Opening on 28th August is an exhibition of work by Neovi Vlassopoulou at Freedom Hair Experience.
Neovi recently graduated from Dundee’s Duncan Of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.
She says this about her work…
” My work is based on the natural elements and their effect on each other within the world. Landscapes and seascapes can evoke a sense of mysticism which I find very intriguing. I have a fascination with the sea due to my Greek heritage and growing up beside a beach as a child. The sea is therapeutic in so many ways, both visually and physically. My work aims to capture these auras and my relationship with the sea. My work is portrayed through oil paintings where I evoke different moods and emotions through various painting techniques and work with a wide variety of tools.” (Taken from DJCAD, Degree Show Artists 2015)
Neovi and Irving met not through Neovi’s art work but via Face of Freedom. Neovi was selected as one of the Freedom model finalists and the two have stayed in touch since.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Neovi and this is what she had to say…
She told me that she is half Greek and half Scottish. It is this dual nationality that inspires her work. She lived in Greece until she was four years old, when the family moved to Scotland. Even though she was just four years old she remembers vividly that she really hated being in Scotland as she had spent her first years growing up on a Greek beach and was a real beach and water baby. As a teenager, she started to travel back to Greece regularly and Neovi firmly believes that this is where her affinity with water comes from.
“You can experience every emotion from the water: from chaotic and destructive to serene and tranquil. Being in and around the ocean can change your mood, especially going for a swim in the sea” Neovi stated. “This is definitely my inspiration from Greece”.
Neovi eventually fell in love with Scotland too, particularly when she found Dunkeld and the forests surrounding it. It is a beautiful area, and has very much inspired Neovi’s work too. She described walking around the woodland, the flowers, trees, the river and how it engulfs her mind when she is there. She likened the experience to being transported from her mind.
“It’s so intriguing walking through the forests. It’s all about the journey, the quest and discovery. Nature is powerful, it heals body, mind and soul. It can alter your state of conciousness and is facinating”.
We talked about Neovi’s painting and her passion for it. She described it as her therapy (as well as nature, food and music) where she explores every emotion via different mediums and tools.
This isn’t Neovi’s first exhibition as she has exhibited in The Central Market in Glasgow and alongside the Ted Talks at Glasgow University too.
I asked her what her favourite pieces were. She immediately told me about painting the Bluebell Woods in Dunkeld using a just palet knife. Really enjoying the process and outcome this led to a bit of a breakthrough for Neovi and the start of her using this technique to paint more often.
Neovi also described the largest piece that she has created so far… “it is a huge painting that makes you feel like you are in it” she told me. It is also of Dunkeld but this time using reflections and ripples in the water of the river as her inspiration. She said that this is her most abstract work so far, with the use of several techniques and different tools (including wood, forks, knives, mops, sponges and gloss). This painting earned a delighted Neovi some very positive comments from one of her tutors who said that it was a very intelligent, expressive painting.
Her degree show work, Neovi explains, evokes mood rather than being an immediately recognisable subject. “It’s not always obvious what they are”. She talked more about being very liberal with her paint and getting to grips with one painting in particular to really try and evoke the relationship with the ocean.
I asked Neovi if any pieces had been a particular challenge and immediately she told me about a painting that managed to pierce itself on a projector that required patching to then some time later required angle grinding of some sections as she wasn’t happy with them. That painting was challenging but ended up producing some happy accidents and new ideas.
I also asked Neovi if she had any favourite techiques and tools that she used in her work. Dripping and splashing paint were two techniques alongside the use of her favourite palette knife.
Neovi went on to talk about how her painting style has evolved over the years. From painting small, really realistic pieces to one day forgetting her glasses and not being able to see well enough to tackle the small details. This pushed her to go bigger and more abstract.
Bob McGilvary was one of her painting tutors at Duncan of Jordanstone and Neovi spoke very fondly of him. “If it wasn’t for him giving me confidence and bits of advice then I really don’t think I would create the paintings that I do today”. Elaine Shemilt also “gave me so much encouragement and motivation to spur me on”, as did Phil Breham who “helped me with tech advice and artist’s inspiration”.
Neovi went back to talking about her style and tools. “When I was in London I discovered hogs hair brushes, they hold much more paint in them and they have changed the way I paint”. “I also love to use oil bars and inks, a little bit of pencil from time to time, paint and printmaking too (monoprinting and lithography is fun).
I asked Neovi about her current work. “Just now it is mainly landscapes, I have found a lot of confidence painting them. When I was younger I did a lot of figurative work, still life and some landscapes then too”.
As with every artist who exhibits with Irving at the salon he asks me to ask them the same three questions, here are Neovi’s responses:
What is creativity? “It is being able to use your inspiration and influences to express emotions and thoughts in a visually stimulating way”
How do you use it? “To produce captivating paintings to transport the viewer’s mind to a similar state of conciousness that I was in when I created them”.
Describe in 3 words: “Spontaneity, Passion, Emotion”
Neovi’s exhibition opens on 21st August, with the opening night at the salon 7-9pm. All are welcome to come along, join us and meet the artist.