|This acclaimed Thessalonian potter brought contemporary aesthetics into our daily lives, elevating ceramic art by embracing organic, unpretentious forms in his unique creations|
Giorgos Vavatsis came across ceramics in 1996 in Cheltenham, UK, where he was studying painting and drawing. For his second semester in Fine Art, he happened to choose a ceramics workshop as an elective. It was his first contact with the potter’s wheel, which exercised upon him a newfound attraction. As he puts it, “In this medium I found all the characteristics that define the concept of artistic creation for me. A goal, scholarship, rigid training, inviolable rules but, more than anything, an unexplained and incredibly intense sense of honesty. I could give you a single word: truth. From that moment onwards, my career in ceramics started in earnest.”
The fact that he knew nothing about ceramic art up to that point and that he did not carry with him any knowledge of Greek ceramic heritage was key in how he approached learning this art as well as how he views it today. With his knowledge of the medium being a blank canvas, Giorgos Vavatsis absorbed and adopted every aspect of the western approach to ceramics, which gave him a strong background and the ability to combine disparate concepts to build a unique aesthetic. This became immediately obvious when he returned to Thessaloniki and opened his workshop in the city center.
What does he love in ceramics? As he notes, “In ceramics, I loved and continue to love the complexity and the countless different directions you can go down whenever you want to complete a piece. This quality is still inside me and it’s the reason why my work does not just come in one style but several diverse styles. My goal is to remain a ‘student’ and this is why I always try to adopt different technical characteristics to create my body of work, which is based on two different principles: the wheel and functionality. I aim for my work to adopt austere forms that always carry features of advanced technical knowledge.”
In his 20-year course in the field, people he collaborated with and came very close to, very hard work, as well as an element of luck all played an important part. “Several times, there were collaborations I couldn’t tell where they could lead to, which built milestone relationships that I had – and continue to have – the ability to turn to, so they are essential. So, ceramics, which initially appeared to be a particularly lonely artistic endeavor, grew into a fully-fledged collective experience.” And, as he characteristically notes, “This teamwork adds particular intensity and spirituality to my everyday exchanges with ceramic art and gives me the opportunity to dream of common goals and visualize utopian settings and a future that has much to offer.”
Giorgos Vavatsis was born in Thessaloniki in 1974. From 1995 to 1998, he studied Visual & Live Art with History, Ceramic Arts and Ceramics at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, England. Since 2000, he lives and works in Thessaloniki. His body of work comprise functional and decorative high-temperature ceramics. In the last decade, he has held five solo exhibitions in Greece as well as taken part in several group exhibitions, symposiums and projects both in Greece and abroad. His recent collaborations include crafting a series of collectible functional ceramic objects inspired by the life and work of Russian Avant-Garde artist Ivan Kliun, for an exhibition titled “Ivan Kliun. Transcendental landscapes. Flying sculptures. Light spheres” hosted at MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Kostakis Collection in Thessaloniki. He also teaches ceramics in municipal workshops across northern Greece and in themed seminars at important Thessaloniki museums. He is the founder of Hakah Ceramics Design Production, which designs and produces ceramic objects.