Interview: Maro Voulgari
Angelika Vaxevanidou is based in Lefkes keeping her studio in the centre of the village. She is a painter and sculptor endowed with the full range of gifts that art bestows upon its disciples – talent, anguish, concern, constant questioning, constant seeking…
Driven by a romantic impulse, I set my mind on living in Lefkes, Angelika tells us. Previously, I’d decided to become involved in art on an academic level, pursuing the right studies, getting ready for large-scale exhibitions, invitations, challenges… So, I got started with some reserve, as well as with a need to acquire every available tool. Strangely, though, this place, this island, took me down to an altogether different path than the one I’d expected to follow. People started placing orders, which was borderline scary for me at first. You see, I wasn’t done with the loose ends involving my free personal expression. It took me a while to come to terms with it, but I found out I could do it and, on top of that, make progress through it. So, this journey was quite interesting. The limitations set by the orders placed had me work differently and push my limits. Switching from the wide gallery audience to the criteria of a single individual client who commissions an artwork is a strange feeling indeed.
But this has always been the case with art. The entire Renaissance art was based on the practice of commissioning artists.
Exactly! Doing commission work prompted me to get involved in things I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I made paintings of olive trees for a villa in the Dominican Republic, a theme I would have never considered engaging in. Yet, this was an opportunity for me to examine my Greekness, something I hadn’t dealt with until that moment. I work a lot with coloured pencils and watercolours. In those paintings, however, I even used gold leaf –a Byzantine reminder that came up to me spontaneously– approaching the olive tree as a timeless cult object.
How much does the environment impact on an artist’s work?
On a conscious level, Paros has profoundly seeped into my work, especially during the quarantine. Lately, I’ve completed a series of works on solitary, non-touristy Paros, on bareness, loneliness, quietness, on the space between reality and unreality, this playing about with eerie stillness. However, from moment one, when I set foot on the island, Paros brought me in touch with myself and my inner journey.
What are the ingredients that make a great artist? What do you think of celebrity artists?
Some artists become great because they are exceptional talents, others because they dedicated themselves to working hard. But a good result is usually a combination of inclination and will. We need both celebrity artists and the truly creative artists. The former open up a market. The latter take art one step further every time. It’s a game that has its roots in the structure of society and, for sure, art is also part of it. Art can be used as a social status tool, but this has been and will continue to be part and parcel of our world.