I don’t care about art for art’s sake
What do you find inspiring for your art?
I am interested in life, in the poetry around us. The sun illuminating the rocks by the sea and the concrete city. The endless movement of the sea. The people, their routine and their passions. Their moments of serenity, the undisguised moments. Love and the worries that leave them scarred.
What do you think it is the challenge in the art of painting?
I find it more difficult to talk about my own work than to talk about the art of painting in general. What the word “painting” in Greek means is the art of picturing life. What comes first for me is the image, I always want the painting to represent something. I know that painting is about combining shapes, colours and tones. Just these, they don’t really mean anything to me. To make it clear, they exist in nature and they are just wonderful. The challenge is the interference of the man, the way he organizes them using his logic, his emotions and instincts. I don’t care about art for art’s sake. I want my works to fill people with feelings, whether they are experts or not.
Is there a catch in it?
Great art has always avoided traps. For instance, the excellence of ancient Greek artists allows everyone to see something, without ever being descriptive. Someone sees the strength and beauty of a god and someone sees relations, proportions, mastery. This is something that doesn’t always happen in modern art, for example Kandinsky, and that’s why Phidias is greater than Kandinsky.
Because, speaking in clear art terms, Phidias matches things in a better way. He is a better draughtsman, his combination is better, his tones are more accurate. The surfaces he chooses to cut are more accurate than the ones in Kandinsky’s art. Also, as he reaches perfection, Phidias speaks to everybody through his art.
Don’t terms of art, though, change through times?
They do change. In accordance with times. But there is always something that stays the same. For example, the Aztec’s civilization compared to impressionists’ works and both of them compared to Mystra’s wall paintings look like they have been made under completely different rules. The time, the place, the creator and the conditions differ in general. Yet there is a common denominator called “art”. What’s more to say about this subject? I don’t know. Picasso used to say: “If I knew what art is, I would care enough to tell you”. You cannot describe art in words, however it isn’t something abstract either. As it always happens when it comes to the greatest truths in life, you can’t put them into words.
Reading the story behind the artist or the painting, does it help us understand the painting better?
No, it does not. The theoretical part helps the public draw information and the researchers place the painter and his work in the conditions of each period. In my opinion, the details connected to the life and environment of an artist don’t help approach his work.
Art critics express their opinions. However, they sometimes lead people. My question is this: do these people promote art?
Within the framework of art business, which is something that is not always connected to art quality, critics have a certain role. There have been people that have had critical opinions on art but they have not necessarily been art critics, they have been educated on a different level, they have had a special quality that has allowed them a wide perspective. For instance, Ruskin, Baudelaire, Sylvester, Tériade. The last one has been an opinion leader on a global level through the magazine “Minotaure”. I believe that nowadays most critics just follow the rules and criticize safely. They write when they have something positive to say. Talking about critics overall I cannot say whether they are good or bad. I think of them as good when they criticize impartially and correctly at the same time. When they are weak and they go with the flow, then I am not interested in them. Speaking of critics, I would like to mention Nicos Hadjinicolaou, the art historian. He has written a book through which he sharply criticizes the movie “El Greco” by Yannis Smaragdis. I mention him as a bright example of a man that expresses his opinion and stands his ground. Criticism is lost nowadays. No one dares to start a conversation. I am interested in people who stand up for their opinions.
* Interview to P. Kallila, “Kosmos tou Ependyti” newspaper – “Culture” magazine, November 2009.