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Rising Stars: Meet Calliope Pavlides

Today we’d like to introduce you to Calliope Pavlides.

Hi Calliope, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am an early career painter, so my journey feels like it is just beginning. Growing up in Athens Greece, I was primarily introduced to European modern art. My mother, who studied art history and criticism in the early 90’s has an extensive library of art books and catalogues at home. As a kid, I remember finding Matisse’s Music somewhere in the books, a painting that I could never get over as it strung a chord in me, welcoming me in this newfound world that has been since been a space to lay it out. Drawing has been a way of life for me since a very young age and has accompanied me through coming of age and growing into my present self. A milestone in my journey was spending four years studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and starting a life in the context of a new culture. I was given the opportunity to unlearn, experiment, and push the boundaries of making. I learned to pay attention to marks and ask questions with painting. By the end of that experience, I had set myself up with skills like maintaining an everyday studio practice, however frustrating at times. My post RISD life started along with Covid-19 when I found my new nest in LA. I was lucky to have a studio to work through all the sudden life changes and keep myself productive and somewhat centered through the pandemic. Shockingly, even during these weird times and with little connections in this new city, I was given several great opportunities to show my work in galleries and shows that felt fitting to the work. I am excited to push myself in new ways and see where this goes.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have been blessed with opportunities and open doors but my experience has not been without challenges and obstacles. Apart from being an outsider in a world that moves with connections, I graduated into a pandemic under the Trump administration while dealing with my immigration status. I was desperately trying to find a job to fulfill a one year visa requirement during lockdown. I was in Athens having online interviews for jobs in LA and was getting brutally rejected because I was an outsider with an expiration date. For a moment, I considered giving up as I was beginning to feel like my career determination was insensitive to a world suffering from not only Covid but also unemployment. Even though I thought I could let it go, I simply could not give up on the life I dreamt for myself.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I use drawing and painting in an almost diaristic manner. My paintings are figurative and narrative (although not realistic in any capacity) they are sometimes literal or symbolic through a set of motifs that recur in the work and have acquired meaning. Coming out of a phase of wild material exploration during my undergrad, I like to think that I inform my oil paintings with a visual understanding that I have acquired from printmaking and drawing. I like visual games, layers, and subtractive processes that slow down the reading of my work. My last body of work “Seasons of Unravelling” portrays an apocalyptic world of embodied natural disasters, an allegory I constructed to find closure within the hectic and uncontrollable forces that shaped the shared new era of order (or lack of) — the pandemic. Having the opportunity to share this work in my first solo show at Monte Vista Projects (May 2021) was an incredibly special and vulnerable experience.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
As a painter, it is fundamental to be showing up to studio in a habitual way. Even if I don’t touch the work, visiting the studio looking at it sometimes is enough. Being instinctive, paying attention to patterns and making sure I don’t settle for what’s easy are important qualities that I try to implement in my practice. Other characteristics that will take you a long way when working with other artists or galleries are being organized, reliable and able to follow through on agreements responsibly. In the art world, finding entrusted collaborators is not a given, so being one is a good first step.

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Image Credits:

Maddy McManus

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