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All Eyes On: Natasha Metaxa - Painting, Light & Inspiration

This week, we talked to Natasha Metaxa, a great artist and one of our tutors, who is based in Athens and occasionally lives in London, too.

Natasha wants her paintings to be like an open window on the wall; She wants them to be a silent source of energy in the space. She believes that happiness comes when logic and feelings are perfectly balanced and her paintings are the visual transfer of this condition, by using Euclidean geometry and pure colours. The way Ancient Greeks perceived beauty had influenced her a lot. She admires the way they succeeded to achieve harmony by using maths and geometry and that thei main goal was to create absolute beauty. Through her work she tries to unveil the hidden beauty oft he human figure, the feelings that a landscape can emulate. She holds a deep interest of light. The interaction between light, human figure and landscape fascinates her a lot. That’s the reason why she loves creating art in Kefalonia.

Natasha shares her life between her two studios. During the winters he works on her new paintings in her Athens studio and she travels a lot. Her second studio is located at Poros Village in Kefalonia Island, Greece, where she stays for a couple of months every year. Theres he runs MetaxArt workshops and she enjoys painting with daylight as the weather is great and the landscape is very picturesque and inspiring. In our “Ten Questions“ Q&A-session we talked to Natasha about travelling, teaching and painting at home and far away.

1. Which trip / tour had the biggest impact on you and your life as an artist and why?

I can’t choose one. I am an artist on the move. Every year I travel somewhere and the place I visit always offers me a unique experience. Every place I visit inspires me through the art I see in Museums, galleries, Art Fairs or the local artists themselves etc. In Berlin I saw works of Kiefer and Richter, Durer, Cranach, in Amsterdam Rebrand, Van Gogh and Vermeer. In Oslo I discovered the real Munch and sculptor Vigeland, in Barcelona Picasso, Dali, Miro and Gaudi. In Vienna Klimt, Schiele, The list is endless. Wherever I travel, I study, feel and observe. In Firenze, where I studied art, the Renaissance Masters unveiled to me the importance of structure. In London, where I stay a lot, I experience good contemporary art. Not to mention New York, where I have also studied and exhibited how much I was influenced from the multi-cultured art scene. Loads of paintings I have made got direct inspiration from places that I have visited, like Azores, The Spice Market of Istanbul, the cold Scottish light, etc. Coming back to Athens sometimes I find myself feeling like a visitor and I have the privilege to see Parthenon every day - sunset walks at Acropolis which offer me great inspiration as well.

2. Why is travelling important for you as an artist?

I am what I am because of what I am experience and learn. Both of them are unlimited. Artists’ creations come as a result of this; what you feel, what you learn and experience. These are the major things that traveling offers: Experience and knowledge! Artists need new settings to paint away from their usual surroundings. They need new visual stimuli in order to discover different qualities of light, to be exposed in the variety of shapes which are created by the diversity of landscape. Artists have to be involved in the different atmospheres of the cities, smell the difference between Helsinki and Lisboa! They are hiding a huge variety of pictures and emotions. For that reason I travel a lot and I really enjoy the contrast between the cold light of more northern countries and Kefalonian light where the hues are expanded to an unlimited scale.

3. What’s your favourite destination to paint and why?

I especially love painting in Kefalonia, Greece; both indoors and outdoors. The light is unique. Kefalonia is an ideal environment to approach art with all your senses.

4. Is there a destination you haven’t been to yet that you would love to visit?

Oh yes!!! There are places I dream to visit. I would love to go to New Zealand, Madagascar, Iceland. South America is also a very interesting destination with great art in countries like Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile etc.

5. What motivated you to start your teaching career?

My passion for painting and art. My motivation is my personal belief that knowledge has to be shared and spread. I am a very social person who loves being with people that want to learn. They give their own vision about art and life back to you. As a Research Fellow at the University of the Aegean, I used to teach Methodology of Teaching Art. Teaching art requires special abilities because you have to make your students-artists realise what they see and feel and help them to visualise it. Explain them, help them discover their own visual language and prevent them from copying.

6. What were those formative days of teaching like?

I started teaching art as soon as I finished my studies in art. I was lucky to study art in a variety of countries and cities, in Florence, New York, Athens and I realised very early that teaching art is something that can be done in a variety of ways. This gave the ability to understand that people of different ages, backgrounds and culture have peculiar needs in learning art. All my researches were about teaching art methodology so at the end I found myself teaching this subject at the Aegean University in Greece.

7. What do you like most about the combination of teaching and travelling?

I love the moment when I am whispering in the eyes of my students, who come from different cultures/countries/backgrounds, to make them successfully discover the beauty of Kefalonia's nature and visualise it in their own unique way. This is what triggers me. Artists who travel have cultural awareness. People who combine their holidays with education and art are really very interesting. I have met people from all over the world and we have so many things to share together.

8. What was the funniest experience throughout your teaching career?

Oh! What happened was a case of black humour as we say! One day I had read on the local newspaper that one of my students had passed away and I was shocked. She was a very nice lady about 45 years old and married to a quite older man. I told this to some other students and we arranged to send wreaths and go together to the funeral. In Greece we have the custom of sending wreaths from which are hanging sashes on which is written: to our beloved friend, the name of whom had died and the name of whom had sent the wreath.

When we arrived at the funeral, we were crying, still shocked from her death and for our great surprise we saw her there! She was alive! The one who had passed away was her husband! We were double shocked! We started smiling and hugging her and kissing her. Then we realised that the wreaths we offered had her name on. We started searching them in order to unhung the sashes in the most district manner! The widow was wondering about our strange behaviour. She couldn’t understand why we were so emotional about her husband’s death and what we were doing with the wreaths. The cause of that huge misunderstanding was that her first name initials were the same with her husband’s and they had the same last name. Of course later on we shared with her the whole story. We still laugh when a student in the class refers to this incident.

9. What inspires you and which motifs do you like best, and why?

The relation between landscapes, man-made interiors and light are my true love. There are always the elements which trigger my imagination and desire to create a painting.

10. What artists influence your work most?

I was influenced by many artists from different eras and styles; the way Ancient Greeks approached harmony as an element of beauty, Veronese for his structure, Michelangelo for the strength of his holly figures, Van Gogh and Gaugin for their colours, Klee for his organised abstraction and his freedom, Hopper for the atmosphere he creates, Hockney with his happy and playful attitude.

11. If you hadn’t become an artist, what would you be doing right now?

I am painting since I was a child. When I was little and my parents took me at the playground I always kept my brushes with me “in case I might need them”. As far as I remember myself the only thing I wanted in my life is to become an artist. Apart that perhaps I could be a nomad journalist writing about different places worldwide.

12. You are going to spend 6 months of painting in Kefalonia in Greece from May to October – everybody who wants to attend a painting class is invited to join.

I usually stay in Kefalonia Island from May till October because the weather is fantastic and I enjoy painting with natural light. The clarity of light in Kefalonia has influenced the way I perceive colour. It is so wild and strong that it stretches all colours to their limits. Even if it is a light that you can’t hide yourself from, it will never make you suffer as you can always find shelter under a shadow. In the coolness of the foliage you discover that blue becomes more intense, green gets analysed from the softest lemon yellow up to the deepest emerald you have ever imagined. Red and orange are very discreetly separated and the difficult yellow offers you its whole range. The Kefalonian landscape guides you in an unlimited range of hues, values and shapes. The light touches the sea surface, slides provocatively through foliage, slopes, holes, shutters and illuminates even the darkest interior, revealing everything in its authentic volume. This is an experience that I want to share with people who join my workshops at MetaxArt studio. The workshop includes a structured course on colour analysis and elements of composition using the environment as the visual stimulus through which students can develop their awareness and abilities regardless of their level or style of their work.

Apart from this, do you have any upcoming shows, collaborations, you would like us to know about?

I recently had my solo show in Athens and now I am working on a new series of paintings and collages, which are more colourful from the previous work. They are a little bit pop artie. At the moment I am focusing on setting up a solo show in London with my collages and participate in a few group shows with paintings in Athens.

Our tutor Natasha Metaxa answered 10 interesting questions for us. Picture: MetaxArt.

Posted in artistravel international news, Artists, Creativity, Travel, Painting on Mar 13, 2019