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    • Peter Ziou’s Spring Green.

    • Ziou’s Ode to New York City.

Spring Gallery Showcase: Nature in Peter Ziou’s Art

Sophia Neilson ’23 Arts Editor
Students, faculty, and art-lovers alike should take a moment to check out the fantastic work of beloved Hopkins art teacher Mr. Peter Ziou.
The virtual gallery, which includes 20 gouache paintings, has been available through the Hopkins Arts website since Friday, March 12.

Since childhood, Ziou has had an affinity for art, although he said he “didn’t know that what I was doing was art” at the time. According to him, “art means a different thing to different people; it’s so hard to define the concept of art.” His journey began in high school, when he took different art classes as well as spent time with the other artistic students. Following high school, Ziou realized he wanted to pursue the arts in the future and decided to enroll in an arts program for college.

“Art is attached to constantly finding aspects of yourself, it is used for the sake of spirit,” said Ziou. He believes that everyone is always trying to find themselves, and art can be an effective technique for doing so. Ziou frequently asks himself, “who are you now?” Ziou uses art to portray deep and meaningful emotions such as love, loss, and pain in his work. Art can be used to express emotions that are too complex to put into words. Colors, shapes, lines, and shadows can help to deepen our under- standing of our emotions and identity. This can be seen in some of his paintings such as “Spring Green” which features many entangled lines and bright blue and green colors. The neutral tones contrast the cool colors of the foliage depicted to perfectly encapsulate the feelings of early spring time.

Ziou described his collection as “a reaction to the pain that the human world gave me.” He used nature to es- cape the complexities and difficulties of the world around him. “Nature is greater than any religion, greater than all the things in the world. As we lose nature, we lose ourselves,” said Ziou. He shared that he turned to landscapes because “it became too painful to deal with social and political struggles, but nature has always cleansed me and calmed me down.” When painting landscapes, he chooses areas with little to no man-made creations, such as houses and telephone poles, so he can completely capture the untouched purity and beauty of the area he is trying to paint. If he is painting an area with man-made objects in the way, he chooses to leave them out. Ziou observed that “the man-made world is almost always in crisis, but art can make it a better place.”

Ziou’s chosen material, gouache paints, are an opaque, matte watercolor that allow him to “work small.” Ziou notes that “large landscapes wouldn’t work out for me right now,” and that “gouaches allow me to create small, delicate works.” When speaking about his chosen paint, Ziou reminded us that these materials are not for everyone. He said that “each artist has a loving relationship with the medium they use if they can get their work to display their desired message,” and that what works for him may not work for someone else. Ziou strongly believes in “[making] the space you have work for you” and “[accommodating] yourself” to work with what you have. Ziou believes that you don’t need a large studio to create beautiful art, you just need to make your space work for you, as he has done.

If you enjoy his work, Ziou has good news for you! He plans on continuing his work with landscapes, assuring us all that “this collection is ongoing.” Ziou said, “I will probably keep painting land- scapes for a while.” Ziou used to do a lot of portraiture work, which can be seen in “Ode to New York City,” an older painting he added to the collection despite its differences from his other pieces. Although his current work is primarily with landscapes, he said, “You may see in the next five years some more figurative work and portraits.”

To view Peter Ziou’s Sabbatical Show in its entirety, please visit hopkinsarts.com.
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