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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 September 2014
16 SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 For artist Zac Koukoravas, embracing chance and chaos in his art made for a much more interesting final product HELEN VELISSARIS For months, artist Zac Koukoravas couldn't understand why people would gravitate towards his unfinished work instead of his finished, perfectly executed art. His geometrically intricate early work would only hold someone's attention for just a few seconds. Yet when he started putting in mistakes or taking out whole sections, he found that people would linger, questioning what they were seeing and trying to figure out what was missing. That was the breakthrough he needed to find his artistic style and finally break out of the perfectionist mode. "It blew my mind, why is it that something that looks absolutely perfect, yes you like it, but you're not interested in it for more than a second?" he tells Neos Kosmos. "Why is it that when the pattern is broken it is so much more interesting? "It's the inquisitive mind." The vision of beauty is boring, he says, it's what's out of the ordinary that keeps people's attention. People expect perfection, but when it's not there, they immediately try and figure out how to fix it, and contemplate whether fixing it would necessarily make it better. Zac, 39, had to embrace something that many artists struggle to do - give up some of their control over the final look. In his studio, you'll find a small box filled with triangle paper cuttings, like the offcuts you'd throw away in art class after you've cut out your stencil. Triangles in all shapes and colours, straight lines and the odd square are at his disposal. He picks up a handful and scatters the shapes on his black table, leaving his art to chance. "I don't want to make any decisions apart from the colour or something else after the fact," he says. "The beginning is based on throwing something out there and seeing it land." He might also start with a piece of paper and fold it and fold it till distinct lines overlap each other. He is then able to stencil or mark it onto his canvas or glass. The Greek Australian has only been a professional artist for two years, amazingly never believing he could ever make his interest a full time job. Trained as an electrician in Greece, and abandoning that for a career in hospitality in Melbourne, Zac was comfortable in his job, but not exactly happy. "In my mid 30s, I was having a drink one Friday night with a close friend of mine and I was complaining about my job, as you do, and she said, 'what would you like to do if you had a chance to do whatever you like?'," he remembers. "I said I would love to paint or draw and someone would pay me for that and that would be my career." That was it, after finally admitting to himself that it was a deep passion that deserved his undivided attention, he decided to make a go of it. He enrolled in the Victorian College of the Arts and discovered his talent head on. After struggling to find a way to finish his work without overdoing it, he was able to hit the ground running with the interest he got from his final piece for university. Architect Charles Justin took one look at the abstract, angular lines and was hooked. He bought Zac's first piece of work and is now one of his main collectors. Talent and a wide appeal has set Zac apart from new artists on the scene. He is the only full time working artist out of his class of 2012, the only one to be represented at a gallery and has sold more artwork in the past two years than many in their careers. He understands and tolerates the fact that many people buy art to better suit their couch, and is open to taking suggestions, like backing colour. Scintila, acrylic on glass and Zac Koukoravas in his Melbourne studio.
20 September 2014