Artist Interview: Petra Kakakios

When I first ‘met’ Petra during our art studies last year she was only 18 years old yet the artwork that she has produced would have you believe that she is much older, and convinces me that she is a prodigy. Petra excels at art, music and Taekwondo. What a joy it has been to see this extraordinary young artist flourish with well deserved accolades in recent exhibitions. When you read Petra’s words below you too will be struck by what an exceptional young person (and artist) she is. This is a link to Petra’s Facebook Artist Page, and to her Youtube Channel.

Petra Kakakios
  • Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist and an athlete in the Olympic Sport of Taekwondo. My Art and Taekwondo compliment and balance each other and are equally important to me. So, researching material, connecting themes, then drawing, painting, composing music, writing poetry, photographing ideas, and training in my sport, drive my purpose and empower me to be the best I can be.

  • Why do you do what you do?

I create art because I see it as my calling in life. It is my mission, my thing. It is what I can do! It is an extension of myself.

  • How do you work?

I am very perceptive and observant of what is happening in the world around me. I often have a strong visual idea from that insight and then reflect on how I can translate this most effectively. I may begin sculpting my subject and setting, then photographing it. This is the Performance Art aspect of what I do. I then make sketches, draw and/or paint it. As I am painting, I am able to hear its voice and during this process may compose music to accompany, or be part of the artwork.

(WARNING: viewers may find the images below disturbing)

Photography and Make up 2015
Graphite Drawing, 2015, 29.7 x 42 cm
“Untitled” 2015, acrylic paint on canvas, 45 x 60 cm
  • What’s your background?

I am 19 years old and the second eldest of eleven children in my family. (I am the eldest girl, though 😉 I live in rural South-East Queensland on 180 acres of mountainous land. I have lived in Sydney at interim periods of my life and I can’t wait to move to a vibrant city in the near future!! I have been home educated since age 5, completing Year 12 in 2013 and home trained in Taekwondo. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, Fine Art online.

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Being true to oneself – not deviating or distracting from who you are. Learning and challenging your assumptions is essential to the work of an artist. Creating original artworks derived from the heart.

  • What role does the artist have in society?

A true artist has a very significant role in society. Not only does an artist bring forth his/her intentions, perspectives, and perceptions of life, but in doing so, creates the opportunity to touch the lives of others. The artist prompts the public to respond, creating dialogue, whether it be internal or external, silent or expressed. As an artist, I think the role is to help the public learn more about themselves as individuals and as a society, culturally, socially, historically and personally.

“Goodbye Sweet Hat” 2015, Acrylic paint on canvas, 45 x60 cm
  • What has been a seminal experience?

When I was eleven years old, I vividly remember how excited I was when I heard the news that my Mum was going to have a baby. There was a mystical feeling about this new life coming into the world which affected mine. I was going to be there, and have someone new to love and help take care of. My Mum miscarried that child quite late, which was the first of a few. During this time, it seemed the disappointment was unbearable. I think that experiencing this loss was a defining point in my life. I began composing music, writing poetry and painting to express the sadness I felt about the real loss of children whom were supposed to be part of my life, and uncanny as it may sound, their absence has made them present, still here somehow. Now I am compelled to create art with gaps and silences, with something missing, so that what is not there, is noticeable and present.


  • Explain what you do in 100 words

I tend to experience phenomena very profoundly and create what I feel about a particular subject. Music and art are my way of expressing these associated feelings. I compose music and create to the feeling generated or vice versa. Life stories, the everyday, tragedy and loss particularly influence me and I am compelled to visually translate this. As the artist, I want to force people to look deeper, to see what is really happening. And because I become, or take on the role of who and what I am creating, I am often trapped in the theme.

“Knock out the Glass People! It isn’t Beautiful!” 2015, Graphite powder and gouache paint on paper, 59.4 x 84.1 cm
  • How has your practice changed over time?

My style is continually changing. I think my whole outlook on art has changed over the years too. I have branched out from only painting in acrylic, to drawing with graphite, to using different mediums and techniques, employing photography and film, composing and adding music to my art – to being completely unlimited in what I use to best translate my perceptions. I have transformed from being timid in my artwork, meekly introducing my ideas, to now, confidently shocking the viewer into realisation.

“Black Rose” 2014, Mixed Media on Canvas, 60 x 50 cm
  • What art do you most identify with?

I identify with hyper-realism and magic realism in art.

Hyper-realism and magic realism create an intangible form that is rather abstract and cannot be painted. The two forms create a magical sentiment that is ‘unreal’ in realism, unseen in the seen and present in the absent.

  • What work do you most enjoy doing?

I really can’t choose what I enjoy the most. Photography, drawing, painting etc is all a part of the performance. Each stage has a purpose in the creative process and I enjoy each one as it comes about naturally.

  • What themes do you pursue?

The fundamental theme of my art is sweet childhood. The components that course through this theme are: suffering, the forms of abuse, the slave trade, crime, war and these are juxtaposed subtly alongside historical and political events. Innocence and vulnerability are evident and simultaneously hidden. The way I highlight the naivety of my subject is by inserting a fantasy element. In the ugliness of the reality, there is an underlying beauty in the imagination.

“Harmony of Hooves” 2014, Graphite and Gouache paint on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm
  • What’s your favourite art work?

I think one of my favourite artworks would be my own painting, “anima al finé”. It is the only piece of art I have created that has truly connected with me, my purpose and the audience.

“anima al finé” 2014, Acrylic paint on canvas, 60 x 60 cm
  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you

When I was 14 years old I entered my first acrylic painting of a wolf, “Call of the Wild” in a Write4Fun Art Competition in 2011 and came second out of 6,000 entries. I was inspired by the winner’s realistic drawing and I began experimenting with other materials, techniques and styles.

“Call of the Wild” 2011, Acrylic paint on canvas, 30 x 40 cm
  • Why art?

Art allows me to express outwardly what I experience internally.

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

Being able to see more completely. Not just taking a quick glance but really beholding.

“The Way We Were” 2015, 29.7 x 42 cm
  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I have witnessed people standing back, in front of my artwork, utterly absorbed by it. The most memorable responses are optimistic.

  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

I think there is a marked difference between lonely and being alone. I am not lonely because I am surrounded and supported by my family, yet I am alone in my endeavour. Any vocation that requires extensive periods of time alone, like an author or an artist, I think you have to recognise the prospective loneliness. To counteract this possibility, I intend to experience campus life, where I am receiving more constructive feedback and critical analysis from others.

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

I dislike the results orientated mannerism that is encouraged – it misleads artists from their purpose. I don’t like how there are political undertones for attaining recognition as an artist.

  • What do you dislike about your work?

What I don’t like is how restricted or limited I am with materials and financial ability. The challenge is to find a way irrespective and that is part of being an artist. However, I feel I haven’t been able to reach my full potential at this point in my career.

  • What do you like about your work?

I like that I can see how much more I can do. This is exciting for me.

  • Should art be funded?

I think there should be requisites to funding and I would like to see funding go through the right pathways for it to be accessible to the right people.

  • What role does arts funding have?

I think it would have a massive role in society. At this point I am only understand the significance of funding at a local level and would like to see artists, youth workshops and events funded.

  • What research do you do?

I research images and articles and different media sources on tragedy, war, genocide, anti-Semitism, religion, terrorism, and specifically integrate child victims. I like to investigate historical, cultural and contemporary events. Painting and material techniques are also a part of my research and depending on what I want to create, I can discover the best processes.

  • What is your dream project?

My dream is to design and build the most unique art gallery in the world and have my work exhibited! I’d like to travel the world photographing/filming people and events and coming back to my studio to continue the creative process! My dream is to touch and change the world through my art!

I have a Taekwondo dream to become World and Olympic Champion.

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

I really don’t like to compare myself to other artists. But I will state the artists that I most admire.

Gottfried Helnwein, Chiharu Shiota and Kathe Kollwitz. I especially relate to Gottfried Helnwein’s subjects, art forms, notions and perceptions.

  • Favourite or most inspirational place

I find inspiration everywhere as all my ideas are influenced by what happens in the everyday.

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Do what you think about!

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

To be exhibiting my work on a global scale.

  • What wouldn’t you do without?