My work revolves around the idea of the human figure and portrait as a space of expression and exposure. I see the human body as a fragmented yet multifaceted entity, an outcome of a process of layering. Working mostly on paper, this layering process is usually expressed with the use of a mix of water-based media, where the artworks are driven forward by the medium’s inherent qualities, its fluid and transparent nature. It is a mode of work that embraces accidental bleeds, unfinished or seemingly underdeveloped areas, next to others meticulously developed in detail. This results in a fragile dynamic balance between abstraction and representation, one which seeks to capture the tonal and morphological particularities of a sitter’s skin or facial characteristics, and in essence, their very self; the transient and ambiguous element in the figure depicted, all that is supposed to be masked and hidden in portrait or figure. This epitomizes a group of work that conceptually is underpinned by an effort to subtly undermine the glorification of an idealized, polished self, complete and coherent, which is usually evident in traditional portraiture. Rather, I am drawn towards the incomplete and incoherent, the fragmentary and the cryptic.
Martha Zmpounou is a visual artist and a lecturer (University of the Arts London) based in London. She holds a degree in Fine arts and an MA in Painting from Aristotle University of Fine arts (Greece) and an MA from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art (UK).
Her work has been exhibited and published widely in the UK, Sweden, Germany and Greece. Exhibitions here in the UK include Artworks Open, National Open Art Competition, Jerwood Drawing Price, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, The Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition, the Royal Society of British Artists, The Threadneedle Prize, the Discerning Eye, Modern Panic III, Xhibit and AOI’s best of British Illustration Images 35.
Publications include Aesthetica’s annuals, Creative Works, ArtMaze Magazine and Create Magazine.
St. Cuthbert’s Mill Watercolour Prize (winner), Bath Society of Artists, UK
Cass Art Prize, (Winner), Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, UK
Ashurst Emerging Artist Award (shortlisted/selected for exhibition), UK
Jerwood Drawing Prize (shortlisted/selected for exhibition), London, UK
Secret Art Prize (runner up/selected for exhibition), London UK
Aesthetica Art Prize, 2012, 2013 and 2014 (long listed), UK
EWAAC Art Award for excellence in Drawing, UK, (winner), London, UK
The De Laszlo Foundation Award for Excellence in Portrait Painting (winner),
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London, UK
Best Art and Design students of the University of the Arts London at the Victoria and Albert Museum (shortlisted), London, UK