Agraduate from the South Australian School Of Art, Eleni Nakopoulos was once a highly successful art director with a major Australian advertising agency, but, since realising her passion lay with visual arts, she has produced several bodies of work, each with a discrete purpose and meaning. She took five minutes to talk to the BRAG about her latest work,life captured.

Tell us about life captured.

This latest exhibition consists of seven paintings, all oil on canvas/linen ranging in size from 180cmx137cm to 137cmx91cm. The subject matter is zoo/captive animals (cheetah, leopard, snake, elephant, monkey, gorilla and giraffe). My aim is to show the beauty of each of these creatures, but with a sinister underpinning, that appears by way of a cage or fence, that only becomes obvious in most cases when each painting is closely inspected. On average, each painting takes around four months to finish.

What was the inspiration for this project?

The theme, life captured, was inspired by the increasing unease I was feeling in visits to Taronga Zoo as my son was growing up. I was finding it increasingly disturbing to find so many magnificent creatures housed in an environment so foreign to their natural habitat, that it began to provoke questions that I find troubling. In an age where so many creatures are on the brink of extinction through rampant poaching, deforestation, increasing urbanisation, or suffering brutalisation, like a recent report of a giraffe in Denmark being cut up into pieces and fed to the lions because it didn’t have the right genes. I find it ironic that eventually, what is naturally wild and free, may only survive in a caged or controlled environment. It begs the question – surely there must be another way?

What are you working on next?

As far as future work, I am wrestling with a few ideas. One of them might be a series of portraits in a similar style (figurative expressionism), which explores the emotional state of the various subjects as the primary focus.

What is your spirit animal?

If there is any creature that I would consider to be my spiritual symbol, then it would be the cheetah. I admire the cheetah’s physicality, its agility, it’s spirit and its regal bearing.

life capturedis open until Saturday March 15 atThe Depot Gallery II, Waterloo.

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