10 FACTS ABOUT ATHENE GALICIADIS
An insight into the artist’s creative process, the lasting impact of her multicultural background – and why she must visit her studio alone
Galiciadis started making art as a child
Athene’s father drew a lot, and she liked to withdraw to her room as a young girl to draw and indulge in her own thoughts. Her school years at the Liceo Artistico in Zurich were very formative because they offered a good technical training in drawing, geometrical drawing, painting, and sculpture. This experience played a decisive role in her decision to study art at the Zurich University of the Arts and the Ecole cantonale d’ Arts in Lausanne – where her ambition to make her living as an artist was realised.
Her multicultural background plays a major role in her work
With Greek ancestors, a Hungarian mother, and a childhood spent in Switzerland – multiple cultural influences are at play in Athene’s work. In addition to Hungarian and German, Athene also speaks English, French and Italian. The different languages and cultures that she has been exposed to have shaped her perception and creative output. Longer periods spent living in New Zealand, Greece, and Mexico (her mother has lived in Mexico for more than 20 years) has strengthened her mastery of languages, and broadened her horizons aesthetically.
Her works begin with a visual idea
Athene collects books, quotations, samples, and her own photographs of patterns across architecture, art, design and nature. The idea for a new work is always visual, and immediately linked to the choice of medium, canvas, ceramics or other medias, which then develops further during the realization process. She draws an initial pattern in paint on the raw canvas. The mistakes or overlaps and displacements of the patterns that arise during the painting process remain uncorrected as witnesses to the progressive development of the picture.
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Sources of inspiration
Lyobov Popova and Sophie Taeuber – Arp have shaped Athene’s practice. They also used a range of materials, including canvas and textiles, to create two- and three-dimensional works. Another source of inspiration is Emma Kunz’s drawing method and formal language.
Vladimir Tatlin’s Tower and the Spiral has influenced her style
Like Vladimir Tatlin’s design for his tower, which was never realised, the spiral pattern holds special meaning for the artist as an ever evolving symbol of distance and return. It is the visual manifestation of her ideas – which continually develop when translated into reality.
She works alone in her studio
After a nomadic life, the artist settled down in Zurich where she started a family eight years ago. Her daily visit to the studio offers her a chance to withdraw from the outside world, providing guaranteed shelter and freedom to create her work.
She applies several layers of diluted paint to her works
Galiciadis chooses to dilute colours, and apply them in layers. She applies acrylic and oil paint at a later stage in the creative process to create radiance – giving the colours more saturation and depth
Galiciadis speaks five languages, and shifting between them shapes her outlook
For the artist, switching from one language to another is similar to the process of moving from an idea to executing a work of art. Just as language does not achieve complete congruence when translated, the realisation of an art piece is not completely identical with the original idea.
Athene means more to her than just a name
The artist identifies strongly with her name, which raises the idea of the relationship between a name and person, between a model and destiny.
In Greek mythology, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, strategy, battle, arts and crafts, and manual labour. She is usually depicted with a helmet and spear.
She believes ‘art is hard work’
Galiciadis says making art requires discipline and perseverance, a lot of mental energy, and in her case – physical strength too.