Stephanie Sampson is a Canadian born visual artist of Greek background. At different points in her life she has lived and worked in Canada, the UK and Greece. Oil painting is the medium which most concerns her, though she has also made watercolours, drawings and ceramics when certain projects or ideas drew her in those directions.
Interiors with Figures ; our relationship with ourselves: Sampson’s oil paintings almost exclusively revolve around the subject of figures in interiors, painted usually from life with a friend or model posing. Painting the figure in context sets up a dialogue between the self and the surrounding objects within the limits of a space or room, creating a private world.
If painting a figure in a garden, the same dynamic exists, of a person set within certain limits of a defined space. In this way Sampson has attempted to define her own at times disrupted and uneven life. In today’s world of confinement these paintings might offer the viewer food for thought about their own particular spaces and identity, existentially.
The Faces of Nemesis: During the financial crisis which hit Greece particularly hard,Stephanie Sampson was living in Athens and witnessed the worst part of the crisis, as people who once had jobs and homes suddenly were sleeping and begging in parks and streets.
Wanting to understand these people’s stories and circumstances, in 2011-2012 Stephanie embarked on a watercolour portrait series of the marginal and homeless, painted on the streets of Athens. She was struck by the sensitivity of the people, their learning and knowledge of languages. She made an artist’s book, The Faces of Nemesis, documenting this experience through watercolour portraits and the individuals’ personal stories.The book and art work was exhibited in 2014 at the Hellenic Centre in London, UK.
She was filmed (for a few minutes) making the Athens street portraits in the 2016 film “Plutocrats” by Alberta film co.ClearwaterDocumentary (Subsequently, she added to the Greece portraits, making portraits of street people in 4 other countries).
Glimpses of Greece; placing oneself in a landscape. Landscape may be a departure from the figure, but is it? The artist’s own figure, body, is located in the landscape being painted, sitting in a field or on a wall, moving hands and arms while looking at a scene, painting quite fast before discomfort sets in, but also fast to let accident and runniness of the medium make a painting statement.These watercolours represent a point in time when a body experiences a specific place outdoors in nature. Starting in 1995 Sampson traveled periodically around Greece, usually
with her watercolours and finding not only the light painterly and enticing but also different landscape qualities from one area to another; in short Sampson considers her over 60 small watercolours of Greece a portrait of her response to the country.
Fragile Ceramics; vessels are bodies are vessels.
In 2014 Stephanie started working with clay at the invitation of an artist friend. Her first pieces were figurines reflecting the figures in her oil paintings, and being 3D, the figures were no longer flat illusions but whole, and exploring the figure as a vulnerable entity using the metaphor of fragile ceramics was interesting, and tied the ceramics to her oil paintings. Making pots and vessels also took on a symbolic element with round forms and melting surfaces as a kind of human vulnerability.