Artist statement

Beautiful Freak Since childhood I have been sensitive to our strong reactions to the exquisite and the grotesque. For as long as I can remember I have questioned: where in human development do we start to distinguish what is beautiful and what is ugly and react with cruelty. My work is my search for beauty in deformity and the dangers in both. By giving myself permission to be vulnerable and abandoning representational work, I have found a language to communicate tolerance. When we are without judgment, we not only see beauty, we become it.

Fotini Galanes

TEDx Buffalo New York 2016


Description of process

Each drawing begins with an aggressive gesture line. With the graphite on clayboard works, I am referencing a specific emotion or event. I fill pages in my sketchbooks with thumbnails looking for the composition to represent them. After the initial gesture line I loosely draw in forms where I determine volumes are needed. When the composition is established I no longer reference the thumbnail. Each individual mark is made with a mechanical pencil. I do not smudge or erase. The murals also begin with an aggressive gesture line with consideration for how it will relate and function in the room and its surroundings. Throughout the organic process (I do not work from a sketch or a plan) there is constant deliberation and scrutiny of composition, light, balance and volume. These works involve smudging and erasing. In all of my works I am consciously destroying representational form in my endless search for beauty in deformity.

FILM: On Beauty and Deformity:

The Work of Fotini Galanes


Fotini Galanes is an artist and muralist from Buffalo, NY. Galanes is perhaps best known for her drawings made directly onto ground porcelain clayboard, devouring space with a mechanical pencil motivated by her fascination with emotional human interaction and response to the grotesque and the exquisite. The most recent development in her work is large installations where she draws directly on the wall with charcoal and pastel. Intuitively, every drawing begins with a very fast and aggressive gesture line and often with a reference to a specific experience, an expression or the piece could be completely void of direction. With both approaches she allows the composition to develop. Preferring to draw in coffee shops, where she builds connections and collects human responses to the work through storytelling. Galanes also maintains a studio as a resident artist at Buffalo Arts Studio and looks for unoccupied walls.