Stella Sevastopoulos catches up with Kostas Lales in order to discuss his work:
KOSTAS LALES is an artist with a multidisciplinary sensibility, who lives and works in New York, yet doesn’t fail to also be artistically active in his homeland of Greece. He practices different forms of art, and each one is like a parallel chapter in his oeuvre, yet the issues explored are always anthropocentric. Painting, sculptural installations, video and performance, are used to address the relationship between self and same/opposite gender, and through eroticism in his early work. His work reflects the layered association we have with the elements that surround us, whether this contact be physical, commercial, or erotic. The immediacy of human mark-making or the human imprint, is seen by the artist as a way of freeing ourselves from the fear of the body and our physicality. Kostas Lales’s participation in many exhibitions, digital media festivals and performances, outline his research and illustration of the body as a device which stimulates erotic self-awareness. Yet one also senses a Picassoesque yearning to find the inner child in his drawing and painting practice, where colours and lines explode. Contrastingly, his wall murals propagate a black-and-white, geometrical, zen mood.
There are humanitarian and environmental issues, plus current issues that concern Kostas Lales and which he stays informed about, and which infiltrate into his work. He has said of his creative process: “My art practice focuses on human beings and the interconnection between our bodies. The work explores the unlimited possibilities of the representation of the human form through the use of wax, plaster, styrofoam, wood, iron, drawing and digital collage. As an artist, I work hard to discover new aspects of my sculptures that speak both to me and to others about the meaning of life.” Theories expounded in Stuart Russel’s ‘Human Compatible’ and Daniel Dennett’s ‘Consciousness Explained’ have also guided this artist’s imagination and judgment.
For the last three years, the explorion of the relationship between geometry and symbolism has been focused on by Lales. The union of the two happens through the use of human body parts. “When body, geometry and symbols become one, the foundation of image and matter is autonomous and sacred,” explains the artist, who creates sculptural archetypes that present unique characteristics and have their own personalities. Lales is also fascinated by the way time and environmental factors alter our skin and body shape and these transformations are reflected in his work.
Kostas Lales is an artist with a unique artistic background, seeing as his father and siblings are all artists. It’s only natural therefore that his artistic knowledge and creative practice have been nurtured extensively.
The Q&A that follows, allows us to get to know more about Kostas Lales:
What are the positive aspects of the process of creating art? What mistakes can be made and how can you avoid them?
I believe that the positive aspects of creation are these: The dedication to your purpose, the continuous learning of art history and the simultaneous processing of your image as you create. Error is superior to art. The concept of ‘wrong’ has to do with socio-political conditions because each century has different criteria for what is or is not wrong.
How responsible does an artist need to be nowadays? What is his responsibility to society?
Our responsibility starts from our union with the earth and our relationship with its beings. How responsible someone is, begins with how honest and how real to their character they are, which changes daily and seeks to find what is new in their daily existence. Artists should also be dedicated to what they do and contribute to the world’s library of visual arts with their work. The characteristics of their responsibility to society are to uphold their word, to support their works, to be aware of what is happening around them and not to get lost in illusions.
Life as an artist in Athens, and life as an artist in NY: It’s many an artist’s dream to be in NY!
One dream after another. Starting with the life of the artist in Athens, what characterizes it is the evolution that exists in art events and an upward trend around the global image of works of art. On the other hand, the artist who lives in New York is confronted with the raw reality of a city that gives birth to events on every side of it, creating antibodies for tomorrow. New York as one of the Metropolises of art helps the artist to feel the intellectual pulses and to create the first inner step for the subsequent course of each of us.
I want to thank galleries such as Cheap art, Artzone42 gallery, FokiaNou Art Space, Little Arcadia, SVA galleries, SVA Flatiron gallery, :iidrr gallery and new collectors gallery. Also the “felioscollection”, the SVA where I completed my master’s degree, the NEON foundation and the Gerondelis foundation because they played an important role in the development of my work.
Athens School of Fine Arts and the School of Visual Arts in NY: What are their different approaches and philosophies?
The School of Fine Arts in Athens and the School of Visual Arts in New York do not follow different approaches because they are schools that are driven by creation. What is different is the stages of knowledge. On the one hand, the Athens school gives its students the tools they will need to realize their imagination, while SVA supports their students with their postgraduate knowledge so that they can take the next steps and get in touch with the global community and museums.
From your graduate work of 2015, through to your current work, there is a focus on the human body, and specific human body parts, especially the human genitalia. From magnifying them and making them into monuments, to multiplying them in the form of elaborate patterns, they become symbols of what lies at the basis of humanity and human progress. Your exploration of this theme is both emotional and expressive. Would you say that you are exploring the link between human procreation and artistic creativity? And how do you see this theme evolving in your work in the future?
The development of each subject I deal with comes out through my experiences and time spent. The younger I was, the more lost I was to the messages my body was sending. On the other hand, the aspects of the body and the genitals that I dealt with have to do purely with the connection of physical touch, and eroticism. From 2020 onwards my work explores the relationship between geometry and symbolism. The union of the two is also done through the use of parts of the human body. Even as a teenager, I was fascinated by the human figure because I perceived it as the first moving image of geometry.
What are you working on at the moment? Any upcoming exhibitions?
I am currently working on three new sculptures, plus drawings and installations. At the same time, I’m collaborating with some artistic groups and help various visual artists. The two upcoming exhibitions are the following: ‘100 years since the birth of modern Greece’ which will take place at the Technopolis of the Municipality of Athens in the first week of April. The second ‘404 error’ at :iidrr gallery in Manhattan, New York at the end of April.
How would you describe your life, if it were an artwork?
My life is characterized by balance, energy, detection and exploration. So if I start drawing the meanings of the above words on a piece of paper the end result will resemble a kite which is lost in the clouds and travels over the sea with its wet string as a counterweight. Lines, bodies, one line drawings, imprints, erasures, cuts, names and situations, pencils glued, plastic crumpled skins and many other materials on top of each other. A body that wakes up two-dimensional and at the end of the day rests, now multi-dimensional.
Kostas Lales was born in 1990 in Athens. He studied at the National Theatre of Greece (1998-2003), the Athens School of Fine Arts (BFA in Painting, 2010-2015), and at New York’s School of Visual Arts (MFA, 2018-2022). In 2015 he realized his first solo show at Cheapart Gallery, entitled ‘The Body in the Physical and Conceptual Space’, curated by Emilia Bouriti, and has participated in many festivals, art fairs and group shows.
Participation in festivals and art fairs: Back to Athens 8 / Sense In2uition / Curated by : Georg Georgakopoulos (2021); Back to Athens 7 / PostAthens / Curated by Fotini Kapiri (2020); Art Athina / In the Name. / Apollonos 25 – Curated by : Georg Georgakopoulos (2020); Back to Athens 4 / MAYA (2016); 7th Biennial of Students Schools of Fine Arts, Foundation Theocharakis. (2014); Video Art Festival Miden, Kalamata, Greece (2013); Athens Video Art Festival, Athens, Greece (2008);
Scholarships: Special Presidential Grant, School of Visual Arts (2018); MFA in Visual Arts Grant, ASFA (2021); Graduate Degree Scholarship, Neon Foundation (2021); Gerondelis Foundation (2022);
Website : http://www.laleskostas.com
Instagram / FB : @kostaslales_official / Kostas Lales
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : +1 516 3951450
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