Greece is abuzz with amazing photography talent. PhotoArtMag has showcased many photographers from Greece who produce very refined and original work. Alexis Vasilikos is an artist and photographer based at Athens, Greece. He has been widely covered by print and online publications and has taken part in exhibitions in many global cities. He also co-edits an online photography magazine ‘Phases’ with Jerome Montagne. Phases focuses on contemporary photography and it’s very thoughtfully curated by these two master photographers.
Alexis (born 1977) has been taking fantastic images for over two decades and his images have a distinct charm with a minimal and meditative approach. They bring out the intricacy and triviality of life in a very fine manner. He looks for the extraordinary elements, finds them in in most unexpected of locations, and shoots them with an indomitable spirit. It’s the very cool blue and milky brightness of his images that draw viewers’ attention and a more careful look reveals that his images are made up of visual elements reflecting life going on and on. Very straightforward and to-the-point, Alexis answers our simple questions that are showcased with his choicest images:
I was born in Athens and this is where I live. I studied photography in a couple of schools here in Athens (Focus and A.k.t.o) and for a brief period I studied art history in Bologna. I don’t have a job right now and I live in a very simple way, a little bit like a monk. Recently I became interested in building a hut in the forest, so I started to see a lot of tiny house architecture and design solutions. From time to time I like to travel but mostly I like to disappear in the formless, this is the greatest gift of photography to me.
I’m making pictures for the last 20 years, it started when I was in high school and somehow I still enjoy doing it on a daily basis but who said I’m taking it seriously? There is a kind of heaviness when you say that you take something seriously because basically it means that you take yourself seriously and when you take yourself seriously you end up creating lots of trouble for yourself and for those around you. I like to keep it simple and light, I don’t want to fill it with identity. I think that to a large extent the notion of art as work and work as hardship rather than play is because of this projection of identity in an activity. My experience is that there is no need for that, on the contrary when we don’t put our identity in what happens , what happens appears to be magical and mostly my photography arises from this magicality of being, effortlessly.
In its highest aspect photography is a form of yoga, perhaps we can call it the yoga of seeing, through which one becomes aware of the fundamental unity of the observer and the observed, in its daily unfolding it is a kind of play, a joyful exploration.
Can you define the key area of your photography?
My photography reflects my life as it unfolds spontaneously and as I don’t compartmentalize life, in the same way I don’t really separate between genres of imagery. I tend to perceive photographs at an energetic level rather than conceptually and I like to mix different kind of images when I edit, unexpected dynamics arise out of this perpetual mixing and remixing. Generally speaking I suppose that my photographs are closer to what is called fine art photography but maybe unconsciously I’m into wedding photography. (laughs)
Now I’m using a Fujifilm X-E1 which comes with a 18-55 mm zoom. Most of the times I have it on aperture priority. I like this camera because it’s light and I can have it always with me. Before this one I had a professional DSLR but it was too heavy to carry.
Tell us about your achievements in photography:
I don’t see myself as an “achiever”, it’s kind of OK anyway it goes, in moments of clarity it is seen that there is only what is and it is not an achievement, it simply is. My feeling is that as human beings all we need to understand is who we are and the rest is set right as a result of this understanding. The reason why I say this is because the very idea of being a some-body in life trying to achieve some-thing even though it has its place at a certain stage of our growth, it is not our true position, it is a mistaken identity .
Your photography is very beautiful aesthetically and it’s rather fun looking at those superb images. Can you tell us about the story or core idea behind your works? What is your method into photo taking? Also share your views on your own style of photography:
Thank you for your kind words, I’m very happy you enjoy them. I’m not interested in the story behind the photos, (the story actually is never behind the photos or in the photos, the story is in the mind of the perceiver) I’m more interested in the opposite direction of experiencing and understanding, what I call the non–conceptual seeing or non-conceptual perceiving. For some mysterious reasons not very often we can hear that there is this possibility, you have to go to some monastery or a spiritual teacher to hear that the natural way of perceiving is non-conceptual and that we can perceive directly, without interpreting, which means without entering into a subject-object relation. In this sense my practice is closer to the practice of meditation.
I don’t know and I don’t feel any real pull towards defining my expression, others can do it if they feel compelled to do it. All I can say is that nothing defines what is and what is definable is not the real. The photographs simply happen, like everything else in life. I don’t manage anything and I’m so grateful for this!
What are your views on contemporary photography?
For the last two years I am co-editing Phases photography magazine with Jerome Montagne where one can see our view on contemporary photography. As a result of this activity I review many bodies of work daily and I come across fresh works quite often.
Many of the pictures I’ve made come from the same route which is a distance of approximately 5km that I walk daily for the last 10 years. It’s a walk from where I live, a place in the Northern suburbs of Athens called Nea Erithrea until Kifissia and backwards. I don’t feel that there is something special about this route nor am I looking for special conditions. My attitude is this: wherever you are this is the best place to be because life has put you there and in the same way I don’t think that there is a best time to shoot images whenever you feel it this is the best time to do it.
A couple of things I’m working on right now: a trip to India for this winter and my first book of photographs that we would like to publish as “Phases editions”.
Ambitions? I ‘m too lazy to be ambitious but recently I started to feel that it would be good if I had a little bit of money each month… we’ll see if life agrees 🙂
A few of my favorite photographers are: Jessica Backhaus, Peter Fraser, Rinko Kawauchi, Raymond Meeks.
“Occasionally photographers discover tears in their eyes for the joy of seeing. I think it is because they’ve known a miracle. They’ve been given what they did not earn, and as is the way with unexpected gifts, the surprise carries an emotional blessing. When photographers get beyond copying the achievements of others, or just repeating their own accidental first successes, they learn that they do not know where in the world they will find pictures. Nobody does. Each photograph that works is a revelation to its supposed creator.” – Robert Adams
Say something to our readers:
This is a quote from Wei Wu Wei that I love :
What do you have to do?
Pack your bags,
Go to the station without them,
Catch the train,
And leave yourself behind.
All photos © Alexis Vasilikos links: Website