Tropical Utopias: Interview With Fei Alexeli

Fei Alexeli is a digital visual artist, born and raised in Seres, Greece in 1987. While studying architecture in Oxford, she found her passion for visual arts. She completed her BA in Arts and later finished her post-graduate architectural studies at the University of East London. Fei uses photography, photo-montage and digital collage in her practice, and is interested in mixing real elements to create surreal environments and situations. 

Tell us about your creative journey. When did you decide to become an artist?

I'd say it took me a while to believe in the idea and myself, probably when I was studying architecture. School of architecture introduced me to all the creative fields, there was a moment I realized I didn't need to have great drawing skills to become one.

I did finish architecture, worked as an architect for a while, but it was suffocating. I knew I invested a lot to become one, but I had to be honest with myself and go for my passion which is the visual arts.

You frequently introduce tropical elements in your work. What is the inspiration behind your recent series?

Tropical is associated with summer and holidays, happy places in general so I really like to use them for my utopias. And from the other hand tropical evokes something exotic for me. In my recent series, I use a repetitive element, this of the sun. I like to play with the dichotomy of the sun and the moon, and this idea that they both coexist at the same time. Who doesn't love a bunch of palm trees and sunrises on the moon after all?

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What would you say your art is about?

Contemporary pop surrealism. I like to create surreal utopias, with a mixture of Americana, universe and tropical elements blended with pastel colors and pinks. It's a form of liberation from the oppressive boundaries of reality.

How do you come up with the imagery and color palette in each piece?

I have a huge library of images, my own, scanned old magazines and online open sources that I use. I start with an idea, sometimes this is just a color palette that I want to use, sometimes it's a quote or even just a feeling, sometimes it's something more solid like I have this concept in my mind very precisely structured. Whatever the case, the result always evolves in ways different than what I have in mind. So I could say it starts from a very conscious place and in the process, I let go to something more visceral.

Fei Alexeli_Facing the Moon_2018_Digital Collage_limited edition of 20_50 x 70 cm_mounted on mdf board_700 pounds.jpg

Do you feel participating in art fairs has helped push your art career forward? If so, how?

Yes, a lot. The reason I am a full-time artist at the moment is because of the fairs I've participated too. The first one was The Other Art Fair back in 2016 in London, I sold a few pieces and there were galleries interested in my work and I managed to collaborate with a few of them. I mean it doesn't always work like this but it worked so far for me. You need to find your audience and your market and fairs help you build your audience although it takes time.

Fei Alexeli_Facing the Tiger_2018_Digital Collage_limited edition of 20_70 x 100 cm_mounted on mdf board_1150 pounds.jpg

What is the best piece of advice you received as an artist so far?

To follow my instinct. As an artist there is no specific path to follow, most of the times there's no right or wrong either, so always go for my hunch.

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What do you hope the viewers take away from your work?

When I read Carl Sagan's speech of the Pale Blue Dot for the first time it was inspiring and revealing. When I look in the sky and try to imagine the vastness of the universe, how unknown everything is to us, the endless possibilities of things that might exist, I realize we are ignorant and only here for the short term. This creates a sense of relief and helps me put everything in perspective. Nothing is really important, we are simply here to exist and enjoy. I find comfort in this thought and I want people who see my work to relate to this.