Α dystopian, yet exhilarating, imaginary futuristic landscape

Aris Katsilakis

Shaping the Clay

Text: Evi Kallini || Photographs: Aris Katsilakis Αrchive
Aris Katsilakis in his atelier.

A visual artist and Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the School of Visual and Applied Arts, at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Aris Katsilakis is gearing up for his new exhibition title “Findings”, which will be hosted at the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, starting from early July. An aficionado of ceramics and sculptural forms, the artist draws inspiration from the natural habitat, which he considers an endless source of ideas, while the analysis, as well the research, of nature’s shapes fascinate him.

His nexus with this subject area is due, to a great extent, to his interpretation of nature’s shapes through a different prism, that dates back to his childhood years. His father was a visual artist and graduate from the School of Art and Design of Cluj-Napoca, in Romania, and a fatherly legacy of a handful of ceramic works unconsciously carved a similar aesthetic approach, defining his philosophy as to visual art.

Aris Katsilakis stood out in the 7th Thessaloniki biennale of Contemporary Art, which was concluded in February 2020. His two installations, curated by Panagis Koutsokostas, were hosted at MOMus Museum of Contemporary Art, in Thessaloniki, and MOMus Museum Alex Mylona, in Athens, respectively. The former was composed of twenty ceramic capsules placed on top of white wooden boxes – podiums, while the later was comprised of a smaller number of works.

Both these exhibitions shared the title “Findings”, as these two pillars of Katsilakis’ work, the one that took part in the Biennale, as well as the new works soon to be hosted at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, are engaged in a discourse over the content of the artist’s conceptual quest. Moreover, both of them use clay as their means of expression. “Clay, provided that it hasn’t been processed, as a raw, pure and primordial matter, as a natural material, is a carrier – through multiple manifestations – of human history over thousands of years.

His new works, imaginary gas masks, plague masks and diving bells, denoting the ghastliness of nature’s teratogenesis laboratory, team up with Biennale’s white, biomorphic ceramic capsules. In his new works, wood, a structural element of connection and support of sculptural forms, makes its debut, joining forces with our old acquaintance, clay.

In Aris Katsilakis’ works, future has a dystopian tone, caught up between imagination and reality, between nightmare and threat. In our days, under the heavy shadow cast by the coronavirus pandemic, his art seems seem more relevant than ever, as it triggers a dialogue on nature and the future of both the planet and mankind.