Melanie Prapopoulos

Abstraction Of Experience

By Chris Brunelle

Melanie Prapopoulos meditates on a variety of recurring subjects that all get interpreted on canvas, colored paper, and white paper.  Prapopoulos primarily works with acrylics, charcoal, oil, and pastels with the occasional unexpected addition of materials like mirror and glitter.  Prapopoulos appears to be in a constant state of exploration.  She meanders through color, texture, and materials while meditating on light, thought, animal, woman, myth, ritual, and abstraction.

In her “Shatterings of Light” canvas series, the shattering appears to be represented by a cage-like network of black where the light pops through in various colors and arrangements.  The first in this series, “A Silence Shattered,” masterfully succeeds at capturing the chaos of disruption while quarantining each color of silence to blackened prisons.  In addition to her standard acrylic, she adds a few square pieces of mirror that enables the active quality of light.  As the series progresses with pieces like, “Filled With Midnight’s Silence,” and, “Twilight In The Tropics,” the darkness of this series begins to glow.  The blacks are emitting light.  Prapopoulos is playing with the various natural incarnations of light meeting dark.   Giving the predominant blackness of the series a glow, she suggests light’s resilient quality when aggressed by darkness and disruption.  The penultimate piece in the series, “Untitled,” forgoes the harsh boundaries and heavy blacks as the colors swirl and blend together.   Thematically, this further suggests Prapopoulos’s belief in the power of light.  It additionally comments that neither light nor dark can stay pure upon meeting.  Ultimately, a combination of the two will always happen.

Prapopoulos takes her “Rooms For Thought,” series through canvas and white paper.  On the canvas “Boxed Imagination,” creativity and objective thought are quarantined to different halves of the picture.  As the series progresses, Prapopoulos interprets variations on the series title that show the interplay and compartmentalization of imagination and objective thought when allowed to mix.  “Behind Clouds Of Doubt,” on white paper, is a striking piece that uses both heavy and sheer white paint to cover the thoughts.  The white paint censors the entire painting in the heavy manner doubt can intrude on thought and imagination.  With a minimal palate of colors, Prapopoulos harnesses an abstract subject like the inner workings of the mind as if it were as easy to grasp as a still life.   Her interpretation of thought suggests a belief in the presence of organization that is a constant state of metamorphosis while being influenced by a variety of interruptions.

A recurring animal of focus for Prapopoulos is the goat.  She devotes an entire series to the animal in each different media set in which she works.  Her overall body of works suggests that her interest in this animal ties into its traditional relationship to ritualistic events and symbolism. Prapopoulos creates portraits of these creatures that are haunting and disturbed.  Additionally, there’s a similarity in the portrayal of the animal’s facial expression to the way she interprets human faces.

Prapopoulos may veer in different directions but her focus seems to continually return to women and abstractions.  These two subjects frequently intertwine as is evident in her Mixed Media work, among others.  This recurring thread suggests an interest in the female experience and form.  In depicting women abstractly and in series followed by overt abstractions, Prapopoulos suggests a fascination with the process of being a woman and an interest in figuring out what that means.  The meaning in her work is subtly presented even when it is filled with emotion and heart.

Prapopoulos even penetrates the mind at times and takes on the daunting task of envisioning what that looks like.  She’s fascinated with emotions, emotional creatures, lack of emotion, and spirituality.  In fact, as she delves deeper in abstraction as she does in series like, “Miel Fuego,” and, “Rooms Of Though,” her work resonates with more power.  She engages the viewer with her mastery of color, texture, and spatial conflict and as the eye wanders it can delve in so many directions and arrive at a myriad conclusions on the artist’s intention.  Though the communication between artist and viewer is open to various conclusions, Prapopoulos guides you within the boundaries she defines for the piece.  Prapopoulos has a larger body of work than can be addressed in just one column and I urge you to explore her world more. will allow you to view the series mentioned here and much more.


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