Exhibition catalogue essay by Owen Craven, Melbourne-based Senior Curator with UAP.
Zac Koukoravas creates paintings of abstracted, geometric formations that seem to float effortlessly in space. Slick and chic, his paintings are reminiscent of contemporary kaleidoscope formations that ebb and flow as the viewer moves towards and around the artwork. He explores the visual play of light, depth, shadow and space to create works of complex and illusionary geometry.
The compositions are inspired by a diverse range of references – from graffiti and electronic music to natural and urban environments or landscapes – which manifest through his works in a variety of ways.
In his latest body of work, Blue Lines, Koukoravas draws inspiration from the overtones of the night – its light, colour and atmosphere. He is drawn to the abstraction that the blanket of darkness creates as it settles on our urban environments. “Darkness equalizes everything – clearing the landscape of detail and context; filling it with the unknown where buildings become rectangular shapes and trees become amorphous masses”, he explains.
This ambiguity in perception is explored by Koukoravas through his stringent and focused material approach. He sets himself material boundaries when composing his works and revels in working inside these constraints. “I impose strict parameters on myself in my creative process”, he explains, “some of these (parameters) include restrictions on colours, forms and compositions; I find that within these limitations there are seemingly infinite possibilities.”
It is within these constraints that he dabbles in some of the more ethereal qualities of his practice. For Blue Lines he restricted his colour palette to shades of blue, which imitate the light around dusk and dawn. Koukoravas says that an “uneasy emotional response is triggered when dusk falls and night blankets us with darkness” and that our “imagination takes over and fears manifest”. While the works are not overtly confronting, they each successfully capture a quality of constant flux – as a viewer, there is a dynamic quality to the works which is reminiscent of walking through an environment of fading light.
This dynamic quality is again achieved through Koukoravas’ material approach. Painting on less than orthodox materials – glass and acrylic sheets, which he layers together in his final compositions – accentuates the sense of movement as the layered patterns are juxtaposed and refract off one another. “Glass is reflective, delicate and dangerous; it allows me produce the sharpest lines in my hard-edged triangular forms”, he says. Each crisp line folds into another to create a layered, moire-like effect throughout the paintings. In layering the sheets of glass and acrylic, works respond to natural, ambient light as shadows are cast through, within and around the compositions adding to the complexity of line and form but also speaking to the visual illusions of fading light.
Blue Lines is a body of work that sees Koukoravas continue to develop his distinctive visual language that engages not only with geometry, light, space and form but also allows him to create work within a conceptual framework of visual illusion that is both engaging and alluring.