A visual artist from Greece who constructs perforated installations and portable art out of paper.
A School of Visual and Applied Arts graduate of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), Stratis Tavlaridis creates perforated artwork by hand out of thin Asian paper using paper-cutting techniques. With surgical precision, he puts his scalpel to use to produce ethereal works small and large, including large-scale installations that fill up exhibition spaces.
Born in the 1990s in Nea Malgara, a village outside Thessaloniki, he discovered his innate talent for painting at an early age – and was lucky enough to have a teacher encourage and cultivate it. As Stratis remembers, “This was my first ‘key.’ It boosted my self-confidence and suddenly gave me an important role within the microcosm of the class.” What followed seemed almost predestined, first taking him to the Technical Lykeion of Graphic Applications and then to AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts, where he advanced his aesthetic criteria and worked on the themes that inspired him the most. It is with great gratitude that he remembers, in these first few years, meeting lauded Greek artist Nikos Alexiou, “a great teacher of the art with immense dedication, consistency, and diligence in his work – values he imparted to me with tremendous generosity, which I observe to this day.”
Although he belongs to the generation whose entrance into the job market was clouded by the financial crisis and capital controls, Stratis Tavlaridis used his unique art style and masterful technique to stand out in a particularly demanding medium – paper cutting. As he says, characteristically, “To be true to your work, you need to be organized, consistent, prepared, disciplined. The economy, the culture, even human values may be in crisis today but I am glad that even in the most difficult periods of my life I have been fortunate enough to turn to art as a way out, as well as therapy.”
Recently, he’s been living and working in Athens. The inspiration for his work is daily life, and the starting point to craft a new piece is always emotion. “It starts with something undefinable that I have inside; something that troubles me. Along the way, as I work with it, I also discover its image. In essence, the works I create document the emotions I have felt,” he explains.
So, why paper? “Paper generously gave me everything I was looking for in order to capture fragility, movement, sensitivity. My motifs focus on questions about the process and methods of how collective memory is formed, as opposed to personal memory. I create hybrid objects that give the appearance of everyday items but have no functionality. In a way, I am trying to turn our gaze to something simple, something that is just there but we no longer notice because of our way of life.”
Repetition is both the main component of perforated paper artwork and what fascinates him in it. “I think that repetition allows you to see new images and hear new sounds. The paper-cutting technique helps my artwork recall images from tradition, thus also functioning as symbols of a new era. I have realized that the long hours of manual effort required to produce each piece bring me very close to my core. I have taught myself to find expression in the creation of repetitive patterns. Over time, working on this idea, I started to paint by removal, creating a brand new world.”