“Doubt the obvious and search the under layers. Do that worthy trip even if the truth is hidden in plain sight”
AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?
DK: We are from Larisssa city in Greece. It’s a quite interesting place, around the city’s acropolis you can find a 4000 years old history laying around the hill. A Roman agora, the second largest ancient theater in Greece , Ottoman ruins, the Jewsish community, and on it top an Orthodox Cathedral. It makes the life in the city more interesting and productive. At a very young age my brother used to sketch comics and I used to color them. I think this is the very first moment I started painting, but also the first informal collaboration with Marjano.
MK : We have vlach origin, or as you call us in Italy “Valacchi or Armani”. No much to say about it except that it is a close to extinction tribe. I don’t have a specific answer to why I engaged to art since it’s a natural activity I have from my early years. Surely the many painters we had in the family had their own influence and impact in our life.
AT: When did it become serious?
DK: Since I was a boy I realized consciously that art was my field but around when I was 15 it became serious when I decided to practice and dedicate myself to it exclusively becoming my priority.
MK: I think around the age of 10-12 years old when you start having the first sense of seriousness in a way. I mean I abandoned all the activities of a 12 years old kid such as sports, gaming etc to focus in art by exploring the curiosity I had for it.
AT: Are there any person that have been significant in your progression as an artist?
DK: I know he doesn’t like exposure but it would be unfair to not mention Stavros Kavalaris. All needs a right hand, I got two, my brother and Stavros. Mrs. Zina Athanasiadou is present in all our artistic moments, both good and hard .She was the first to scout us and she taught us the very first elements of the art field . She is the one that gave a chance to our collaboration in both commercial and professional level .She owns a very special place in our hearts.
MK: Costas Tsolis, our art school teacher he was and still he is a great friend that helped me to understand the art out of the “art school box” and his quote “if there is no reason to do something don’t do it, always have something to say” this is something I always keep in mind whenever I start anything new. Maria Papadimitriou put the fundamental idea of the collaboration between us. She was also there in our first solo as duo when she presented the show . She is one of the very few in the field helping young artists and she deserves all the kudos.Also Francesco Annarumma is a person I must mention. He is a good friend, one of those with ver cut and clean view.
AT: What’s your first approach to the work? Could you describe your practice?
DK: The production it’s a family secret (laughs).
MK: In pre-production level usually when we have a clear idea we start with some quick doodles. Next step is taking photos of what may be the subject of interest and start making digital collages. The hard part is choosing the dimensions and the scale of the artwork as well the medium and the materials that suits better for the execution. It’s a long debate before we make the call. For us isn’t something that happens in fast tempo , every project it is a promise to the viewers therefore we take a long time to fully develop a project. It’s all about patience, patience and faith.
The Volcano Lover (2017)
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
DK: The commercial quality it’s not enough , you have to understand how a material it’s been created so you can get the 100% from it. The colors are those that will give the image of what I feel so give my feel respect on them therefore I have obsession with the preparation of the surface and every artwork needs it’s own.
MK: I search a lot for raw materials and found objects, I think it’s the most interesting part for me. I collect almost everything ,you don’t know what an assemblage or a sculpture may need. Call it a scavenging.
AT: Do you leave your work open to interpretation? Or do you think the viewer should engage with your work in a specific way?
DK & MK: We try to increase the observation of the viewers by presenting our work in a non mainstream way . You know especially painting tend to have an arrogance that the viewer is obligated to observe and watch it. We use to invite once in a while friends and people in our studio during a production of a project to see how it works with the public , how much things they notice and understand and if the artworks gives food for thought, like mini private shows before the main show. We don’t give a manual for our projects, everybody is open to “read” every artwork on the way their experiences drives them. Everyone has it’s own conclusions and that’s the goal of the delivery. Of course there’s our own truth behind the artworks but you have to open a dialogue with the public ,how you will have a dialogue if everyone in the room agree in the same thing?! How you will be open mind if I’m not allowing you alternatives and giving you choices ?! Doubt the obvious and search the under layers . Do that worthy trip even if the truth is hidden in plain sight.
AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?
DK: I think like something whispers in me that can’t be explained even that I can’t deny that I have an image of the final artwork how it may be looks like.cI find it hard to remember whole steps of the creation of an artwork, quite weird because I live the whole process in full commitment.
MK: Personally I have a slow pace therefore I work 40-20 (40 minutes working 20 watching). Artwork itself need it too since we work in multi layering.
AT: How do you understand when a work is finished?
DK: I always have a feeling for an artwork and I will not stop till the artwork will give it to me. It may takes a week or 5 months but I will not stop working for that feeling.
MK: Well, we don’t usually make pieces out of a specific project. Every piece is a part of a bigger story and we focus on the forest not in the tree . If the artwork can stand by its own without having the need/support of the story then its finished. You have to plant some trees to have a forest isn’t it so?! And as a conclusion the feeling itself tells you it’s ready.
Pomegranate eyes (Occhi di melograno) , 2018, 36cm x 31cm , oil on wood, mirror, aluminium
Adam (North by Northwest), 2018, oil and mirror on panel, 20 9/10 × 15 7/10 in 53 × 40 cm.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from? Do you find inspiration outside or it’s all inside you?
DK: Everything it’s experience, the people’s acts we receive and observe, whatever we see and listen to, inspiration has to do with the experience because experience gives the knowledge that generates inspiration.
MK: Mostly from anything if this sounds realistic. I listen a lot of podcasts and music films so probably somewhere there is hidden the first flame of the inspiration. We talk a lot with Denis, he or I maybe heard or saw something interesting during the day and we talk about it, and somewhere the inspiration becomes an idea and the idea a project.
AT: Do you think art can be learned or it is something innate?
DK & MK: If talent, afflatus and conception can be learned then art can be learned.
AT: There are any artists who influenced your works? Why?
DK: Dominikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Polke, Brancusi, Hitchcock and Edwin Dickinson. Edwin Dickinson is the most underrated artist I have seen. I think he was ahead of his time more that his biography says. He was very harsh with critics and denied all the labels and terms ,he has no retrospectives not included in mainstream museums nothing to highlight his mastery ,maybe that was the price to pay.
MK: Yes there are few of them. Kabakov, Zurbaran, R.B. Kitaj, Sasseta, Kounelis, Arturo Martini, Jodorowsky, Tod MacFarlane. I will not analyze the painters since we all know them well but I would like to stand a bit and talk about Ozu. Ozu yasujiro is everywhere in the fine arts beside cinema. His pillow shot technique can be found in the most modern and contemporary paintings . this doesn’t mean that every painter has straight references to Ozu ,means that Ozu has influenced so much the art world and all medias, the way we see and frame our focus that most of us we take it for granted and naturally without knowing that this comes from Ozu. Your selfies are Ozu, your view from your car is Ozu.
AT: How important is for you the role of social media?
DK: Social media in general are not that good how they want to look like, however IG it’s a great tool for the first steps of an artist. I’m positive if it’s has a reasonable use .
MK: I use only IG and Tumblr , it’s an interesting place. You can easily connect with other artists share some opinions etcetera. I think it’s a good tool for galleries to spot rookies, whatever helps in the cultural sharing I’m pro.
Three Graces and Virbio , 2018 , 73cm x 62cm, oil on canvas mounted on wood (glass framed)
Scorpion of Pearl Bay , 2018, 70cm x 50cm , oil on canvas
AT: What’s your opinion about the contemporary art system nowadays from your point of view as an artist?
DK & MK: There are few issues in the system. Art fairs we think make lives harder for both galleries and artists in the way the art ecosystem factions. I see new alternatives are coming in this field and its positive. Another thing we find pretty weird -and weird it’s a polite word- it’s that contemporary art system is trying to make celebrity artists. You know what we mean right?! Maybe because we have grown up with different images of artists . We cant all be Dali and Warhol. As for the core of contemporary art ,the art itself, we think we are already in the post contemporary era, new things have already came and the new generations of artists, gallerists, institutions and collectors are trying to build a new period and we are humble positive for the future.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
DK: There is always a doubt surrounding the artist. Personally I try to avoid repeating myself even if repeating gives you comforts, receiving all that support and faith it is the most true ,secure and permanent element you can invest.
MK: Every new case/concept it’s a big challenge, you have to tell something new even if you talk about for already known stories. Can you recite a familiar poem and make me feel like I’m listening it for the very first time? As for the reward I think it’s the collection of experiences. You meet very interesting people and some of them becomes friends, it’s a meaningful reward.
AT: What do you do outside of art?
DK: Just an ordinary life, reading the Bible, having some good time, keeping the garden green.
MK: Quite frankly theres no much time outside of art so I waste it wisely, I try helping and being useful around, it’s good you know, gives you a good reason to sleep calmly and well.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
DK: I have an interest of exhibiting in alternative spaces such as temples, villas, ancient sites etc . And the reason is that the ambient and the atmosphere of non mainstream spaces gives you the opportunity to work and develop in non traditional ways. This how you link the past with the future. As a general conclusion a clear and realistic goal is developing as an artist both theoretically and practically.
MK: There are plenty of concepts in the archives that I want to accomplish but everything in the right time and place .