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How They See - Issue #27: Ioannis Lassithiotakis on modern art and colour


How They See

January 16 · Issue #27 · View online

How They See will allow you to meet artists from all over the globe and understand their perception of art.

Published irregularly.

This week I would like to introduce you to Ioannis Lassithiotakis, abstract artist from Greece. He uses limited visual elements to convey a deeper message. 
Minimalist, geometrical art could look “easy” at first glance. Not so long ago, I had a conversation with the most renown polish poster designer, Andrzej Pągowski, about his approach to a similar topic. He has been once commented by various people: “But I also can do it!”. “But you didn’t do it” - he replied.
In a fact, this type of art is more complex than it seems. What message would you like to convey using only colours and shapes? Or Symbols? All those things have their meaning. Just colour itself is a very powerful tool evoking emotions or ideologies. 

You studied painting at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. The city is inseparably connected with Florence school and artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Brunelleschi or Michelangelo Buonarroti, just to name a few. How do you recall that time?
You can see the work of the renaissance artists everywhere in Florence. The whole city is a museum. So, my interest in the secrets and methods of painting of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance became deeper there. I gained as much knowledge as I could about the philosophy and the techniques.
Now you are a professor yourself, teaching in the field of visual arts at the University of Western Attica. However, didactic work is different from creative work, what do you get from it?
Teaching offers many things such as constant communication, but it is something different from the work in my studio which has to do with a personal research and endoscopy.
 Ioannis Lassithiotakis, 30.OPEN YOUR HEART, 2020, EMULSION ON CANVAS, 91,5X70CM
Ioannis Lassithiotakis, 30.OPEN YOUR HEART, 2020, EMULSION ON CANVAS, 91,5X70CM
I have read that your work is influenced by Mark Rothko. However, in my opinion, I would look probably at De Stijl and Mondrian. Where do you place yourself on this spectrum?
You are right, no matter how similar they look, the research is different. These artists showed the way to the future generations. I think the first years of abstraction in my work were influenced by Malevich and Rothko but later the use of the line became more similar to De Stijl. However, the abstraction is evolving now and it is a new language of communication.
What do you find special in the field of colour and geometrical compositions?
The colour is meaningful, has power, emotion, ideology and philosophy and the same applies to the form.
Contemporary art is easy and anyone can do it. Such a statement has appeared a few times during my conversations with artists and sometimes I see such comments on a popular website. How would you comment on that?
When you try to paint or copy something can be easy or difficult, but to create a personal path requires a couple of things, not only to simply paint a surface. After all, everything is created in a painting by using three colours.
I will now ask the professor Ioannis Lassithiotakis. Why is modern art often difficult to perceive or understand?
A small child perceives the world by touching, smelling and lastly by the logic.
So, if you do not approach and try to feel the different things, will not be understood. 
The same happens with contemporary art, you must approach it without any preconception, in order to understand it.
 Ioannis Lassithiotakis, DIVINE LIGHT, 2020, EMULSION ON CANVAS, 160X120CM
Ioannis Lassithiotakis, DIVINE LIGHT, 2020, EMULSION ON CANVAS, 160X120CM
What do you find the most difficult in your process?
The most difficult to me is to organize a presentation of my work and choose the works that will be exhibited.
When do you know, that a painting you work on is finished?
This decision is related to the experience, the intentions of the artist and it is judged differently each time.
Which Greek artists do you consider the most interesting at the moment?
There are many interesting Greek artists and many young ones are good too.
 Ioannis Lassithiotakis, THE LINE OF LIFE, 2020, EMULSION ON WOOD, 91,5X70CM
Ioannis Lassithiotakis, THE LINE OF LIFE, 2020, EMULSION ON WOOD, 91,5X70CM
Can you give some advice to any self-taught artist or designer?
I am not used to giving advice, I would advise them to keep painting, studying all the great painters and reading about the history of art etc.
What is your favourite colour?
I do not have a specific favorite colour, because all the colours are useful and beautiful to me.
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