Lah Porella, a vibrant and imaginative self-taught multi-disciplinary artist hailing from Athens, Greece, skillfully weaves together various art forms, including painting, singing, poetry, music, and photography, to create a unique artistic tapestry. Her creative journey is a testament to resilience and evolution, reignited during the challenges of the 2020 pandemic after a childhood steeped in the arts. Lah Porella’s exploration has taken her from the delicate strokes of acrylics and watercolors to the vivid dynamism of spray paint. Her work is a celebration of elemental connectivity, delving into the profound significance of water and the boundless expanse of space within our Solar System. Drawing inspiration from the wonders of the cosmos, she uses psychedelic colors and abstract designs to showcase the extremes of chaos and harmony, reality, and fantasy. In this interview, we dive into her artistic journey, her passion for spray paint, her perspective on the idea of "mistake/ Lathos," and her ongoing "Reshaping" project, which underscores her commitment to collaboration and creative innovation. With a trail of solo and group exhibitions across Greece, New York City, and Berlin, Lah Porella's art continues to captivate and inspire audiences, pushing the boundaries of traditional art forms.
Tell us a few words about your artistic journey and how you started on your path as an artist - what essentially propelled you toward this road.
I've been immersed in the arts from a very young age, including theater, music, and painting. In my painting, I mainly focused on specific themes, especially nature, still life, and landscapes. In 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, painting resurged strongly in my life. Due to the pandemic, I found myself in my village in Arcadia, Greece, where I had a lot of time and limited options for activities. I came across some paints from a neighbor, and that's how, in March 2020, I rekindled my passion for painting, primarily using acrylics as a base. In November 2020, I created an Instagram account, making it clear that painting had become a vital and conscious part of my life.
What is the significance of the medium and technique you use? Did you start with the same medium, or has it evolved over the years?
I began with acrylics and had experimented quite a bit with watercolors. In 2021, for example, I started taking photos and, along with the watercolors (I would draw their outlines on paper and then digitally process them), it became something I actively engaged in. Spray paint entered my life in November 2021 through a collaboration with Society 3000, who wanted me to create visual pieces for the space where they would be playing music. It was during this project, especially when working on the decoration of the “donations box” that I first delved into using spray paint. The result was so captivating that I completely moved away from acrylics.
Spray paint appeals to me because it allows you to combine multiple colors and, at the same time, these colors have a vibrant intensity. Spray paint is closely associated with street art and graffiti, and I enjoy using such a medium and giving it a new dimension and aesthetic placement. Lastly, I am entranced by the unpredictability of the medium and its fluidity, which evokes a sense of the liquid element, which is a fundamental influence for me.
Are there specific themes or concepts that consistently inspire your art? Why are these important to you?
As I mentioned, the primary theme that inspires me is the liquid element, particularly water, which is of great significance to me. Space is another source of inspiration. For instance, I used to look at NASA photos and try to recreate something similar. I am deeply interested in the idea that in space, there are so many different elements coexisting with mutual respect for one another.
Lastly, more recently, I've been exploring the concept of 'mistake' or 'lathos.' What constitutes a mistake, what significance it holds for me, and the notion of 'what if I'm actually making a mistake' have been the focus of my exploration. This journey began during one of my trips to New York, accompanied by an internal quest. What triggered these thoughts of mine was my participation in the livestream event 'Future is now,' curated by Kimyon Huggins, an incredible artist and visionary. My work evolved as I faced the challenge of working outside my comfort zone, 'without the foundation of spray paint,' in a setting where artists and the audience observed live. This marked the beginning of my exploration of 'mistake' or 'lathos' as a very personal outcome of my work. A plethora of emotions and insecurities emerged, resulting in something entirely new for me – something for which I am truly grateful.
Do you have any artistic influences, that have shaped your work or inspired you?
I have a deep appreciation for several artists who are prominent in the contemporary art scene, and their work has had a significant impact on me. Some of these artists include Tina Bopiah, Kobi Walsh, Jordy Kerwick, J. J. Ellis, Εneri, Sam Jensen's photo collages, Eleni Paridi's CITIzenS series from 2020, Georgia Lale's "This is not a Bill" project, Denice Treizman, Eleni Milona, particularly her "SeaMonster Monk Performance" and William Darkdrac. These artists have played a substantial role in influencing and inspiring my own artistic journey.
It would be fascinating to hear a few words about your reshaping project, how it started, and how you envision its development.
The project's inception was 'Reshaping Manhattan,' where I took photographs from the book 'Manhattan – A Photographic Journey' by Bill Harris, which I randomly found in a market in Eresos, Lesvos. I applied spray paint directly to the photographic surface, resulting in a recreation of the original pieces. It all came together very organically, and I decided to experiment with both my own photos and images from others. I saw its potential and received positive feedback, prompting me to officially launch the project 'Reshaping.' Essentially, I take photos and provide them with a new perspective. I created the logo and initiated an open call, which received responses from around 60 photographers and photography enthusiasts, both from Greece and abroad. It has been almost a year since I first started working on this, and I'm only halfway there. The project aims to highlight the fusion of two artists, meaning that I don't want it to appear as if it's just me, but rather as a collaboration that respects each participant's artistry.
All artworks and photographs copywrites belong to Lah Porella.