Nafsika Petrogka

Portrait of Made in Arts London Artist Nafsika PetrogkaNafsika Petrogka

MA Illustration, Camberwell College of Arts 2016

Nafsika’s black and white pieces are an exploration of the fast expanding urban centres of the 20th century and the complex relationship between man and the city, and in extension to this between man and the ever so promising 'modern age', through her diverse printmaking.

Black and white photography of ‘Great Depression’ American urban centres were the inspiration for ‘The Modern Life’ series as they forced society to study the foundations of the modern world we were creating. Alongside the use of scale and composition in photographic and cinematic stills from the same period and the appropriation of the suit in the art of Charlie Chaplin and Rene Magritte.

Nafsika’s sepia pieces are part of a project based on the philosophical text 'Ascesis' by Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. Kazantzakis thought that there are two streams in life: the first one runs toward ascesis, synthesis, life and immortality, while the second one runs towards dissolution, matter, death. However, both streams are part of the universe, and being so, sacred. One of Kazantzakis' main concerns was what force drives the uncreated to the created. As opposition seems to be intrinsic to life and infinite, human beings should strive to ascend to a harmonic view of these oppositions, to be a guide for thought and action. The images work as a thematic narrative.

In Ascesis the author uses a passionate and poetic style and sets down the philosophy embedded in everything he has written. Nafsika was inspired by the rich imagery of the book in combination with the transcendental element that permeates the book throughout.

For this project Nafsika researched the transcending element in art via semiotics and more specifically the use of light in composition to mark the presence of the divine. From Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro and the flaming world of Hieronymus Bosch, to post-apocalyptic video game art and the cinematography of Terrence Malick, a diverse library of references was formed.

The philosophical nature of the book pushed Nafsika to explore the boundaries of the abstract element in illustration and subtly transition into a figurative image. The ‘reading’ of the abstract marks created a totally different process of image making as Nafsika had to be respectful to the material and listen closely to the directions it suggested to her. She created an archive of abstract monoprint images as well as an archive of photos of the plates the she had used for monoprinting prior to putting them through the press. Pencil and pen additions brought back control and helped shape the images.

Nafsika's third collection with MiAL sees a very strong development within her as an artist, and also her work taking a more personal approach. Revisiting previous ideas of The Modern Life, exploring the complex relationship between man and city, this project see's urban scenery recognisable of Athen's as Nafsika tries to make sense of the weight of austerity and the refugee crisis which grips her homeland.

The selective thematic narrative, set in in the multidimensional melting pot that is Athens, explores the city as a background, a catalyst, a despot, a separate entity, a witness, a helper. The heavy atmosphere in combination with the lack of identity and gentrification that characterises a generation of young Greeks, creates a tense confusing atmosphere.


"Like so many artists through my work I try to answer questions, to restore my relationship with personal and collective memory, to communicate with my surroundings and reach out a hand to fellow wanderers."



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