Penny Monogiou is a Cypriot artist whose works are solely focused on the faces which the artist sees as the mirror of the soul. She studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Athens, Greece. In 2013, Penny decided to move to Hamburg where she continues creating and working. Penny is also doing her Ph.D. studies in the field of Cultural Sciences and Philosophy. Today, we talked about her visionary style and paintings.
Hi, Penny! Thanks for accepting our invitation. I want to start by stating that besides being an artist, you are also the co-founder of the Compassion Creative Collective. A non-profit art collective aims to reduce social stigmatization, recognize individual differences, and call for solidarity and compassion in approaching them. How do you manage that? What are your strategies to create an atmosphere of solidarity in the art scene?
As creatives, we are given a voice to address and speak freely about different issues in society. In Compassion Creative Collective we use art as a platform for communication and dialogue. Through exhibitions, workshops, and lectures, we approach the issue of stigmatization in society. Nowadays, more and more people are struggling with mental health problems, which can lead to social stigmatization and eventually isolation. The more you talk about a situation, the more you weaken it.
[su_quote]Art is the weapon of raising awareness.[/su_quote]
It’s not so much a strategy rather than a fact: The most important characteristic of the art world is its diversity. Everyone that is a part of it is a unique person and creator. If we acknowledge that, then we can achieve the atmosphere of solidarity that is desired.
Why the face is a central piece in your paintings? What do you think that you are reflecting with faces that are de-constructed?
I see the face as the canvas on which all our emotions are “painted”. It is the mediator of our soul with our counterpart, a tool of silent communication. I am fascinated by watching people’s faces on the street, on the train, on the bus. In today’s society, this search for something familiar, a known emotion or an identifiable facial expression, remains unsuccessful. We are now only looking at the screen of our smartphones, we spend a big amount of our time in a virtual world and no longer observe the people around us. We use filters for our photos on social media. So, it is this alienation that I try to reflect with the deconstructed faces. The rigid, grimacing portraits are as difficult to read as the people of today’s society.
“I represent the human face and figure in an expressionistic way. Through the years my art changed from realistic figurative to expressionism. Although I am mainly a painter, I also do installations, like the flag series, to address more political subjects. The biggest challenge was to accept the fact that it is ok to use different mediums (painting and installation) and still identify myself with each of my artworks.”
What kind of feedback or comments do you get from your followers?
„My 5 year old daughter can also do that “. haha. I do receive comments from people who identify with the emotional state of my portraits and a lot of positive feedback. A big motivation to keep going!
What are your tools and mediums?
Oil paints, spray, gold-leaf, color pencils, pastels, and also a lot of ready-mades for my installations.
And finally, what do you advise young artists like you?
Never make the mistake of wanting to separate art from life. It’s a cherished relationship we are talking about!
Check out Penny Monogiou’s list of favorite songs on our Spotify!