Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of interviews with artists that will continue indefinitely, without direction, and outside any one person’s control. The artists are asked seven question about their art and their ideas about art. The questions are blunt, but open-ended enough to be answered in any way the artist chooses. The final question is a request for the artist to select the next artist to be interviewed — anyone they wish, well-known or unknown, working in any medium, anywhere; any artist whose work they think highly of, an artist deserving the same public interrogation.
The art of Eftihis Patsourakis is austere and humane, economic in means and layered in reflection. Cigarette ends, thrift shop paintings, Post-it notes (items only a curious nomad, or archeologist from the future, would find important) become the foundational elements of his work. Painter Apostolos Georgiou chose Patsourakis to join this interview series “for his refined and precise work and for the careful development of it.”
“Light notes” (2006) is a vertical shaft of glass panes, pixelated with sticky notes, generating the look of coded computations or minimalist forms of painting. The raw material itself, though — those paper squares central to the religion of personal efficiency — could not be more forgettable. The work is severe and reverent, something from an unbuilt church the too diligent among us might still attend. Insignificant too are the earnest and mediocre seascapes Patsourakis has found, painted by four different people it seems, and brought together along a common horizon. In this odd quartet, each work finds its own completion.
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Rob Colvin: Why did you become an artist?
Eftihis Patsourakis: Our ignorance is our greatest virtue.
RC: How would you describe your development and what you’re doing now?
EP: Essential features in my work for the past years have been the found material, as well as collections of simple occurrences, commonplace everyday series of actions, and routine activities by ordinary people, where small diversions take place. Items bearing gestures of individuals affected, one way or the other, by power (usually without realizing it) have become starting points in my work. Concepts such as trace, identity, time, friction, catharsis, and mistake are also central and significant to me. In the last set of works consisting of paintings my starting point is found photographs taken with pocket cameras mainly in the 70s. The individuals in the photos are by accident depicted headless. This momentary clumsiness, this small indication of lack of technical knowhow and aesthetics has drawn my attention. Painting can place things in an unbearable long duration.
RC: Have you been influenced by anyone or anything in particular?
- I am mostly inspired by ordinary people in uncommon moments. Many of them are portrayed in films by John Cassavetes.
- Peter Bruegel the Elder for his understanding of the human condition is unique. Empathy with quality humor, sentiment and accurate reflection, modest innovation. An eternal reminder.
- The Theater of Peter Brook and Krzystof Warlikowski.
- Recently Pierre Bourdieu once more (I’ve been thinking a lot about Distinction when I started on the “Headless” set).
- Anton Tschechow, always.
- And many poets, some of whom might not be so widely known.
RC: What challenges are unique to your process?
EP: The process of resignifying and activating the insignificant, the minimum, the underestimated.
RC: If you could own any work of art, what would it be?
EP: As soon as we are haunted by a work of art in a way we own it. We carry it within. Its presence becomes an inner silent trace. A fracture in our abyss. Sometimes it’s impossible to look at those works frequently. It’s too much.
But if I must choose one, I would be happy with any work by Douglas Huebler.
RC: So what is art, anyway?
EP: Everything we know about it and something more.
RC: Who should be interviewed next?
EP: Serban Savu. His work is marked by a bitter sense of humor and resourcefulness through which he reactivates a poignant discussion with history and art history.