Who: George Raftopoulos
When: Friday 8th June to Saturday 30th June
OPENING: 6:00pm Friday 8th June
Artist talk Saturday 9th June 12 noon at NCCA
Where: Northern Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA), Vimy Lane Parap
George Raftopoulos was born to Greek parents in Sydney in 1972. George’s family were the only Greeks in Grenfell, in rural New South Wales. Like many other first generation Greek-Australians, George questioned his cultural identity. ‘Standing out’ because of his bizarre Greek surname, the differences in culture and appearance filled his head with questions, like: “Who am I? Where do I belong? What is this language? What is this religion?” George finds himself today embracing his Greek heritage, which he finds both fascinating and exciting. He has come closer to, and is a part of, his Greek community in his region and the extended Greek communities of Australia.
George Raftopoulos' latest work will be exhibited at Northern Centre for Contemporary Art from Friday 8th June to Saturday 30th June. George Raftopoulos has a national and international reputation as a representational artist with a surreal vocabulary, known for his gestural brushwork and use of raw materials.
Raftopoulos has said that his desire is to “debase this belief system” that surrounds us, our historical and contemporary narratives. Although not necessarily visible from his aesthetic, Raftopoulos in fact engages with old masters such as Titian, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, as the initial part of this process.
From here he visually rejects these icons, consciously dealing with his raw canvas and bare materials with the aim to excavate and rebuild. Yet his approach is not simply iconoclastic and a return to basics, but rather a challenge to what we know.
Gestural brushwork and naturalistic layers establish the human at the centre of his work, enabling him to use it as a platform to question both himself and the wider human experience. The rawness of his aesthetic functions as a form of confrontation in which historical myths are challenged by the recognisable yet intangible, which combine in his works.
Raftopoulos’ oeuvre also includes sculptures, which further embody his pursuit for truth in our contemporary world. Just as he does with paint, he seeks to use materials in their raw form in order to attack the subjective beliefs that constitute our moment in time.
He uses discarded objects collected from op shops or the side of the street, breaking them down and reshaping them. The result is obscure figures, both uncanny and nostalgic, reminding the viewer that what they see all around them is in fact what humans have created, and therefore can recreate. Raftopoulos’ “insatiable appetite to exhaust and exude truth from both materials and subject matter” is ubiquitously expressed in the gestural physicality and challenging rawness of both his paintings and sculptures throughout this latest exhibition.