SIMONI’S DREAMLAND

As if following an unwritten rule, at first glance, I always fall in love with the female artists and their strong, yet gentle lines. The same happened with Simoni and her lovely and serious girls which seem to be hiding an infinite wisdom in their wide eyes.
Femme Fierce Leake Street All Girl Takeover 2 © Graffiti Walls London
The first time I’ve heard about the Greek artist Simoni Fontana was last autumn, when she was drawing with Ser, Junk and Cash in Thessaloniki. The same Serbian-Greek cooperation will repeat this year in Belgrade. One of Dorcol’s walls will be adorned with Thessalonike, the goddess after which the city was named.
Before meeting her in person, I have decided to ask her a few questions.

How did you get started doing street art?

My interest in street art developed through my relationship with Argyris SER, my artistic alter-ego, who is also one of the pioneers of the Greek Street Art scene. It was him who introduced me to this magical world, a world that instantly appealed to me and seemed like the perfect outlet for my creative pursuit.

It’s not every day that you hear of a couple doing street art together. Can you tell me a little bit about collaboration with your husband?

Apart from our individual artistic identities, there is a cooperative part that equally defines us as artists. We work together as often as we can, as it is something that on top of being really enjoyable helps us involve artistically. On our cooperative projects we affect each other, whether we are working on a painting or a wall. We try to reach out to each other and the result mirrors both of us creatively. It is a meeting of expressions.

What was your opinion on street art before you started doing it?

I have always felt that it is a kind of art which represents the need to communicate. My first contact with the broader genre was through graffiti, which was a common practice amongst my friends. I was very interested in it.

Why did you decide to paint the female characters?

Our society is overwhelmed with male energy and I feel that the female energy, with some of its key manifestations, like tenderness, is really missing. These elements are incorporated in my style. The fantasy world inside my mind is a dreamy wonderland overflown with emotion.

The girls you paint can easily be imagined as cartoon or comic characters. In that case, which characteristics, super powers, story… would they have?

Their super power is the ajna, the inner eye, an intuition which provide perception beyond ordinary sight. They are able to see behind the vale and their will is to give protection to all beings.

Is there an artwork or project you are most proud of?

It’s hard for me to choose any, I try to only work on projects I am excited about. I am however really happy about my participation in the Benaki museum exhibition “Like New!” (September 2014, Athens). It’s one of Greece’s most important museums, a place that I always make sure to visit when I am in Athens, and naturally it was very rewarding seeing my work exhibited in such a unique institution.

Do you think you will still be a street artist after 15 years?

Yes I will! I like the immediacy of Street Art – the way it instantly connects the artist with the audience, passing through messages and emotions, brightening up a person’s day. I love its utterly democratic aspect, the way it is out there for everyone to enjoy and there is no way I am giving this up, I plan to stick around!

Do you know anything about Belgrade?

For all of us in Greece, the words Belgrade and Serbia are synonymous with the words neighbourhood and friends. My hometown, Corfu, is a city that has a Serbian element in its history. We have a Serbian Consulate and museum as well as an association of Serbians and Greek-Serbian friendship. Once a year we welcome Serbian representatives for Ceremonies exploring our shared historical experience.

"You Shall Be As Gods", Moniker Art Fair, London

“You Shall Be As Gods”, Moniker Art Fair, London

"You Shall Be As Gods", Moniker Art Fair, London

“You Shall Be As Gods”, Moniker Art Fair, London

"Arcane" a collaboration with SER for the group exhibition "Like New!" at the Benaki Museum, Athens

“Arcane” a collaboration with SER for the group exhibition “Like New!” at the Benaki Museum, Athens

Simoni Fontana street artKao po nekom nepisanom pravilu na prvi pogled zavolim ženske crtače. Ponekad naglašenu, ponekad jedva naslutivu nežnost njihove linije. Tako je bilo i sa Simoni, sa njenim u isto vreme ljupkim i ozbiljnim devojčicama, koje u dubini svojih krupnih očiju kao da kriju neku veliku mudrost.
Za grčku umetnicu Simoni Fontanu saznala sam prošle jeseni kada je u Solunu crtala mural sa Serom, Junkom i Cashom. Srpsko-grčka saradnja nastavlja se ove godine u Beogradu. Na jednoj dorćolskoj fasadi iz Simonine četke izroniće Thessalonike, boginja po kojoj Solun nosi ime.
Pre nego što je lično upoznam, postavila sam joj nekoliko pitanja.

Kako si odlučila da počneš da se baviš street artom?

U priču me je uveo Argyris Ser, moja srodna duša i jedan od pionira grčke street art scene. On mi je pokazao taj magični svet, svet koji me je odmah privukao i izgledao mi kao savršen odušak za moj kreativni izraz.

Nije baš svakodnevna pojava da se jedan bračni par zajednički bavi street artom. Možeš li mi reći malo više o toj saradnji?

Spoj individualnih stilova i zajedničkog rada definiše našu umetnost, bilo da je reč o slici ili o zidu. Radimo zajedno kad god je to moguće, jer pored toga što nam pruža zadovoljstvo, takođe nam pomaže da se umetnički razvijamo. Kreativno podstičemo jedno drugo. A rezultat se onda ogleda kako na zajedničkom tako i na individualnom planu.

Šta si mislila o uličnoj umetnosti pre nego što si i sama postala deo nje?

Uvek sam mislila da je to vid umetnosti koja služi za prenošenje poruka. Moj prvi dodir sa uličnom umetnošću bili su grafiti, koje su radili moji prijatelji. Veoma me je sve to zanimalo.

Zašto si odlučila da crtaš ženske karaktere?

Društvo je preplavljeno muškom energijom. Osetila sam da ženska energija, u svojim ključnim manifestacijama, kao što je recimo nežnost, zaista nedostaje. Te elemente sam primenila u svom stilu. Pa zato crtam fantastični svet iz snova prepun emocija.

Devojčice koje crtaš lako mogu da zamislim kao likove iz nekog crtanog filma ili stripa. U tom slučaju koje bi osobine ili supermoći one imale?

Njihova supermoć je ajna, treće oko, intuicija koja im omogućava da vide iza površnosti. One takođe žele da pruže zaštitu svim živim bićima.

Postoji li projekat ili rad na koji si posebno ponosna?

Teško mi je da napravim izbor, jer radim samo na projektima koji mi se sviđaju. Međutim posebno sam srećna zbog učešća na izložbi „Like New!“ u Benaki muzeju prošle godine. To je najvažniji muzej u Grčkoj, mesto koje uvek obilazim kad idem u Atinu. Videti svoj rad izložen u tako posebnoj instituciji zaista je sjajan osećaj.

Misliš li da ćeš se baviti uličnom umetnošću i za 15 godina?

Da, hoću! Sviđa mi se neposrednost ulične umetnosti – način na koji, kroz poruke i emocije, povezuje umetnika i publiku. Volim njen demokratski aspekt, jer je svačija i svako može da uživa u njoj. Tako da, nema šanse da odustanem!

Da li znaš nešto o Beogradu?

Kad u Grčkoj kažemo Beograd i Srbija pomislimo na susede i prijatelje. Moj rodni grad Krf je mesto koje je istorijski povezano za Srbijom. Imamo srpski konzulat, muzej i Društvo srpsko-grčkog prijateljstva. Jednom godišnje poželimo dobrodošlicu srpskim predstavnicima na ceremoniji povodom našeg zajedničkog istorijskog iskustva.

The project "Gradient From Gray to Color Scale", Ioannina

The project “Gradient From Gray to Color Scale”, Ioannina

Lobart festival. Naoussa

Lobart festival, Naoussa

Lobart festival. Naoussa

Lobart festival, Naoussa

Femme Fierce Leake Street All Girl Takeover, London © Graffiti Walls

Femme Fierce: Leake Street All Girl Takeover, London
© Graffiti Walls London

Femme Fierce: Leake Street All Girl Takeover, London © Graffiti Walls London

Femme Fierce: Leake Street All Girl Takeover, London
© Graffiti Walls London