a clear mind and thus, almost automatically. When painting for the pre-planned projects, the thought process is pretty standard: I visualize what I want to depict; question the symbolisms I am designing and developing as I start painting; laugh and daydream at shades of colours that emerge as I am mixing the paint; allow my mind to rest and more often than not come up with new ideas inspired by those “unexpected” shades; pause to play the piano because some colours trigger the creation of melodies on my mind (I have synesthesia) and I link the themes of the projects I am working on with the current affairs in my life or existential questions that often occupy my mind, and observe them being addressed if not resolved as the paint unfolds on the canvas. When painting for unplanned projects I am usually underwater, so I am focusing on my breath, my heartbeat, my buoyancy, and the curious Mediterranean wrasse that often join me as I paint.
LC – How is your creative process?
A – My creative process – when it comes to the pre-planned projects – entails internal and external research and analysis. The research is conducted using physical and digital resources, including but not limited to articles, journals, and books. I spend a lot of time observing the expressions of people’s personalities based on the aspects that relate to the project in progress, and I keep a diary of my observations and conclusions. The questions related to the project in progress are then addressed to me and my answers are incorporated into the aforementioned diary. Then, words are transformed into images that are either commonly accepted symbols of those ideas or made-up symbols that I wish to introduce to the viewers of my work to liberate them from the absolute negative or absolute positive connotations that the commonly accepted symbols entail. During the unplanned projects, the process focuses on the specifics of the actual execution; thus, planning the diving gear, checking the weather conditions, hiring a divemaster to accompany me as per the protocol, and choosing the spot. Recently I have been collaborating with a brilliant team of freedivers who specialize in underwater galleries and relative projects, On a single breath. They set up my studio in magical locations, like shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea, and capture pictures and videos as I am working on the painting literally in a single breath.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
A – Most of the themes of my paintings address the relation of one’s mind and spirit with the cosmos, but without them necessarily serving a spiritual purpose. They address themes presented in folk culture, religion, philosophy, astronomy, quantum physics, numerology, as well as more tangible topics of everyday life. You can find more on my themes in my portfolio.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
A – Less frowned upon after covid, but certainly hard when one is only emerging. If one is not represented by a gallery, one needs to invest in their exposure and engage with activities that are time-consuming. One needs to stay informed about the latest trends when it comes to the art market, such as the transition from physical auctions to digital ones and the latest shift to NFTs, which requires thorough research, technical skills, and a decent budget. Bear in mind, that this only applies to artists that wish to sell their art though, since being an artist does not require that.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
A – Following in-depth research on the myths and legends created around the sun and the moon, I chose to view the sun as the closest to the absolute truth and the moon as the only gateway to deeper meaning albeit with illusions and further question marks. When uniting the two as parts of each other, although seemingly opposing, one should seek out a third element; water – as the most accurate depiction of infinity and eternity, reflecting all that is above and beyond and allowing for an additional level which is underneath and penetrates all there is entering what is within. Within the matrix of these determined yet indefinite elements, one is called to be, act, and even reach self-actualization. The closest one reaches the infinity of your presence, however, the more exposed one is to wear and tears. At times one may even have to experience breakages of sorts, just to truly see one more possibility of this matrix. This breakage always shakes one’s emotional world. At times, one’s mind chooses to perceive this “alarm” as hurt and as something negative. However, all are but parts of sudden or slow changes. All are but parts of a process that stops when one dies or transforms – if that is true after all. Therefore each breakage should be respected and not frowned upon.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
A – At this point in my life, I would not accept an invitation from a gallery whose vision of art I do not agree with. I hope this does not change as I grow as an artist. The two themes of the exhibition, Mixing Identities and Future Landscapes, seem to complement each other in that if one combines them they address the self as a part of a wider matrix of similar molecules with different properties. Though connected to all those other molecules, if one zooms in to specifically the self, one realizes that it is a multi-level group of molecules some of which are identified as tangible when observed by conscious beings and some of which are intangible. On that note, I enjoyed the specificity of the wide themes of the exhibition.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us? Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
A – Certainly, I did and I am grateful for the help and support that I have received from your team throughout this cooperation.