Mary Karananos is a Sydney based contemporary artist whose illustrative work is inspired by nature, the human form, Greek symbolism and mythology. Her works captivate through their elegant simplicity. I caught up with Mary to find out more about her latest collection of works and what inspires her art making.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you create.
I’m a Sydney born contemporary artist. Growing up in a Greek family with an artist mother, I’ve always been surrounded by creative stimulus. I write, practice photography and art making and also have a long-standing career in media where I develop advertising campaigns & content for brands.
When I am not working, or creating art, I’m usually down at the beach with my husband. It’s my happy place and an endless source of inspiration.
Tell us a bit about your Greek heritage and how this has influenced your art making.
I think my Greek heritage has really started to come through in my work more prominently of late. Perhaps not having the luxury to visit Greece so easily these past few years has awoken a hunger to find its beauty in my imagination and then realise it through my art. And when VESY, a collection of carefully curated pieces from around the world approached me for a Greek inspired bespoke body of work, the stars aligned. Looking at some of my recent work which interweaves the olive tree with the human form, it might be easy to guess that I’ve got Peloponnese heritage.
Talk to us about your latest collection; their Greek roots and meaning.
In FORMA, my latest body of work sold exclusively through VESY, I’ve taken inspiration from Greek symbolism, mythology, nature and the curves of the human form.
For example, Ode to Athena depicts the ancient Goddess without the usual armour, celebrating her curvaceous form with unfinished line work as she is beyond definition.
In Peace + Protection the traditional Mati (eye) symbol takes on a different meaning by being fused with an olive branch, a symbol of peace. In Olivia and Kouros the olive tree is personified as though nature intended it all along. Our Greek culture is a rich tapestry of symbolism and meaning from where one can draw endless inspiration.
What are your biggest artistic influences?
Influences are endless really, but if I had to narrow it down - nature, the human form and the eye-opening experiences of travel. I also consume and collect art, so there’s always something on my wall that inspires me. One of my favourite pieces I purchased from Nuño, a talented artist I met in Altea, Spain.
Artist's studio with original works KOUROS (right) and SOMA (left)
Where do you find inspiration and what motivates you to create?
I’ll often see an idea for an artwork in my head when I’m doing something totally unrelated and make a note of it to work up at a later stage. It’s quite a sporadic process.
For me, art is a way of expressing my perspective and the beauty I find in the world.
What do you find most satisfying about making art?
Creating art is a form of mindfulness, I find peace in it. I also love unveiling a shape or idea that I’ve imagined on paper. There’s a certain magic about discovering beauty in simplicity. A bit like when you take a photograph, the perfect shot doesn’t need the entire scene in view to be perfect.
What’s next for you? Goals and dreams?
Returning to Greece for a holiday is definitely on the cards.
As for art-making, I’ll just keep enjoying creating, evolving and exploring and see where it takes me; not knowing is part of the fun.
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