Anastasis Stratakis intertwines graphic design with visual art, under the umbrella of a fully rounded and creative communication process
Making his first steps in graphic design, he came into closer contact and got infatuated with the world of visual arts. Therefore, following the completion of his studies in design, he decided to enroll in the School of Visual and Applied Arts of AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts. As he points out, the common goal shared by the two fields is no other than the communication between the artist and the audience. “As for the most substantial difference between them, it lies in the fact that the visual artist is the one to determine the work’s message, whereas the designer is usually in the service of another artist’s vision. Within the context of a common and fundamentally conceptual approach, I have come to the point where these two qualities of mine complement each other in my work, enriching one another,” he explains.
Over the last years he has been working as a designer, having founded the creative office Kottage, based in Thessaloniki. Kottage is aiming at a holistic approach towards design, taking on projects featuring a wide range of implementations: from identity systems, brand development and corporate communication all the way to the edition-packaging-website designing, as well as the designing and setting up of exhibitions and venues. Anastasis Stratakis takes a keen interest in teaming up with cultural institutions, such as museums, foundations, as well as with individual artists, especially when there’s room for a communication channel between different creative fields. One of the most recent works under Kottage’s belt is the architectural design and the curation of the visual communication on behalf of the exhibitions “Fred Boissonnas and the Mediterranean”, hosted at MOMus – Thessaloniki Photography Museum, and “Arc: A Structure of Care”, showcased within the framework of the 8th Biennale of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki and hosted at the MOMus – Museum of Contemporary Art.
His method as a visual artist is based on research and the production process of the work itself, focusing mainly on the materiality of the expressive media, such as design, photography, video and installations. More specifically, he goes on to explain that he places emphasis on the mechanisms or representation and the reproduction of imagery. “My work is targeted towards the politics of imagery or the forging of national identities, constantly seeking the boundaries between the personal and the political. From a methodological standpoint I often rely on the familiarization and the manipulation of a preexisting archival material, so as to redefine it within an alternative and pseudo-historical context,” he adds.
His working method, whether it is a work of visual art or a design project, remains basically unaltered. “I kick off with a thorough research and analysis, I develop the appropriate methodology and only then do I proceed with carrying out the work. Moreover, I make sure to stick to a common, well-structured and consistent designing sensitivity, while allowing myself a minimum space for experimentation and evolution. The success of each project is measured by how close it got to its intended purpose, in other words how effectively it diffused the idea behind the work. The way I see it, interactive communication is the key; I want the message of each work to take full shape through the audience’s active contribution. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than common propaganda.”
Wrapping up our talk, I ask for his take on the national design scene, which has started to earn international distinctions. “In reality, Greece’s design scene has nothing to envy from the ones abroad. It has gained an impressive ground over the last years, achieving a great deal of extraversion and openness. However, there’s always room for improvement and delving deeper. On a long-term basis, it will gradually forge a more solid collective identity.”
The work of Anastasis Stratakis (born in 1985) has been included in international collective exhibitions, such as: “Statecraft (and Beyond)”, curation: Katerina Gregou, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2022)· “Theorems 2”, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2020)· “Still Here Tomorrow”, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens (2019)· Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris/Berlin (2019/16) · “In the beginning was the Word”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2018)· “Abracadabra”, 6th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, curated by Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti (2018)· “Epilogue”, Kunstverein Herdecke, curated by Apostolos Palavrakis (2017)· “The Equilibrists”, hosted by New Museum, New York, and DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, in collaboration with the Benaki Museum, Athens (2016)· 13th Lyon Biennale (2015)· 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2014)· “Anew: A new generation of Greek artists”, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2013). In addition, he has showcased works in venues such as the MOMus – Experimental Center for the Arts (2017), Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon (2016), Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice (2015) and MOMus Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki (2014).
His works are also included in important collections, among which the ones hosted in the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, as well as the Michael Haas collection, Berlin. In 2018 he was handpicked by ARTWORKS for the 1st Stavros Niarchos Foundation Fellowship Program. Selected residencies/workshops: “Through the Image, Beyond the Image”, curated by Adrian Paci, Free Home University, Lecce (2013–14)· 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Workshop for Young Artists (2013).