Meet: Stella Kapezanou
Stella Kapezanou is graduated from Chelsea in 2017 with an MA in Fine Art. Her big, figurative images show her interest in people and society, where her aim is ‘to compose complex, ironic and sometimes obscure works’. Currently based in Athens, she splits her time between Greece and London. She was recently shortlisted for the Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS) Studio Prize. We spoke to Stella about how her time at Chelsea changed her as an artist.
Congratulations on being shortlisted for the ACS prize! Did your time at Chelsea have an impact on your work, and if so, how?
After completing my MA studies, I became a strict professional artist. I realised that the Montmartre days are gone for good. You can’t really have a relaxed, bohemian lifestyle if you want to take a place in the Contemporary Art Scene. It’s a job. I wake up in the morning, I go to the studio, and I work hard, rain or shine, in a good mood or a bad mood. I go back home, I prepare for the next day in the studio, my next project, my next exhibition or presentation of my work. I do research, I study, and I do my best to be responsible and ready. Winning the prize would be a financial stress relief, but that’s just a part of the artist’s life I guess, it goes with the territory… However, being among the final five artists was a great honour and recognition of my work, so I’m very grateful for it.
How would you describe your work?
In a few words, I would describe it as large scale, contemporary figurative painting. Its content has to do mostly with my surroundings, with the society I live in and the people that I observe. I love people, all of them, even the ones I don’t love. I aim to express through my painting that which I cannot express with words. My inner thoughts about the people that live here and now, in the everyday. Their habits, their relations, the things that bind them with other people, the things that bind them to their objects, their belongings.
Why did you choose to study at Chelsea for your MA?
Firstly, because it’s a leading art school and it’s always good for one’s CV to be a UAL graduate…! And because when I applied to Chelsea, I was offered a full scholarship, which meant a lot to me, as I realised that they really appreciated my art and would support me. And they still do.
What was your favourite thing about studying at Chelsea and in London?
My course, of course. The research and contextualisation of my studio practice in relation to contemporary practice. My studio on the 2nd floor for the summer term with plenty of natural light and wall space, overlooking Tate Britain. And definitely the location, just a short distance from all major galleries in the heart of London. I was able to pop into exhibition openings, lectures and talks, right after college, on an almost daily basis.
What have you been up to since graduating?
After Chelsea, I had a solo show in London, a solo show in Athens, a few groups in both cities and one in Munich. I was a finalist for the Rise Art Prize and longlisted for the Jackson’s Painting Prize in 2017 and I was the winner of the Cass Art Prize in 2018 and now shortlisted for the ACS Studio Prize. I’m also working on my new series of paintings which will be hopefully completed by the end of 2018. This series is more subtle, things are getting darker…
What is next for you?
I’m in the process of having a little opening in the US market, that I’m thrilled about and looking forward to having my new series completed and shown to the public.