Athena is a London based artist, currently focusing on portraiture. She has just had her first solo show called, ‘Living into your portrait’. Let’s have a chat with her!
Tell us about your recent solo show?
My solo exhibition took place at 5th Base Gallery on July 14th. I was so excited about it because it was my first solo show! I chose portraiture because I am drawn to portraits; their faces, and expression. I feel that I can capture someone’s character quickly in an expression. I do this through photography and translate it into painting.
What was your inspiration behind the show?
The exhibition was called ‘Living into your portrait’. It was a series of paintings of my close family and friends, representing their stories. Next to their portrait was a piece of writing, written by them, which was informative and personal. Because it was their own handwriting, the guests could really engage with the painting and the story behind it. I feel like the concept was really strong, which I’m happy about.
The whole idea behind it is about empowering people to be the biggest versions of themselves, and to know that they can do what they want. What would it look like if they lived into that portrait?
“Empowering people is my life goal”
It’s not about seeing what someone is lacking, we are human and we aren’t superheroes! Our journey on this earth is to have different emotions and figure things out, otherwise it would be boring.
How did you decide on the date and location of your first solo show?
Well, I looked at different locations and found 5th Base Gallery, which was the most reasonably priced. It’s very expensive to hire out spaces, and if you’re an emerging artist you need to make do with what you’ve got. It feels like the right time.
How do you think it went?
It was unbelievable, and full of life; lots of people and lots of colour! It was very vibrant, with all the paintings on the walls! I sold a variety of paintings and prints and have since got commissions out of it, so I’m very happy with how it went. It was practically a sell out! which is amazing! I was also happy with my speech, where I introduced the art film, which a lot of people were touched by. I got a lot of good feedback and was surprised about how many people engaged with a specific portrait as if it was them, rather than it being someone else. It was interesting how the emotion in that portrait resonated with them, and empowered them, as who they are.
Your solo show certainly was a success! What would you say to those who are just starting out in Art? Being as you are an ex-student to Central Saint Martins.
I would say, get your work at as many exhibitions as possible, apply to as many competitions and gallery entrees, and group shows as you can. Get your name out there. Also, use social media to boost your work, especially Instagram. Get posting, get sharing, get tagging.
I’m a big fan of your videos on Instagram, where you share your personal experiences. What led you to go down the video route?
I founded an Art Collective called, Meet the Artists, which is about supporting emerging artists in London. I did a lot of videos for Meet the Artist to promote the show.
I find it an amazing tool to express yourself in a very short time. People are interested in the process, and people are interested in truth. I use my videos to document where I’m at with my painting, and hopefully to inspire others.
“It’s reality. People want to know what you’re actually like. A bit like reality TV!”
What kind of reactions have you had from your subjects, once you have unveiled your painting to them?
A friend of mine was totally taken aback; face in her hands, ‘oh my god, I can’t believe that’s me!’. It overwhelmed her at how strong, and sexy and beautiful she looked in the painting.
It’s about how someone sees you, and you seeing your beauty within that image.
What helps you get into the zone of painting after a busy week?
I usually get up, get a shower and do some yoga. Also, some gratitude meditation – being thankful for all aspects in my life. Once I get to the studio, music is key to me getting into things. Putting my headphones in and creating. The more I paint, the more I get into it.
What’s next in store for you?
I’d say, lots of exhibiting! including some of the work I have left from the show. Lots of creating too; really defining my concept and my technique through portraiture. I’m ready to get close up with my portraits, maybe even varnish the backgrounds, apply bright colours and simplify it. Sophia (my sister), her piece was called ‘The Peace Within’ was more similar to the direction that I want to go in, which is really bold brush strokes; thick and colourful for the face. Then, very expressive with a lot of movement, and bright, glossy, colours in the backgrounds. I really want to play with that and exhibit as much work as I can in group shows and probably another solo show next year! I want to reach as many people as I can and empower people through art. Whether that means doing street art or exhibiting in well known places. So, I’m going to stick with my bold portraiture and empowering images and see how that goes!
Now onto the random questions!
It used to be Blue, now I’m enjoying pink. I’m getting in touch with my feminine side more! I’m a twin and I used to be a tomboy.
I’m a bit of a tissue addict. I have a lot of attachment to tissues. I think I have a diary intolerance, but don’t want to believe it! They always seem to be lying around!
Your spirit animal?
A soaring eagle, which is in my self-portrait. Which is all about having a bigger perspective on life and trying not to get too stuck on the details. Having more enjoyment and peace. It’s beautiful.
Where can we find Athena?
Watch this space!