George Papadopoulos, Glass Art With A Style Of Its Own

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

The Madonna in vibrant pink, designs inspired by jellyfish movement, Green Buddhas and Evil Eyes for exhibitions in Istanbul, the glass art of George Papadopoulos is, in his own words, ‘asking to be looked at’.

The native Cypriot, now based in a garden studio in North London is a true bespoke artist – no two works are ever the same, as the amazing patterns and textures he produces are actually created from smashing the glass, which can only be controlled to a certain extent.

 

‘I’ve been doing this type of artwork professionally for 15 years now, but if not for an accident with the glass sheet, I might well have been a ceramicist,’ Papadopoulos explains.

‘My methods originated quite by chance – I had already completed a degree in Interior Design and I was studying ceramics at London’s Royal College of Art when I broke a piece of laminated glass. Instead of seeing the breakage as a mistake, I was blown away by the results. I began smashing glass deliberately and putting light behind it.’

It is a fascinating method he developed himself at the RCA. After Papadopoulos finishes the artwork, he laminates the glass. This laminated sheet (safety glass– just like windscreen glass) is made out of two sheets of glass with a plastic interlayer. He then breaks the artwork using hammers, bricks and even bullets (!) to get the smashed effect, and it stays together because of the plastic interlayer.

What started as artistic experimentations have now been snapped up by the architectural and interior design world for their striking and also functional quality, being very useful as light can still flow through. The architectural applications, have seen one of his trios of 2.4, 2.5 and 3-metre panels being used in an internal courtyard of a London home.

‘I am often creating feature panels for homes to create interesting focal points,’ he describes, adding that these can be coloured to an exact specification, opaque or translucent or even backlit.

In a villa in the south of France, Papadopoulos created a series of smallish very contemporary, abstract glass artworks running along a corridor at various intervals, which were in keeping with the architectural style of the house.

In a north London garden, he made a 2.5 metre x 40cm panel on a stainless steel base that sat in a corner of a flower and shrub border and that beautifully reflected both sky and trees.

He is currently working on a floor to ceiling panel for an entrance to a penthouse apartment in San Francisco, a private commission for a seascape artwork for a private courtyard in central London.

If you are simply after a piece of artwork Papadopoulos also creates smaller-scale ‘paintings’ which are wall-mounted, hung on chains from the ceiling or even fixed to metal stands. It is more often with this type of work that Papadopoulos explores his more pictorial ideas, pieces that are influenced by the religious iconography he grew up with, including the slightly controversial 12 Madonnas. ‘These are various versions of The Virgin, but with a variety of colours,’ we are told, ‘ even using palettes quite extreme such as shocking pink – and different amounts of fracture. The Faceless Madonna, with no eyes or mouth, is unexpectedly powerful as an image.’

Nature is a great inspiration for Papadopoulos and often the images created out of the smashed glass recall natural phenomena such as water, trees, clouds or sky.

He finds working with commissions from clients a very rewarding process and works with the positive outlook that ‘anything can be done.’

‘Don’t worry about any technical issues…my work has a very free spirit attitude so leave it to me to bear in mind the technical or functional aspects.’ For the commissioning process to start he will spend some with the client, to connect; ‘It is vital to get a bigger picture of what they like and what their lifestyle is about because I will be making something unique for them…so understanding where they are coming from is so important.’

He also loves to get the client to feel excited and engaged with the qualities of the material and will often invite prospective clients to the studio or a place where he has some work installed. He then puts together a design presentation, including drawings and sketches and to a sample of a scale 1:1 of a selected area of the design. Upon approval, making of the pieces will then commence.

Papadopoulos says his dream commission would be huge, sculptural pieces ala one of his artistic heros Richard Serra, with curved and very thick, substantial glass. The way things are going, who knows, 2014 could be the year?

 

George Papadopoulos – www.yorgosglass.com

George is represented through Saffron Interior Arts – www.saffroninteriorarts.com


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