Manolis Anastasakos

Anastasakos Manolis
© Nelly Skoufatoglou

Born in Athens in 1977, he completed his studies in the fields of Applied Arts, Fine Arts, Visual Psychotherapy and Directing through various state scholarships and participation in European programmes. Through his participation in numerous workshops, both in Greece and abroad, he gained an insight into the techniques of glassmaking and woodcarving. He also studied photography, set design and haghiography. He has shown his work in many solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the United States, where he received international acclaim and awards. He worked in the department of sculpture, painting, and set design, in the 28th Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Athens (2004). His work is included in contemporary art museum collections in Greece and abroad, as well as in important private collections. He has created large art installations and murals in public spaces. He lives and works in Athens.

Works

Solo Exhibitions

2018

Mythos Kontaki Design Gallery Athens

2017

Promytheus Image Gallery Athens

2016

Home Villa des Arts Chania

2015

Cosmos The Blender Gallery Glyfada

2015

Personhood II Hush Gallery Istanbul

2011

Personhood Gallery Fizz Athens

2009

Minimax Max Artforum Gallery Thessaloniki

2008

Minimax Gallery Fizz Athens

Press

How can exaggeration comply with prudence? How can saturation in colour and style accord with an ascetic aesthetic? And in which way can a deposed value serve the vision of recreation and rebirth? Manolis Anastasakos tells us the story of an adventurous and melancholic wandering in an apocalyptic world of conceptual and aesthetic contradictions, seeking reconciliation, wisdom, freedom.

Driven by his peripatetic approach to empirical reality, he often collects random discarded objects, ‘fragments’ and ‘relics’ of everyday life. Then he matches the poetic aura of the objet trouvé with a wide range of artistic expressions, including among others drawing, collage painting, photography, installation and sculpture. He does not hesitate to combine heterogeneous aesthetic references in one piece, to experiment with the assemblage of pop, realist, surrealist, minimal and baroque techniques, in order to explore the distance separating the ‘pompous’ from the ‘modest’ and to even highlight the common ground between them.

In most cases what emerges as common ground is the effect of the palimpsest. The constant processing of the materials occurs in multiple layers which are continuously added in the original surface, so that the composition, in its final form, returns to “point zero”: exaggeration fades away and abundance disappears. The transition from redundancy to “abstraction” also takes place through over layering techniques, which always go hand in hand with the symbolic significance of each work: white-grey overlay for the sense of ‘loss’ or the end of simplicity and innocence, gold hinting the transcendent and religious element, as a reference to the “lost treasure”, to money and futility.

Manolis Anastasakos immerses in the world of Myth, contrasting allegories of mythological and religious traditions, Nature’s Myth or Art itself, with a variety of contemporary illusory myths. The maze, the thread, the Sphinx, Icarus, the Egyptian scarab, the vow, money, and new technologies are only a few of the symbols that he uses to describe how man nowadays, trapped by the luring idea of progress, fails to exercise self-reflection and to connect with History and Nature. They are symbols used to illustrate the consequences of contemporary technological experiments, the lack of ecological consciousness, the dismissal of love, the twisted perception of freedom in the context of a supposedly rational society.

Anastasakos’s mythological dialectic however, is not restricted to already existing metaphors. The artist invents creative associations through which he captures, in a distinctively simple and dense aesthetic language, his concerns on the incomplete journey towards self-knowledge (“Future is calling”, “Now”, “Eva”). Moreover, always in an ironic spirit, he examines the semiotics of various primal representations and notions (elements of primitivism, hieroglyphs, fossils as well as archaeological references or basic constituents of organic matter), sometimes embedding a sense of wholeness-completeness to his work, and other times suggesting a ‘frugal’, ascetic approach to our experience of contemporaneity. Nevertheless, in a deeper analysis, the epilogue of Manolis Anastasakos must not be seen as another lament. “Silence”, as the aesthetic and conceptual essence of his work, is mainly self-referential; the creator renounces himself and decides that “the ultimate stage of our spiritual Exercise is called Silence”.

“How can you reach the womb of the Abyss and make it fruitful? This cannot be expressed, cannot be narrowed into words, cannot be subjected to laws; every man is completely free and has his own special liberation. No form of instruction exists, no Savior exists to open up the road” (Nikos Kazantzakis, “Salvatores Dei: The Saviours of God”).

 

Vana Verroiopoulou
PhD Candidate Theory and History of Art/Aesthetics (A.S.F.A. — Université Paris VIII)
* From the catalogue of Manolis Anastasakos’s exhibition “Cosmos”, Blender Gallery, Glyfada, 2015.