After 15 years of neglecting her Fine Art practice, Kika Pierides started her journey to re-embrace her passion by collaging with inspiration from block colour, nature, form and chance. Here is her story ….
Can you tell us about your backstory and how did you get to where you are now?
My interest in the Arts was solidified at a young age as inspired by artistic family members, as well as the natural and artificial environments surrounding me. Delving into inspiration as diverse as Turner, the Fauvists and Escher, my earlier work explored natural scenery both macro and micro and it is with this work that I gained entry into the Art school system where I followed a direct route into the Arts.
I initially specialised in Graphic Design at Wimbledon School of Art and later graduated with a Fine Art (Hons) degree from Central Saint Martins in 2004. It was really through these two systems that I gained an interest in abstraction and automatism – two components that are vital to my practice today.
Following my degree I rapidly experienced financial difficulty sustaining a career as an Artist and attempted various alternative career routes which led me to my current practice. One of those paths was Stock Photography. Through it and learning about photography in its own right, it set me on a path to ‘observing’ the world around me minus the messy creative process.
Through it, I fell in love with nature and landscapes all over again and reimagined how I saw them through my lens. The consequent images appeared as simplistic landscapes without distractions and where possible blocks of colour & forms defining land from sky and so forth i.e. as abstract as you could possibly get in a realistically representational manner.
In 2019, almost 15 years on from leaving my Fine Art practice and following the death of my father, I returned to my practice and stumbled across Camille Walala. Observing her colourful collages and sketchbook work, I felt as though collage could be a good way of easing me into my practice and as such, purchased blocks of different coloured paper through the internet and £1 shops. Gathering my landscape photographs I began by tracing the simple lines from which I created the distinctive blocks of colour/forms and created collage cutouts to resemble the original images (see my Loupe channel for more on this).
This was the start of my current journey. Documenting the entire process on Instagram saw me move through landscape to flora and back to abstraction and automatism – the same place I left my Art back in 2004. Saving the offcuts from my landscape work in a bag I one day during COVID decided to create automatic collages placing them randomly and blindly one by one on a piece of paper.
I named this ‘Covid Colour Therapy’. From here on I recalled Tristan Tzara’s poem, whereby he randomly placed words individually cut up from a newspaper article and blindly pulled them out of a bag to formulate a poem. His concept was born as a react to the 1st World War. With this concept and Instagram’s 100 Day project I firmly recreated my practice settling on the concepts of abstraction and chance.
In January of this year I started experimenting with how I wished to sell my work by recreating some of these collages as hard edge paintings (See Curvy Series, 2022) and following this transition I have recently begun reinventing the wheel again through the creation of hard edge intuitive works whereby I use tape to draw random shapes on the canvas allowing chance and intuition to predict the results. This is pretty much the same approach as throwing random cutoffs on a piece of paper but with tape! (See Retrograde Series, 2022).
How do you approach each art project – where you do find inspiration and the colour combinations?
I see my work as ongoing ‘bodies of work’ as opposed to separate projects – where one piece ends the other begins. That is to say that the inspiration is never ending.
When I initially started the 100 Day project on Instagram, I used all of the offcuts from my landscape collages based on coloured paper purchased in predefined packs to create work which was abstract and automatic. Following this evolution into abstraction, I concentrated on creating my own offcuts of more rigid shapes such as triangles with an emphasis on colours randomly selected from these predefined colour packs.
My initial inspiration has always been nature, colour, form and chance. These are all subjects that I spent time observing whilst mastering my craft as a photographer both within nature but also as observed through more artificial surroundings in the city. For example yesterday while shopping, I observed a hat with two leather bands wrapped around it.
I recorded photographs of it and was pleased with the colour arrangements. It is not that I will specifically use these colour arrangements in my work but it pleases me to observe them by chance. Oftentimes I place my acrylic gouaches randomly in a cardboard box and closing my eyes pull out 4 colours to use in a painting without deviation. Play and chance are so important to my work.
It is no surprise that my work following the 100 Day project evolved by cutting out random shapes and spontaneously sticking these down to form chance-like images. Because, with a limitless supply of shapes, forms and colours, the combinations are never ending. Creating compositions becomes a game of observation and chance and there is nothing I enjoy more than creating limitlessness in my work through play.
The sentiment is almost nostalgic and harks back to growing up in the 80’s, where I experienced a never-ending sense of play and wonder through games such as Tetris. I loved the pixel art and the never ending puzzles that I had to resolve as well as the neons and wild colour combinations present in fashion. My work is essentially a game that I play that makes me happy where I get to presence all the things I loved and love around me. It’s the joy I see in the world, that I have to give back. It’s also a game of observation that anyone can play. In this sense the inspiration and colour combinations are ever evolving.
Can you tell us more about your “art for mental health” advocacy?
As a returning Artist in 2019 I had become very lost. The postponement of my practice in 2006 created a lot of what I now believe was the root of my mental health dilemmas, anxiety, depression and eventually burnout. To confirm this, following therapy I learnt that one of the sources of depression is the inevitable result of stepping away from doing what one loves and after returning to Art I saw it as my duty to share my story alongside my recovery route.
As a follower of mine shared Brene Brown, a well known figure in the world of personal and professional development publicly relays her journey as a way of helping other people through theirs and this manner of sharing has helped many. In the same vein, I brought my growing online community along with me on my personal journey in the form of a VLOG called ‘Thoughts on Walks’ alongside my artwork.
After all, I do not believe that we can separate our worlds whilst creating something as personal as art and healing through my artistic practice was essential to it, making it impossible at the time to disentangle the creative narrative from the illness.
Now that the clouds have cleared, I can see that a renewed practice is emerging which has play at its heart, something that defined the Art practice I once treasured but with greater and growing clarity.
What is the best advice you received as an artist?
I do not recall a best piece of advice but what I do recall is a greater realisation.
As a younger Artist I was subject to the conditioning that a lot of university graduates are, which is the idea that success in the Art world is determined through the gallery system. As an older Artist with much work on one’s mindset, I have realised that art is as much about the creation of artwork as it is the creation of a business and as such artists very much have the capacity to steer their career independently.
As such, I am working on creating my own business and the entrepreneurial journey is certainly an interesting one. If I were to do it all again, I would definitely study business or entrepreneurship alongside my studies. It’s a shame that this is still not widely recognised that Art is a business, which is precisely the reason that a lot of artists, including myself, stop practising, at some point.
Where can people buy your art?
You can contact me directly so that we can book a chat re: bespoke commissions/ mural work at [email protected] or through Instagram @kikapierides
Otherwise please view and purchase early examples of my 2019 landscapes which have now been digitised on T.V. through Loupe Art
Pre 2007 work can be viewed and licensed from Bridgeman Images
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