INTERVIEW WITH ALEXIS KANENAS

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Tell us some things about yourself.

I am a visual artist/musician from Athens, Greece, currently based in Berlin, but also travelling. The focus of my visual work is primarily on drawing and painting, but I view my work in a more holistic way, in which my music, writing and drawing are in constant conversation, linked through experience to create a larger meaning.

 

Labirynth

 

How do you perceive what you do? What does it mean to you?

I view my work as a sort of meditative process, a way of expressing abstract concepts and emotions that I am unable to channel in any other way, thus making it a necessity and a personal cleansing. In some way what I create is a reflection of my perception of the world, inner and outer, and aids me to understand my own existence and development. It is easier for me to observe in a more objective way something I have created, once it takes on a life of its own and is removed from my own subject.

 

Artefact Balance

 

When painting or drawing, do you work around specific themes or ideas? Or do you just start and let it take you wherever it does?

I usually tend not to have themes or ideas as a starting point, but rather let those manifest as the process takes place. I like to work in an instinctive and intuitive way so as to have the most unpredictable, direct and ‘honest’ possible outcome. Naturally, this method often produces repetitive motifs and symbols, emerging from my personal mythology and understanding of the world around me and inside me. A drawing or painting will usually start in a spontaneous way, with some basic line or shape, which then begins to take form as I visualize potential figures emerging and follow up on their materialization. I often start to see a bigger image at some point in the process, which will sometimes dictate the direction I continue in. Other times I break from the preconceptions that occur and construct a story in the moment I draw each mark.

If you do work around specific themes what are those?

I view meaning as something constructed and innately personal, therefore perpetually shifting along with my own growth. Themes that I have been concerned with in recent years vary widely, but are typically philosophical in nature. I am particularly interested in existential questions, some examples of which include paradoxes, the limits of subjective sensory perception in relation to an objective reality, repetition of power structures and relationships in micro and macro scales, and cosmic cycles.

 

Schism

 

A lot of your work has a dark/mystical character to it. What are you trying to communicate through the said character, if anything?

As I previously stated my work is a tool for me to better comprehend my internal processes. I believe the dark or mystical character you mention is a reflection of inner conflicts, such as the one of a logical understanding versus an abstract, emotional one. This also translates as a dichotomy between the material, animal self, desiring control and free will, and a conscious awareness of the unknown/ unknowable, which makes us powerless in the grand scale of things. Visually and aesthetically the character of my work is likely influenced as a result of my interest in religion, philosophy and obscure art (e.g. cave paintings, ceremonial and tribal art, Art Brut).

What kind of materials do you prefer to use?

In the past I have used a wide range of materials, such as oil paint, oil pastels, charcoal, pens/ markers, wire, paper, canvas and wood. Often my material of choice is determined by my living situation at the time, though I have an affinity for working with line so I tend to work a lot with media that allows precise mark making.

 

 

What are you working on currently?

For the last year I have been moving around quite a bit and focused more on my music and writing, so my visual work has been limited mostly to black pen drawings in my sketchbook, though I have come to view these as resolved works and not preparatory.

What are you aspiring to “achieve” in the near future? 

My aspirations at the moment consist simply of being more immersed in my work, not only meaning my creative output, but also my actions and being (as I view my existence as my art and not only my product).

 

Impossibility of Presence

 

How do you find the intricate, presumably long process of drawing hundreds (or more) lines to create a drawing?

This process has been my primary method of working in the last two years, and has shifted numerous times in this period. After I completed my first very large drawing using this technique I decided not to continue in that scale, as I got tired and lost interest. While it is a time-consuming and meditative process as mentioned earlier, I do also often get impatient, so I tend to leave a lot of work unfinished for a while, and make some very fast drawings to sort of rejuvenate my mark making. It is particularly interesting for me to return to a drawing after a period of time only to discover that my lines are entirely different and actually I cannot complete the work in the manner in which I began.

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