Producing art within the realm of abstract painting, Stelios Karamanolis’ creative practice embraces seemingly adventitious components, such as raw canvases, pastel colours, muted ground, geometric structure and figurative compositions. Wavering between positive and negative space, the artist strives to juxtapose elements of sophisticated and symbolic information with parts on canvases’ surface that are still available to use and at times left empty. Karamanolis’ subjects are executed in serenity, while his palette is eclectic; incorporating remarkably monochromatic sandy-coloured surfaces covered by earthy tones. Although his compositions reflect an ambivalent narrative, Karamanolis’ subjects obtain a considerable quality of lightness enabling the viewer to comfortably feel engaged with his abstract configurations.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Considering his recent body of work, the resulting images render each composition with a generous architectural value. His very recent series of work showcase subject matters that also flirt with concepts of surrealism and minimalism. He is developing ostensibly inexpressive biomorphic forms yet not impassive. An array of shapes with polyvalent interpretations and beastly figures resembling animals construct his beautifully codified imagery. Karamanolis composes a schematic pattern of contrasting figures and silhouettes that convey a significant reductive style. They are carefully arranged as free-flowing, yet they can be visualised as placed in beautifully orchestrated positions. This iconography is converted to abstract signs that allow the artist to build an archetypology of shapes whose meanings vary according to the surrounding context. On one hand, Karamanolis’ images function within a creative obscurity and, on the other hand, his approach encompasses manifold ways of comprehension, providing solid alternatives with an untroubled and refined cohereness. Close to the airy abstraction and softer surreal qualities of Joan Miro and the mysterious symbolisms of Wassily Kandinsky, the artist’s intellectual tracery on canvas explores new innovative directions in the contemporary art.
Most of his new work presents a group of various compositions on the same canvas. However in some other untitled paintings –as seen below- one large depiction dominates the surface along with more dynamic hues, shades and lines. Larger-scale formations with multiple angles or unequal sides might be reminiscent of animals, building, human beings or even metaphoric emotional states which all are engagingly interconnected. Karamanolis’ pictorial vocabulary beholds a visionary potential and resists becoming complete vague or non-objective. Anonymity next to his painted perplexity confronts a clear visualisation that may attempt to underline a spiritual or subconscious dimension on his art aiming to explore potencies of simplicity and clarity. Therefore his pictorial space is mindfully captured; rather than just developing pure abstraction, the artist seems to dismantle conventional depictions of representation also ensuring that his painting eventually reveals a considerable degree of abstraction.
Born in Athens, Stelios Karamanolis (b. 1977) lives and works in Berlin and Athens. He graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts in Greece and the Hildesheim University in Germany. The artist’s work has been exhibited in galleries in Greece, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Japan.
Art Verge: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Stelios Karamanolis: Fast, tireless, quiet.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
SK: I don’t have any particular inspiration from artists. Now and then I find some stuff but nothing specific.
AV: Creating a new painting can be a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
SK: I concentrate more during the night; 23 pm to 5 am and boom I have a painting.
AV: How do you know when painting/artwork is finished?
SK: Some works need more time some others need less. When a work is finished I just know.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, how does it affect your process and where is it now based?
SK: I work at home. And that definitely affects the process. The fact that I cannot use a variety of materials (toxic, smelly, dirty) has a big effect. Somehow this restriction makes me feel freer. The studio is based in Berlin but occasionally I work in Athens.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
SK: This is something that I cannot decide about.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
SK: My mom thinks that I am Rembrandt.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
SK: A night wolf.
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
SK: Half full of course.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
SK: I will keep you updated.
© All images are courtesy of Stelios Karamanolis