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Home Stories: Yanni Pounartzis

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This week on Home Stories, Ashley and Cass visit the home of artist Yanni Pounartzis and partner Alice Taylor—and find a home filled with a love of film and art.

Yanni Pounartzis is a true artist and whenever I speak to him in person, he looks at me like an artist does—with a look on his face as if he is studying exactly what I just said and how I said it.

When Cass and I arrived at the Belconnen townhouse Yanni shares with partner Alice, we were exchanging greetings in the living room when Yanni started doing his artist look. I got self-conscious and—thinking I was speaking too quickly in my European accent— started to speak really slowly.

That just made him look at me even more strangely. So, I went to option B and deflected his attention off me to something else; “Oh wow, look at your movie collection!” That seemed to work and we started focusing on Yanni and Alice as opposed to my method of speaking.

“Alice and I are huge movie buffs and in fact we’ve put on a movie festival in Canberra not long after we first met,” explained Yanni.

So how did they meet? No, not over a bucket of popcorn during a Director’s Cut screening of The Notebook but actually at a Dave Caffery house party. Now you might remember Dave from a previous story at the start of the year. Dave is legendary for having parties filled with Canberra creative types so it makes perfect sense that two creative souls like Yanni the artist and Alice the documentary producer would hit it off.

“Aside from our love of film, there is this unspoken balance between us,” says Yanni. “Every creative needs a producer and that kind of partnership is very strong.”

If you think it sounds like Yanni is referencing advertising agency speak there, then you would be right. He was a Creative Director at various Sydney agencies for most of his life with a turn to art around six years ago.

When the artistic calling came, he travelled to Berlin on and off for about three years, perfecting his craft before settling back in Canberra to practice full time.

That balance that Yanni mentioned is evident in more than the ability to execute creative projects such as The Pickture Film Festival under their Sweet Potato creative consultancy.

When Yanni moved into the townhouse, there was no discussion of whose chair should go where or what they should keep or throw out. It was a simple and unspoken fit of styles, comforts and likes.

Alice was even a huge fan of Yanni’s work too (and of course still is) so she commissioned a piece called ‘Snow Gums’, which is proudly displayed in the living area.

Even when Yanni took over the entire garage to set up his studio and a punching bag, leaving no room for the cars, there were no objections.

As far as they were both concerned, the valuable stuff was in the garage…and it wasn’t the cars.

I specifically mention the punching bag because it was in such contrast to the peaceful art that Yanni is creating.

“Sometimes I have to let out a bit of steam and it’s much better and healthier to box than to slash canvases,” jokes Yanni. Indeed, he’s right—we all know from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray what happens to people who slash paintings. My portrait is staying safe in my attic for as long as I can help it.

From this garage, Yanni also offers still life drawing classes to his family, spends time freezing and thawing his custom oil colours and plans out the next commission, all while the doggie lovingly looks on. And speaking of Yanni’s commissions—you may have seen a lot of his work in Civic of late with those strong colours and distinctive dimensional shapes.

“I originally wanted to be an architect and have always been fascinated with architecture,” says Yanni. “However I didn’t think I could cut it, so went into a different direction professionally. A long time later I returned to the love of structure and balance through my art and it has become a style and look that I can call my own.”

The more Yanni explained his art, the more I remembered that artists are about seeing things in a different perspective. The snow gums in the living room are a structural perspective of the beauty of nature, for example.

That unfinished painting of a city walkway in the garage is a new perspective celebrating the beauty of the urban banal. And when Yanni is looking at me weirdly during a conversation, it’s because he is studying what I’m saying from a new perspective.

I no longer feel self-conscious…just the centre of his attention when we speak.










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