We check in with Greek interdisciplinary artist Yorgos Maraziotis whose work we recently saw at the 7th edition of the Thessaloniki Biennale. Yorgos is just about to present a solo show titled Monroe Spings at Base-Alpha Gallery in Antwerp which we're quite excited about getting to see in a few weeks.
C-P: Hello Yorgos, you are in the midst of preparing for a solo exhibition, Monroe Springs, which opens at Base-Alpha Gallery in Antwerp on March 19. How’s that coming along? Also; what will you be showing?
Y.M: Hello C-Print. Indeed I'm currently in the final stages of the preparation of my new solo exhibition, at Base-Alpha Gallery in Antwerp. I am actually completing my last sculpture (for this show) and later this week, I will start setting up everything at the gallery. I'll be showing a number of new large scale (almost monochromatic) paintings and a series of new sculptures made out of metal, glass, plants, and found materials. It'll be the first time I'll be showing paintings and sculptures together and my aim is to create an intimate installation the can be experienced by its audience as a playful and sometimes “choreographed” environment.
C-P: As somebody living in the city which has a long-standing rapport with creativity and home to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts; how do you find it in terms of a place for working artists?
Y.M: Well I have to admit that this rapport you mention is what brought me to the city in the first place. And because of its size and its geographical position - being so central within Europe’s terrain - I chose it as my base. I also feel that people here support the arts, they are raised with a kind of aesthetics in supporting creativity. Finally, accommodation or maintaining an atelier is still affordable in Antwerp, something that helps you being focused in producing art.
C-P: As you know, I recently saw Pleased to Meet You, a commissioned work by the 7th edition of Thessaloniki Biennale. I thought your installation which made part of a group show ‘Just a Bowl of Cherries’ (curated by Nicholas Vamvouklis) at the MOMus Experimental Center for the Arts was one of the standouts. What are some of the ideas informed by your work?
Y.M: Thank you. I’m glad you had the chance to visit the show in Thessaloniki and to have seen my work from close. When Nicholas Vamvouklis asked me to participate with a new artwork I knew that I wanted to produce an installation that would question domesticity, would be inspired by the main theme of the Biennale “Stasis”, and would ask the audience to relate with the materiality of the artwork somatically. By placing my sculptures strategically at MOMus, I created an hestia that brought tension between them and the visitors of the exhibition. Pleased to Meet You continued my research in the notions of home, safety, and the qualities that make a toposfamiliar or distant.
C-P: Reading up on you, two things are particularly striking; you’ve lived in various cities, and truly seem to work across several fields. You recently made the scenography for a work which was carried out in Athens. Tell us a little about working in the performative realm.
Y.M: Transatlantic, was presented in Athens last week and it's the new dance production by November, the participatory art group that consists of Xristo Kaoukis, Marion Renard and myself. We’ve been working together for the past twelve years or so, mainly intervening public and semi-public spaces. For this piece I did the scenography along with Xristo and I was also responsible for the artistic direction of the whole project. I have to admit that theatre and dance - and working as a scenographer for those fields - is what drove me to sculpture and installation art. I was first closer to directors, choreographers and light designers rather than to artists. And it was an important “school” for me as I could deeply relate with space, text and and the body. And think of scale, proportions, and the visual and social impact that a constructed environment can have. I believe one can find those aspects in theatre and dance. And I'm very interested in bringing those qualities in my exhibition making and my installations. Therefore a lot of my constructed environments have a certain theatricality and often, the movement that my audiences follow seem directed/choreographed.
C-P: On the note of Athens, I get the impression that you’re connected with the city although currently residing elsewhere. I was visiting Athens quite frequently in 2016 and was quite amazed by how happening the city was in terms of art around then. What’s your view on the matter some years later?
Y.M: I was born in Athens and I have lived there for many, many years and as you say, I go back once in a while for work. I'll always find beauty in Athens and I'll always admire this dynamic struggle that characterizes the city, between the ancient and the contemporary, between modernism and neoclassicism. But I do also believe that Athens reflects greatly the agency of the neo-Greek, the person who cares only for himself/herself, feels that has only rights and no obligations, fears the other and the different and doesn’t believe in self-awareness. If you don’t speak the language and you don’t engage fully in the city’s everyday being, then I understand why Athens can seem captivating and full of energy and happenings. Yes, the financial and ethical crisis proved Athens a “safe heaven” for artists, art lovers and art theoreticians from around the world but this will not last long because there is no such infrastructure to hold and develop further this great interest. And there's no such education among the vast majority of the Greek people; to support contemporary art. It's never been a priority and will never be. And that’s alright, Athens should not be the new Berlin and Keramikos (a multicultural neighbourhood in Athens) will never be NYC’s Lower East Side of the early ‘80s.
C-P: Lastly, best of luck with the opening. I’ll be in Antwerp in a few weeks and very much looking forward to seeing how everything turned out.
Y.M: Thank you so much. I'll be looking forward to your visiting Monroe Springs and hopefully, engaging with the context of the show.
For more information about Yorgos Maraziotis's work, please visit:
1. Untitled (2019)
2. Live and Let Die (2020)
3. Portrait by Nick Tsakanikas
4. Installation view: Pleased To Meet You (2019), Just a Bowl of Cherries (curated by Nicholas Vamvouklis), MOMus Experimental Center for the Arts, 7th Thessaloniki Biennale
5. Transatlantic (2020)
6. Untitled (2019)
7. Come Home (2019)