7 questions to Madlen Angelopoulos

This week we are going to Greece for our 7 questions to the beautiful Greek painter, Madlen Angelopoulos.

Discover her interview without further delay!

Hello Madlen, where are you living now?

Hello, nice to meet you!

First of all, I would like to thank you for this great opportunity. I live in Athens and currently reside in the city centre. I find that its historical, cultural and contemporary elements combined, make Athens a city with a unique character. It also allows for a good lifestyle... or at least before the pandemic. There are so many things to love about it, it's as vibrant as it is beautiful!

Madlen is a nice name. What does it mean?

Thank you very much, I'm glad you like my name! It's funny because actually Madlen is not my name in Greek! It is a nickname I chose when I created my international portfolio and it is also my name in Swedish. In Greek I am called "Μαγδαληνή" like Marie-Madeleine in French.

Have you ever visited or exhibited in Paris?

Yes, I have been lucky enough to travel to France and visit Paris, however, I have not yet exhibited there, although I would love to one day, why not? Paris is a city you fall in love with!

Living in Paris is like living in a fairy tale. The architecture, the museums, the galleries, the fashion... art is everywhere! Plus, the food is absolutely fantastic! I also respect the French relationship with food. It's not just about consuming calories to survive... it's a unique art form for you ;). And it's something I can really relate to.

I know, I probably sound like a Parisian groupie! But can you blame me (laughs)?

What do you want to express through your paintings?

I would say that one of the things that have always intrigued me the most is the observation of people. I find that by looking at someone's face you can trace repressed feelings and emotions that language is not always able to express. That is why most of my paintings are anthropocentric and mainly present faces and figures. Through my art, I aim to represent the unexplored human emotion in which we all hide. Human lives can be chaotic and this leads many of us to repress our feelings. What I paint could be described as dramatic, theatrical, and surreal. I think this is the influence that fashion photography and my studies in fashion design in general, have had on me.

What is your vision of women artists in the contemporary art world?

I am very optimistic about the position of women artists in contemporary art. I honestly feel lucky to be an artist at this time, and not to have to go through what women artists have gone through in the past. That being said, I cannot ignore the fact that women still have a big gap to fill. Recognition has always been a male privilege and the history of art is filled with mostly men (very talented men at that, but still!). This must change.

Modern women are gradually taking their place in the art world. The democratization of art and the acceptance of the self-evident right to expression and creation, regardless of gender and nationality, means that modern women have, more than ever, the opportunity to be present, to be bold, to be heard.

You are a very beautiful young woman, have you encountered obstacles in the art world as a woman artist, or have you had indecent proposals to gain notoriety in this field?

Although I believe that women today have the same opportunities as men, the harassment we experience has not disappeared. Unfortunately, I have been exposed to such behaviour on several occasions during my career. Behaviours that may seem innocent at first glance but can be very hurtful and degrading... some examples: an unrelated coffee with a stranger to "get to know you better", a non-existent job offer to "spend time with you", or a job with a direct exchange offer... (not monetary in nature). As I've grown up, I've learned to deal with this kind of thing better and avoid it as much as possible. However, it is extremely sad that a modern woman still has to develop such defence mechanisms and still has to face this kind of abject objectification. Sexism, make no mistake, remains a very real problem. More and more women, not just in the arts, are speaking out about their experiences with sexist behaviour. As a person, and as a woman artist, I think we should not be afraid to speak out, to discuss openly and condemn such incidents, to better help eradicate them.

A mentor?

I studied graphic design at the University of West Attica (uniwa). There I was lucky enough to meet and have as a teacher the painter and set designer Elena Navrozidou. She is a remarkable woman who captured my interest from the moment I first met her, full of confidence and elegance, with an avant-garde sense of style (I will never forget the strict orange bob she was wearing when I first met her! ). Her whole being moved me, and at the same time triggered my curiosity. The experience of her work made this woman even more special to me. In the atmospheric worlds she creates, full of colour and reminders of bygone eras, she puts women in the foreground. Her heroines are strong, sexual and imposing. To me, she praises female nature and is not afraid to expose herself in her work (much of her work is self-portraiture). As a teacher, she was always present, polite and had a special way of pushing you to find yourself and improve. I haven't seen her in years, but her presence is still very vivid in my mind and her energy continues to influence my work.

I owe her a lot of the freedom of expression I have today as a woman and as a person!