"The paintings are a journey in life"
An interview with Chrys Roboras
"It is important to recognise the natural need of a human being to find a place where she belongs, a space where tranquility can be found". This is the belief that underlies much of the work of Greek-Australian painter Chrys Roboras. Gallery 7 (20 Solonos Str. & Voukourestiou Str., Athens, Greece) presents the artist's fifth individual exhibition, 'Nothing remains the same', which will last until October 22. And so, we decided to explore her world a bit further.
by Iraklis Oikonomou
- The dimension of memory is dominant in your previous series of paintings. Is the artist a kind of guardian of memory, in an amnesiac world?
We create memories everyday, even through social media. When posting an event, a photo even a quote, we are extending our memory to the present society. Our memories are what makes us who we are today. Our past creates a film if you like of our memories and yes an artist is not only a guardian but also a reminder.
- Much of your work carries a feeling of alienation - the individual in tension with his/her environment. You have used the term ‘in-between’ to depict this sense. How was this in-betweeness brought in your life, personally?
I was born and raised in Australia, by immigrant Greek parents. My father embedded in my sub-conscious the fact that one day we would return to Greece, his homeland. This created a feeling of displacement as I wondered where my place really was. Coming to Greece a few times, the moving back and forth created the feeling of being in between the two countries. In Australia I am Greek and in Greece I am Australian. It's the diaspora syndrome.
- And how did you deal with it? Is it possible for the 'homeless' to find a permanent shelter?
After many years of living in Greece, I have made a life for myself here. I have not been back to Australia since 2004. I think of Australia often and what my life would be like there. I deal with the feeling of displacement by accepting where I am, and to tell you the truth I have discovered myself here in Greece. Yes, it is possible for a "homeless" to find a home as they say "home is where the heart is," but at times you can still feel nostalgia.
- There is a sharp contrast between the realism of your figures and the abstraction of the landscape. Why?
The abstraction of the landscapes is due to the abstraction I have felt in my surrounding environment. It's the uncertainty of fitting in and belonging. The figures are very realistic as this is how I see people in my world. I feel them empowering the envirοnment, more than the landscape actually exists.
- In general, do you think that the painting must ‘mean’ something? Or should it primarily be aesthetically and visually pleasing?
Aesthetically and visually the painting can be pleasing to the viewer. For myself, personally, the paintings have to mean something. The paintings are a journey in life.
- What is the main theme of your ‘Nothing remains the same’ October exhibition? What have you been exploring through your current work?
The theme is a continuation of my previous work. I don't really plan the phase, it comes from within myself. Nothing remains the same is a combination of figures large and small and portraits of people standing stronger than before. I have been exploring the personalities behind people.
- And what is the single most pressing, unfulfilled artistic goal of yours? What is there to be done next?
My goal is to exhibit in more international art fairs and maybe one day even at the Biennale of Venice. You have to want big to achieve it. Patience and hard work - this is what my life has been about.