Sydney-based Harriet Moutsopoulos is a collage artist who works under the name Lexicon Love. Drawn to the surreal and unsettling, she seeks out the unexpected connections between humour and tragedy. Ultimately it is the way in which collage art challenges traditional notions of aesthetics which she finds most appealing.
A: You largely work in collage – why do you choose to work in this medium?
HM: Pure love. I am so consumed by collage. It’s been such a personal journey for me. I’m still not sure if I found collage or if collage found me. Either way, I simply love the idea of being able to renegotiate and manipulate the origins of an image through this magnificent medium.
A: Since we last spoke in July, in what ways do you think you have furthered your art practice?
HM: I have definitely become more restrained; I’ve slowed the process down by keeping it simple. This has cut out any excess noise in my compositions. It has helped me find that ethereal space between something and nothing, harmony and chaos.
A: Your images traverse humour and tragedy – how are these two concepts linked?
HM: At first glance, the elements of humour and tragedy don’t seem to go together, yet they are so absolutely inseparable. Their relationship is complicated and one cannot survive without the other. It is in combining the two that true magic begins.
A: What emotions are you trying to evoke in the viewer?
HM: I don’t want to control the outcome of any piece. I do, however, want the viewer to empathise with the subject through subtle suggestion. My aim is to transport the viewer to a time and place of their own choosing.
By hiding the (flawless) faces, I remove any distraction and invite the viewer to slow down and join the dots in order to seek out the hidden. I guess the real power of the final composition is what can’t be seen. At this point the viewer holds all the power and the artist none!
A: Where do you get your inspiration?
HM: The everyday and commonplace. In the expired and the forgotten, in the real and in the imagined. I am especially drawn to Dadaism, Maurizio Cattelan, John Stezaker and Miles Aldridge.
A: Could you describe the process behind the works?
HM: The first step starts with a single image (the background), usually a portrait, which resonates with me. Finding the ideal image with which I feel a strong connection can take days.
However, once I find that image (or it finds me) I am spurred into action. This background image is the key to a powerful composition, even though ultimately the face will be hidden from view by a second image.
Fundamental to my process are high resolution stock images – my prints are typically 61cm across and my commissions larger still.
A: How do your compositions create a new language – between realism and artifice?
HM: Each element retains its own unique mark. When these unique elements are combined, a new language and a new meaning is formed and this is the result of tension. The tension between fact and fiction, and original and modified states.
A: What projects and exhibitions do you have coming up this year?
HM: I am thrilled to be working on a range of collage artworks for a new hotel refurbishment. That, coupled with my regular collage sales and commissions has kept me nice and busy. I have an exciting collaboration coming up and in general I am simply letting life happen.
The work of Harriet Moutsopoulos appears in the Artists’ Directory in Issue 87 of Aesthetica. To pick up a copy, click here to visit our online shop.