Art & Design



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A painting sits within its frame. Right? In Threshold, the new exhibition by Melbourne painter and jeweller Stacey Korfiatis, she challenges not only this conventional take on how a painting is presented, but also how both women artists are regarded and how female subjects are displayed in the male-dominated art world. 

The six paintings in this stunning series of sculptural oil-on-canvas female nudes incorporate the raw wooden frames into the artwork themselves. It’s not often you see the painting literally sitting on top of its frame. The model interacts with the frame; sometimes she’s climbing onto it, looking strong and playful. Sometimes she’s underneath it, trapped and vulnerable. The inside of the frame is left blank, with only the empty space of the white wall behind showing through.

Milk Bar Mag caught up with Stacey and asked her about her artwork and where she draws inspiration from.

How would you describe your art?

I would call my art (or style) traditional with a contemporary twist. I like to think of it as playful whilst also challenging the expectations one might have of what a painting should look like and how its elements are brought together.

What’s your creative process and where does your inspiration come from?

Often the initial idea for a work or series is somewhat akin to a “eureka” moment, crashing in at a random, unexpected moment. Sometimes it is triggered by a conversation or something visual, like another image or an interesting tree or play of light. Sometimes it will be an association whereby something looks a bit like something else momentarily, or from a certain angle.

Thinking about the process following the initial idea though, it is often relatively easy to identify the long-term interests that come together over time to form the themes that play out during the development and planning of how to bring the idea to life. 

After that point my process is usually somewhat drawn out with elements of trial and error, sketching, model making, taking photographs and otherwise making revisions and going through numerous iterations until I have come up with a way to represent the idea satisfactorily.

Then it just comes down to doing the work. For some reason, there is a wide misconception that being creative is somehow not work. That is the complete opposite of my experience. Actually sitting down and making the thing is often a slow, tedious slog, particularly with regards to painting as it is a rather solitary task, and progress is slow and not particularly noticeable. That said, it is satisfying to finish something that has taken so long. And it’s another thing entirely to see it on display. Somehow that always adds an extra something special.

What art movement or artist would you say most influences your work?

 I have always been more interested in sculptors than painters. I like hands, feet, faces… All the tricky details! I have loved the drawings and sculptures of ape faces, hands and feet by Lisa Roet since I was in school. I was particularly excited when I discovered that she had been invited to create a jewellery series for Pieces of Eight gallery in Melbourne. For me, it was the perfect culmination of all my favourite parts of art. I also love Ron Mueck’s hyper realistic sculptures. And I occasionally lean a little towards the weird and grotesque, so I also love Patricia Piccinini and Julia deVille.

The woman in your paintings appears strong and yet vulnerable at the same time. Was this why you chose to paint her as nudes? 

To be honest, I think the decision to paint them nude started for much less sophisticated reasons. I find hands, feet and faces to be some of the most interesting things to draw, paint and sculpt. The nudity in between really just happened initially because I think clothes are kind of boring, and I could make the rest of the body parts do interesting things with particular lighting and angles.

 Over time this has developed a bit further, particularly as the work has evolved to include more feminist themes and undertones. Clothes are objects through which we express ourselves. By removing them, my model becomes somewhat of an “every-woman”. Her nudity allows a kind of innocence that separates her from conversations about her existence outside of the present moment in which she contemplates the frame. This allows her femininity and the concepts of her empowerment, freedom or imprisonment to be contemplated within the wider context of women being boxed into certain roles, and the objectification of female bodies being sold as products.

Where do you feel your art is going next? 

I am interested in continuing to explore themes of space and empowerment in relation to bodies. I have a jewellery practice which runs parallel to my painting practice, overlapping thematically, but quite visually different. I am in the process of developing a number of collections and am hoping to secure a space in a few shows and jewellery galleries. In terms of my painting, I am beginning to think about a more diverse range of bodies and have started reaching out to people to discuss concepts surrounding disability and homelessness, and how different the bodies of people who are disabled or homeless may be from what is considered the “norm”. I am also thinking about how whether I will reincorporate backgrounds, and how they might add or subtract from the rest of the image.

Gallerysmith Project Space, 170 Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne
Till Saturday, 1 July then Tuesday, 11 to Saturday, 15 July 2017

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