Words by Keith Estiler.
Patty Spyrakos’ 3D paintings and sculptures made from sand and clay embody a cultural edginess. Her highly-textured canvasses evince a miniature galaxy of intricate markings, crevices and forms that show proof that they are touched by human hands — revealing the Iceland-based artist’s fascination to incorporate the body onto material while injecting worldly trappings of innocence, isolation and spirituality. Spyrakos’ works loom larger than life, whispering fantastical tales to onlookers who are just as curious as her diverse subjects that recall everyday people, mythological subjects and uncanny figures with punkish expressions.
For her latest solo exhibition at Padre Gallery, entitled “NOWHERE,” Spyrakos unveils a selection of new paintings and sculptures that expand upon the artist’s experimentation with learned techniques of floam. In her studio practice, she utilizes varying types of glue, boric acid, polyvinyl alcohol, and polystyrene. She then paints over her two- and three- dimensional art objects to introduce wide-ranging consistencies of the unconventional medium.
Spyrakos’s subjects are mystically profound. One work entitled Hecate recalls the Greek goddess of magic and witchcraft while a series dubbed Fingers features a swarm of colorful fingers ascending, bending and mutating into each other. Approaching her works as a platform for fiction, Spyrakos’ imagined characters are richly orchestrated portraits that demonstrate mindfulness of cultural diversity and the unpredictable paths that her gooey mediums takes shape in the process. With an emphasis on physicality, Spyrakos' figures emerge as otherworldly inventions complete with enlarged cavernous eyes, pulpy heads and sometimes, brutish appearances that exaggerate the ordinary.
The artist often evolves her works based on her immediate surroundings, but there are certain underlying themes that she carries across her creations such as the evolution of psyche, mental and emotional struggles, and intimate observations on relationships prevalent throughout society and the human experience. Her works are largely illuminated by the environment she is creating the work in or glean inspiration from the location of her show. Previous mixed media works for shows such as in Iceland’s Gallery Port touched on Icelandic comfort foods, Norse mythology, mystical beings, and the spirit of the community. Her show in 2020 highlighted natural subjects such as volcanos, glaciers and geysers in their magnetizing, changing states.
In this show, Spyrakos’ experimentations with floam take on recognizable shapes or sometimes they lead to a beautiful “nowhere.”