July 5-August 24, 2019
George Raftopoulos’ work is a comment on the human condition. He addresses notions of hope, determination and self-realization. Raftopoulos work is realized in a
‘personal mythology’ inspired by such artists of the past such as Goya, Rembrandt and Titian. In this body of work, he utilizes silhouettes by the artists of the 16-17th Century and embarks on the ‘modernization into the 21st Century’ by impressing his abstract marks upon these silhouettes.
Raftopoulos references the past. The importance of this is akin to recalling personal memory and re-inventing those memories into a visual language. This engagement with the past finds expression through the abstract mark and is loaded with color. His technique explodes the recognizable or ‘known’ as he deconstructs notions of life, in a pursuit to re write his own personal mythologies and belief systems. His gestural mark making and complex use of color aid in producing a narrative that speaks to themes of power, freedom, hope and belief. Through the work we journey into both the identifiable and the unknown. He calls to question our existence with both veracity, calmness and a contemplation. He asks that we seek personal meaning from each work.
Lives Works Sydney, Australia
1992-1994 BAVA University Western Sydney, Australia
1996-1997 Graduate Diploma, Painting, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University, Australia
2018 Finalist Archibald,Wynne and Sulman Prizes, Art Gallery NSW Australia, May-September 2018 'Angry Boys' In association with Galerie Rompone Cologne Germany exhibition February 2018 Thisted Museum Denmark.
2018 Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
2017 'Fresh AF' , TW fine art Brisbane Australia. November 2017.
2017 Finalist Fishers Ghost Art prize, Campbeltown Regional Gallery Campbeltown.
2017 Finalist Mosman Art prize, Mosman Art Gallery, Australia.
2017 "Salon Des Refuses" Alternative exhibition, Archibald and Wynne Prize, SH Ervin Gallery Exhibition July-October 2017
2017 "DeKonstruKt' Anna Pappas Gallery Melbourne Victoria, Australia June 2017.
2017 "Angry BOYS" Gallery ROMPONE Cologne GERMANY June 2017.
2017 Athens Art fair, Athens Greece , Anna Pappas Gallery Melbourne, May 2017.
2016 "Planting the SEEDS' TED X shift, Northern Institute, Sydney Australia.
2016 "The TRANSPORTED", Nishi Gallery, New Acton, Canberra, ACT 9-29 May.
2015 'MYTHIC Nation, Artereal Gallery Sydney Australia.
2015 'Retrospecta', Greek Embassy, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.
2014 'I Could've been a Jockey' - BEGA Regional, Gallery, BEGA NSW, Australia
2014 'BEAUX MONDE' Mclemoi Gallery, Sydney Australia.
2014 Hellenic Museum, Melbourne, Australia
2013 Hillsmith Gallery, Adelaide S.A
2012 Mclemoi Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2010 Tim Olsen Gallery Sydney, Australia
2010 Hillsmith Gallery Adelaide, S.A
2008 Tim Olsen Gallery Sydney, Australia
2008 Annual round table Exhibition New York Arts Club Grammercy Arts Club, New York USA. 2007 Axia Modern Art Gallery, Victoria
2007 Hillsmith Gallery, Adelaide S.A
2006 Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney
2006 The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong
2006 Art Galleries Schubert, Queensland
2005 Axia Modern Art, Sydney
2005 Axia Modern Art, Mebourne
2004 Axia Modern Art, Sydney
2004 Axia Modern Art, Melbourne
2004 Gallery Philip Neville, Darwin NT
2008 Amanda Gillespie, New York, USA
2004 Shanghai Art Fair, Shanghai China, With Australian Art Resources, Melbourne Australia 2003 Axia Modern Art, Melbourne
2003 Bark Modern Art, Hong Kong
2002 Axia Modern Art, Melbourne
2001 'Liquid', Michael Carr Art Dealer, Sydney
2001 Paris Print Biennial, Australian High Commission, Paris,France
2000 Bilbao', Michael Carr Art Dealer, Sydney 1999 Volvo Gallery, Sydney
1998 Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney
1997 Varga Gallery Bourdeaux, France
1996 Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney COLLECTIONS
New England Regional Gallery, NERAM Armadale NSW Australia gift of Stephen Hesketh. Bega Valley Regional Gallery Bega NSW Australia
Hellenic Museum, Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Gold Coast City Art Gallery/Museum, Queensland Australia
University of Western Sydney, Nepean NSW Australia Molongolo Group. Canberra ACT, Australia
ABN AMRO Sydney Australia
Multiplex and Walker Corporation Australia
( INVESTA-Westpac) Property Fund Australia Westpoint Corporation Australia
Novell Sydney Australia
NDC Global Australia
Hugos Lounge Sydney Australia
Landmine Survivors Network Washington DC USA Pitcher Partners Melbourne Australia
Credit Suisse Australia
GEORGE RAFTOPOULOS : Playing with gods.
Looking at a work by George Raftopoulos is about playing with gods. Whether they be a doctrine, cultural icon or the things we hold dear. George takes our everyday values and reinvents them via works that surprise, shock but ultimately reward the viewer.
George’s art critiques the Utopia we have settled for. Modernity has become a “bubble land” which we participate in without resistance. We make ourselves comfortable by playing along with everyone else. But George likes to play differently. He illustrates the gods that we have used to mediate our privilege, and breaks them down. Whether they be an embodiment of male false hood in a Ken doll or Selfie images. The result is the revelation of a society in search of the individual. This is also evident in today’s art world which has become a cess pit of self-reflective marketing. Outrage and shock are produced at touch of a button for audiences who will nod their heads at anything. Frequently seen as cultural cache, George corrupts this notion of art. Grabbing a veritable stockpile of socialephemera, he reengineers it in such a way that in a moment it is everything. The audience can’t grab it, before it is gone. You have to look at it again, again and again. A Raftopoulos painting is an act of play written large. We are reminded that the world we think we have created isn’t actually our own work; it’s a carefully orchestrated mass of bullshit.
Raftopoulos asks us to reject our current cultural norms by using those tropes against us. His works are a production run of cut and paste iconography; however, these are not souvenirs from the market stall but a different universe entirely. Whether it is a Barbie doll or Caravaggio painting everything is challenged and turned into a talking point. You smile and ask yourself “who buys this stuff?”, and then you put something in the shopping cart. The works are for questioners and daydreamers, audiences that choose to unpick a narrative rather than follow a corporate line. The subjects in the painting are physically accumulated, sometimes created from scratch, sometimes a copy of something now unrecognisable. These are individuals with literally layers of detail making them function. In an era of speed and generality, George’s work is about time and craftsmanship. Nuanced histories are evoked through tiny brush strokes, neon colors and bold text. This isn’t about supporting a trend but dissecting a broader world view.
Ignoring benevolent community guidelines or hipster smugness, George asks us to feel small and search for our own identity. He lacks the grandiose self-awareness so beloved by the smashed avocado and latte crowd. These images move from delicate and beautiful to painful and sinister. With a lesser artist, the more difficult works in the Raftopoulos catalogue might get passed by. But George sustains the viewer, via his control of color, texture and script. The audience is left feeling empowered rather than rudderless. I am reminded of being on a highway, following it like a journeyman. The images blur around me with a slogan catching my eye. It could be advertising, a warning or both. Are the subjects that exist in George’s art ghosts on the horizon or neighbors in the rear view mirror? Looking deeper through the neon paint and Indian linen the effect is of a life moving through space. Time blurs the line between the subject and you. Whether seen up close or viewed in the distance the figures that inhabit the frame become portraits. Importantly they are not of royalty or select cultural stereotypes. They are of me, perhaps not literally but definitely me in spirit. That’s George the jester’s key joke. A healthy reminder that time is too short to live in someone else's reality. We should play more and be the gods of our own.
PLAYING 4 my friend G Raft
Playing is the most subversive act anyone can commit.
To be the trickster. A total disregard for the suit unless you are an observer at a nudist colony.
Bend and twist the map to find something of yourself.
To take outrageous fortune and slingshot it back at your enemy, all whilst riding a unicycle.
It is your origin story.
Playing is the choice between the reality you have and the reality you want to be.
It is kindness in cruelty. Love in anger. Tears in joy.
Playing is never an absolute. It is the path to endless possibilities, brilliant grandeur and unbridled misery.
It is one of the hardest skills to master. That's why we give up on childhood.
Playing is more than a game. It is shameful, forbidden, hidden.
It is not being the same. It is isolation and indifference.
Playing is being brave, ephemeral and momentous.
Most of the time it cannot stop injustice, cure cancer or make you more attractive to the opposite sex. But some of the time it does.
Our nature is to play with our nature. So do it before you go blind.
© John Burns 2019