“The artist is a sensitive instrument for forecasting. The clouds of an oncoming storm are already here.”
~ Vangelis Rinas
on’t forget that we are born of the same land as Ulysses, made for travels and adventures,” explains Greek sculptor and painter, Vangelis Rinas. “The artist is born to suffer from incurable romance. No matter how hard reality becomes, he always believes that his work and art may change the world.” And so Rinas takes us on a journey, tantalizing us with what he has faith becomes possible, no matter the situation, how dire, how great the odds, if only we have art on our side. It’s a tale of the great Greek spirit, of romance and adventure. A story we don’t want to quickly put down…
INTERVIEW WITH VANGELIS RINAS, SCULPTOR, PAINTER
Agios Kírykos, Greece ~
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Vangelis, what story are you telling your viewers about what moves you, both as a Greek, and as a man? How are you using your art to convey this?
Vangelis Rinas: Deanna, I would like to answer a bit more on a personal note to you and of course you can use what you feel necessary. I am impressed by your questions as they are very close and touch my thoughts.
Maybe until now I had an obsession with making sculptures or paint and using young women as models. Maybe it is my heritage as a Greek as far as the ideal of beauty is concerned. A young woman, sensitive, even fragile, a fantasy for all men.
Vangelis Rinas: Her relaxed pose, isolated from her surroundings, maybe gave me the role of the spectator, even a voyeur. And sometimes the woman-girl played the role of αn idol in an unreal mirror.
Vangelis Rinas: But a new circle of work, more esoteric, has began for me and it has as object the human and his relation to today, now. I think that human is someone who can see with love his fellow man and understand the mystery and value of life but also to strive for freedom. It may seem strange to us but freedom is not something given. I am referring to people whose luck has held for them a hard fortune and were born under difficult situations.
Vangelis Rinas: I am talking about all of us who live in a civilized environment. [quote]The artist is a sensitive instrument for forecasting. The clouds of an oncoming storm are already here.[/quote]
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Yes, throughout your artworks we see subjects caught in a listless dream-state as all around them their world is gently eroding, a tide washing over and threatening to carry the world they cherish out to sea. There is a menacing instability here as your subjects sleep. Tension between wanting to hold on to the elegance of Greece’s classical past and the desire to create something new on more solid ground. How would you describe the state of the contemporary art scene today in Greece given this current climate of uncertainty? Is this a good time to be an artist? Or a precarious one? Where do you see art headed?
Vangelis Rinas: In the work I have done so far, man is isolated, often turning inside himself, becoming part of an unsound world, wearing a mask. Harboring a secret vanity-wish that the hand of God will restore the logical world.
In my latest work, this mask falls away, transforming into a real face with characteristics which have the strength and readiness to deal with the bad and the good.
[quote]The artist is born to suffer from incurable romance. No matter how hard reality becomes, he always believes that his work and art may change the world.[/quote]In a way, he makes this happen when he is honest, true to himself and to his art. That is the most difficult process we deal with. But I believe it is worth it.
Vangelis Rinas: [quote]The artist is like a sensitive forecasting instrument foretelling where we are going as a people. This is how I explain that sometimes my paintings are prophetic, such as the collapse we Greeks are experiencing at the moment.[/quote]
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: What stories or myths captured your imagination as a boy? Who were your heroes? What adventures called to you to come follow?
Vangelis Rinas: [quote]Don’t forget that we are born of the same land as Ulysses, made for travels and adventures, captains and fighters and explorers at the same time. Even when events don’t provoke us, we provoke events to happen. [/quote]The artist, from wherever he comes, is born much like Ulysses.
Vangelis Rinas: I am sure that something real and true will come out of this situation here in my country. Many Greek artists are traveling and showing their work everywhere.
Vangelis Rinas: I grew up in nature, in the woods and by the sea, and I consider it a blessing for anyone to have such life experiences during that age of innocence, childhood, when all we experience creates clarity and order in our souls.
Vangelis Rinas: These are the images from the islands where I was born and raised, and they come through in my life and in my work.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Can you describe for me a bit of the process of boat-making? What goes through your mind as you fashion, bend and then sand the wood? Is it a meditative process? What led to your love affair with boats?
Vangelis Rinas:[quote] Working with wood is an extension of my relationship with nature and the trees, a relationship which is almost erotic. So I usually transform wood into young girls, into big ships, like the ones I admired as a boy and which travel nonstop for me in the sea and in the air.[/quote]
Vangelis Rinas: Often my need to come close to the wood is very strong and I want to touch the wood, caress it, carve it, sweat upon it, to fill myself up with the scents of the woods,the scent of another world which moves in the boundaries of myth and eternity.
Vangelis Rinas: I have written a story about a big tree which talks, this I carved into a ship-sculpture which travels so it is able to speak to people who want to listen… The one, eternal voice which may become a whisper or a hum, the voice of the world which includes all voices and music!
Vangelis Rinas: I have created along with my colleagues, two short films that explore the idea of the voyage I embarked upon to bring a boat to life. Boat as a musical instrument, a compass.
The whole top part of the sculpture is a huge womb made of wood. This symbolizes the reproduction of information in its original form. The writing is in Chinese script, as the Chinese are the inventors of printing. Also there is braille writing for the blind. The story-myth explores the ideas of love, respect, balance and hope ~ the necessary characteristics of civilization.
|Vangelis Rinas is a is a Greek painter and sculptor having his roots in the Northeastern Aegean Sea. He was born in Samos island, but grew up in Ikara island in 1966. He holds an MFA from the Athens School of Fine Arts and lives and works in Athens and New York. Since 1992, he as enjoyed shows in Greece and abroad and participates in international biennials. Among them, his solo exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and his latest solo show at Tenri Culutural Institute in New York. Since 2000 he has presented three solo exhibitions entitled “Endless Sailing.” All three included paintings and sculpture. His Sculpture has been installed in the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing with Chinese ideograms and Braille writing.
You can connect with Rinas on his website.
I wish to thank Fotini Hamidieli, of Veria, Imathia Greece, for translating this interview for my Combustus readers. Hamidieli, an accomplished painter in her own right, has been profiled herself in Combusutus as well as has contributed her evocative work to other Combusuts profiles. To enjoy Fotini’s work, please see her interview here.
Also her artwork included in the pieces, “The Life imagined,” and in “The Lies We’re Told, The Lies We Tell Ourselves, and the Hopeful Truth.”