The artist and his work

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Reviews on the work of Stathis Katsarelis

A few words about tapestry and the work of Stathis Katsarelis

The art of weaving is one of the most ancient arts of human and her precocious appearance is tide to practical reasons. The decorative weaving though, whose samples are both the wall tapis as well as smaller covers which were intended for the decoration of internal spaces, has different starting lines and different destination. What characterizes the art of tapestry is her close relation to the art of painting. The most representative themes and subjects that were largely used in the art of tapestry have a monumental character and an obvious relation with those of painting of the same period. Besides the decorative tapestry in her monumental form, which has direct relation with the direction of the "official" art and the tastes of specific social classes, popular weaving blossomed in many European countries, and most particularly in those of the Balkan Peninsula and the Mediterranean area. In Greece popular weaving is marked by an impressive and characteristic variety of colors and patterns. Recollections from ancient Greece and the Byzantium as well as influences from the East and the West are crossed in the repertory of worthy anonymous representatives of this art, using most frequently natural and decorative patterns and more rarely forms such as birds or riders.

In these last decades, at the same time with some efforts of continuation of the traditional popular weaving and some arguable revivals and attempts of "modernization" under the influence of tourism, exist also artists that practice the art of tapestry within the spirit of the modern artistic pursuits. The work of Stathis Katsarelis belongs to this perspective.

Having studied the history of European tapestry as well as are own rich tradition of popular weaving, he chooses elements that express in the most suitable way the spirit of his artistic searches, without obvious influences. He works with the classical tapestry technique of the vertical loom, while inventing his own techniques, followed by his brave interventions to the treatment of natural dying. This process is based on the utilization of the potentials of natural colors which he has had the chance to meet in his long, restless walkabouts in the known and unknown corners of our country. Without retreating to pretentious solutions, he creates attractive images from the Greek nature with a very personal style. It is actually an attractive painting with threads, where the variety of the chromatic scale does not exclude the presence of some geometrical elements that surprise with their chromatic austerity and their formal severity. Traveling gave the spark for the creation of one appreciable artistic path. Reality coexists harmoniously here with the fictional. The reformation of reality is done with knowledge and talent, while advancing decisively to the conquest of a personal style. The sense of balance keeps away the danger of a resort to an easy folkloric without excluding the use of the figurative character of the compositions. The artist achieves thus to go together with the new-fangled pursuits, claiming his own space, without adopting solutions only to prove that he goes along with the spirit of the time.

Aggela Tambaki, Commissary of the National Art Gallery


Art from Nature
By Athina Sxina, Art Critic and Historian

To Stathis Katsarelis, before the approach of his figurative work, that he produces consequently and methodically, while penetrating the surface, we have to attribute the role of a tracer. It is not only his numerous works that are patiently and devotionally, created. In the figural result of each work which he realizes, he manages to incorporate, without displaying, all the procedural stages that precede and represent him as an undivided language of forming the composition.

The procedure starts for the artist with a series of walks in nature, all the seasons and in different regions. In these walks he collects leaves, flowers, fruits, branches and barks of trees, branches from bushes, and roots of plants, making his own botanologie. In parallel he chooses the wool, the silk, the linen etc. Afterwards, he experiments with a large scale of dyes, handling with ease combinations and particularities that are exported from his various experimentations. After the stabilization of his colors, he starts the weaving; some times using drawing that he has prepared and other times directly, handling the threads upon the abb and the warp of the vertical looms that he has created.

Stathis Katsarelis, is not only a painter who adopts and continues a popular tradition. He is a painter who has exchanged paintbrushes and chemical colors with threads and their natural inalterable nuances, achieving through his weavings, fine chromatic tonalities not altered by time or light.

His painting canvas is his weaving and its numerous varieties and combinations. He works according to the vertical and horizontal dimension, without being bind to the constructive hierarchy, which we could rather say liberates him expressively, as it gives him the opportunity to simultaneously follow and distance himself from models. He draws all the elements that are essential for his work both from popular tradition as well as the European painting, weaving and miniature art, which renewed and incorporated are newly combined, figuring his own personal artistic language.

Mountains, seas, dawns and sunsets meet in the compositions of Stathis Katsarelis cities by the sea, birds walking around in areas cultivated by dreams, while creating itineraries of clouds in his own fairy tale land. It is there where his flowers suddenly blossom, his cities pop out, branches and leaves grow, among few human figures that appear as personae of a small drama, from which grow hopes and desires, dips in the collective subconscious which is constantly transformed from the successive impressions which are caused by the stimuli of life.

Athina Sxina, Critic and Historian of Art.