Vlassopulos’ work is an exploration of the relationship between shape, volume and negative space, drawing visual ideas from nature and her interest in the performing arts.
She is concerned in instilling a sense of movement and poise in each piece while also creating harmony. The pots are made with an eye to the possibility of function, but this is balanced by a sculptural context to the forms and the concept of container carries only an aesthetic and symbolic value.
Vlassopulos’ work is indeed deceptively simple, as if the artist had mastered the secret of gently persuading the near-impossible to balance. Her graceful and enigmatic vessels adopt somewhat unlikely postures and unusual angles, as if flirting with expected boundaries. They seem to arc and bend effortlessly in a manner which belies the complexity of their construction.
Vlassopulos habitually uses terracotta or stoneware, to which she often adds oxides; rich earthy reds contrast with the subtle, cool shades of blue, off-white, lavender and egg-shell. Each work is hand-built, an intensive process which can take up to a week for each pot. Sometimes she starts her pieces by press-moulding (usually a bowl shape), followed by coiling and/or soft-slabbing. Vlassopulos works on several pieces at a time, exploring different aspects of expression and form as each creation develops its own unique trajectory.
The journey to completion is lengthy; the pieces are scraped with a combination of surform blades and metal kidneys, smoothed with wooden ribs, burnished with a metal spoon, and finally polished with a piece of polyethylene around her finger...Though her approach is rigorous, Vlassopulos is unsentimental about the limitations of the medium,
Conceding, “A lot of things can go wrong along the way, an impurity in the clay can ruin the surface and only shows up once the pot has been fired.” Each satisfactorily completed work imposes aesthetic challenges of its own, “The most difficult part is coming up with new ideas”’ she reflects.
There is a paradoxical quality inherent in Vlassopulos’ sculpture; animation within stillness, intimate yet remote, expansive but contained, both emotive and discreet, dignified but somehow slinky, uncompromising but never dogmatic, confident as opposed to severe, witty not arch. Vlassopulos’ work suggests possibilities and interplay, as opposed to making strident statements.
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