Costis Georgiou, The power of creatingInterview to Despina Savopoulou, for the monthly magazine "VOTRE BEAUTE", October 1996
His work projects great power, intensity and passion. All of them, basic elements of his character, Costis Georgiou, the outstanding artist in Greece and abroad has a catalytic relation to his work. Every time he enters his atelier to build up his figures it is as if he disappears into an other world.
A world only for him. A perfectionist, he has to look upon the smallest detail. For three years, without doing one single personal exhibition in the meantime, he?s been preparing his new work only with sculptures, which will be exposed at the "Titanium" Gallery in October under the general title "Rhapsody of the Present".
V.B. met Costis Georgiou at his home in Ano Voula. A totally artistic house which stands out from the distance, wrapped around by its yellow and blue colors. A virtually ... hand made home as Costis has left his touch everywhere, starting from the front door up to the entrance. The lift, full of his own strokes of brush is an original artistic work. Even furniture, the table, the bookcase, the interior staircase, a candlestick, everything hand crafted by Costis Georgiou.
Very soon one realizes the earthy dimension of the remarkable artist. He may vanish in his magic world of art but he also has a very down to earth side, leaving open roads of communication for his own beloved people. The only "jarring note" to the artistic surroundings of the flat are the toys of his 1.5 years old daughter who both he and his wife Flora adore and are very proud of.
"This is my second sculpture exhibition", says to V.B. Costis Georgiou; my first one was on 1986 along with paintings. Sculpture is my great love. However, I only started with sculpture when I felt the time was right. This was an inner need, urging to come out for 10 years. I?ve never pressured it. When the time came, I went to my atelier and started working day and night.
V.B. : Is there a bridge of communication between your paintings and your sculptures?
C.G.: My sculpture expresses the same tension and agony as my painting. One who has followed my work as a painter realizes it is the same man who creates these sculptures.
V.B. : What kind of materials did you use and how did you master them?
C.G.: I have worked with metals such as stainless steel and black iron-plate which are extremely hard materials Their nature is of a rather indifferent character. Giving them shape was a very difficult work. What I would like to stress is that all my sculptures have been made in my atelier only by me. There were no other hands involved. Unlike many of my colleagues I have never had anything made by a blacksmith. I wanted to be part of every transformation of the material; to be able to intervene; to experience the formation of every piece of work. This is why this work is made with great passion; a prevailing sense of perfection about everything I do, which functions as a challenge on me.
V.B.: If you wanted to characterize your sculpture where would you classify it?
C.G. : I couldn?t possibly say it is surrealism, expressionism, or anything else. I?m not interested in classifying my work. I have no such problems or insecurities. Unfortunately the art world is ruled by a sense of insecurity : what is going on right now in Europe ?what should we and what should we not do? what does our work have to look like? This is a way of thinking that really disgusts me because it only deprives the world of art of a faster development.
V.B. : Do you believe there is meritocracy in plastic arts?
C.G. :History, on its own, puts things into right proportion. Of course, there is always a possibility of leaving this world without having gained the recognition and the place that you deserve. On the other hand, as things are today where we all live in a world of appealing, it is only very natural to expect artists to make their way to success by entertaining public relations. Fact is that things are being put-up. There are many who place themselves higher than where they really belong. This is the reason why Costis Georgiou distinctively draws the line between an artist and a "creator". We have lots of artists in Greece. Everybody declares himself as an artist. There is though, a great difference between an artist and a creator. A creator is somebody who dives into deep water, into an emotional draining process, without thinking of the cost. I am doing my best to avoid the status of an artist and to simply be a creator. Basically, a creator is a "sick" person; either with a schizophrenic dimension, or many times a genius. Both elements co-exist in art.
V.B.: How many hours do you devote to your work?
C.G.: 24 h! This is a reality, without a bit of exaggeration. It doesn?t mean however, that all this time I?m literally with a brush in my hands. There is also a time to concentrate and get your thoughts together, which is very important and probably more time-consuming than the actual work itself. In times of great tension during the preparations of an exhibition I?m absent. My family knows, understands and accepts this situation.
V.B. :Where would you say your inspiration lies in your work?
C.G.: My inspiration derives from a totally abstract and indefinable sphere, which as a whole characterizes the existence of every person and consists of codes and experiences, gained as a child until today on, constituting a solid organization of mind. Therefore, I would say my inspiration lies everywhere. There is a restless process inside me which generates my inspiration. This is not a matter of being talented or not, this is about the burden that each one of us carries. I don?t go after moments in piece to get inspired. Moreover, I only listen to my own esoteric voice. Only then a work can be called as original. The sirens around us are many and can drive a creator insane. One should be armed with strength and close his ears to any suggestions, which could divert him from his course. Also, it is very essential that one tries to achieve an as much as possible independence from the system, which involves survival, food and generally financial obligations.
V.B.: Do you believe that art is within everybody?s reach, or is it expensive for the public?
C.G.: I don?t think that art is expensive. The price of a work is determined by the art-market itself, by the law of supply and demand. First of all, a sculpture for instance takes up time, three or four months to start with. Then, the materials used, are very expensive and of course there is also labor. Yes, I believe there are very good works within the public?s reach.
V.B.: What is in your opinion the level of the public regarding contemporary art?
C.G.: It gets gradually higher. In my 23 years of presence in the world of art I can see a clear difference. People travel beyond their borders a lot more and have increased their codes and experiences. People do not stick to the same old stereotype question "What does this represent?". Of course, the question still exists, but it seems to come up less and less. People now suspect that art is a multisemantic process. It is a forest and not a tree.
V.B.: However, do you feel that people buy art according to their aesthetics, or influenced by the importance of an eponymous signature?
C.G.: This is the insecurity of the "petit bourgeois" being expressed, seeking to hide his ignorance behind a signature. He has no eyes. This is why he pays. He hasn?t got the sense, the ability to comprehend art. Inevitably he is responsible for his fate.
Someone who buys well-known artists has of course money. If you would just frame them an important signature they would still buy it. You see, a work of art is part of a social establishment and an investment, also a mean to show off. The real art admirer
can find very good works in reasonable prices. There are low and high prices as well as buyers for both categories.
V.B.: Is there something that worries you concerning your work?
C.G.: My greatest fear would come true if some day a sterile period came. I suppose, If you feel you?ve come to this point you automatically sign your death-contract. You are finished. Of course there are periods of rest, or quite, too. They normally last three, five, or eight days; they might even last up to a month, or a month and a half. This is when I start getting worried. But after such periods an incredible energy pours out. It is as if somebody unlocks the bars and ten furious bulls surge out.
V.B.: Would you say that while you create you also think of the acceptance by the public?
C.G.: I am interested in communicating with the public but this doesn?t affect the way I work. If it?s original and made with no hidden thoughts regarding its promotion and marketing it will reach out to the public. Even the simplest man will understand it. I?m only skeptical about the experts. Their thought only is predetermined. Of course, I read critics and elaborate everything I read. Critics can sometimes point out correct things, as long as you have the insight to receive the message.
V.B.: Have you already got some plans for the future?
C.G.: There is one exhibition coming in February ?97, in Madrid involving sculptures and paintings. There are also two exhibitions in Thessaloniki, a personal and another one within the framework of the cultural city ?97.
V.B.: closing this interview we would like to ask you how often you exercise self-criticism.
C.G.: In this direction I may say there is a certain masochist inclination in me! It is this part of my work which can lead me to "charackiri". If I?m not satisfied with a work there is no chance of it coming out. I destroy it. It has happened several times. It travels through seven seas. I used to feel guilty about it in the past. Not anymore. I know that nothing is lost. What I?ve rejected in the past somehow returns back to me In the future ......... It will return......