Born in Greece, now permanently settled in Berlin “ the Krank”, meaning “sick” in german, this month in Greek street art – Talks. We’re discussing about his work, his choice to move permanently to Germany, but also the differences between the two societies when it comes to art in public space.
How does your journey with visual arts begin, how did you came up with your name and why?
The course begins from a very young age. My mother was a designer and my father a musician. Although they were separated and I was between two different cities, I grew up with a lot of stimuli and knowledge when it comes to the arts.
Krank – in German means “sick,”, it was the identity I found in my suitcases when I arrived in Berlin in 2013. Initially the choice of the name happened completely unconsciously as a simple translation of the works I had begun to create during this period. Black acrylic, spontaneous forms and harsh textures combined with early signs of typographical evolution. All married harmoniously on a white background, accompanied by the exclamation of “sick”.
In the course of time, having become familiar with the visual language I had developed, more and more meaningful dimensions began to emerge that linked my art to the “illness” of modern society, and therefore answered the original question of who I am.
Where did you grow up and which are your most essential influences? Is the background of an artist important?
I grew up in Kalamata, at a time when society was quite closed and not so tolerant, that lead me to abandon it in order to study in university and since then I’ve keeping less and less contacts with the city and its society.
The influences of my background and my experiences have been engraved within me and are an Indivisible part of my character. Through difficult living conditions and hard social circles, friendships were created with people sharing the same ideals and having a common vivid tendency for creation and expression. We have a very close friendship (ΟΔΒ/KRC) and the memories I’ve gained from these people are all unique. One of the most distinguished friends in the artistic part was Haris (Barns), a man who inspired us all with his dedication and creativity.
Nevertheless, after eight years of absence, I’ve been planning an artistic visit to Kalamata in order to dig out as many memories as possible. There are stories that have never been told and I want to place them in a series of works on the walls of the unknown, for me, city, which has raised me
When and how do you start dealing with art in public space? What’s the parameter that distinguish it from the other forms of art?
The first contact with tagging was around 1998 as a member of a group that signed walls with the Initials SST. Since 2002 a more conscious approach to graffiti and rap began through ΟΔΒ / KLMT and TOMAHOK groups that was completed in 2013. After radical changes in my way of thinking and in combination with the experimentation of various arts, I ended up in today’s form of artistic expression.
I personally want to perceive the public / external space as an exercise ground for art. A communal space of essential communication with the environment and not as an autonomous genre of art. It completes me utterly when both edges (street art & fine art) intersect and that’s one of the basic goals in my job. The idea of using art that began from the road as one more commercialized applied art is as incongruous as the idea of enclosing it in closed social circles.
We are the tangible proof of a complex form of living organism that communicates and interacts by leaving its traces in the urban arteries of the city.
Your job is a sequence of typographic elements in smaller or larger surfaces. Are there any messages – points that do you’d want to communicate?
My work is mostly based on typography and abstract art. I combine in the same space and time the conscious, using the written speech, with the unconscious, through the abstract expressionism. Behind the written content there is a series of collaborating links that encrypt the message and are intended for a deeper interpretation on a second reading level. It’s a continuous process that’s complemented by obscene movements and gestures, manifesting effortlessly personal feelings that create in the artwork parallel narrative performances and conceivable horizons. This mechanism works in projects and installations in the urban environment with photographic and geometric harmony.
My ideology revolves around consciousness and man. Through the projects I implement, I try to cultivate an ethical state within the complex structure of modern life, aiming at a deeper understanding of the real. Modern Western civilization is characterized by selfishness, lack of braveness and conscious-indifference. I think it’s my duty to capture in my art the most sincere interpretation of the world by opening up a dialogue for alternative visions.
On the other hand, black and white abstract compositions on various surfaces. How “easy” is abstract art after all?
Either a transmitter or a receiver, abstract art is “easy” only if you manage to unlock it.
It’s one of the most important artistic movements that has revised the rules and the perception of art, creating outnumbered visual art languages but also artistic perceptions. My own view finds my work to balance between tension and silence by opening up a dialogue in the direction of exploring the intimate thought. It’s a complex answer that basically works by questioning the receiver’s feelings, offering a frictionless communication, avoiding personal defenses or weaknesses in the meaning that common conscious communication brings.
Why did you choose to live, at least at this phase in Berlin and not in another European city?
I first came to Berlin as a visitor in the summer of 2009 and I realized that it had what I needed the most Art, architecture, lifestyle, different rhythms and cultures, nature and overall the energy the city emits are signs of an unexplored mental peace. After my return and the upcoming cultural shock, Athens looked like an urban swamp that was mostly flooded by mentally fragmented residents in a system that was dysfunctional and leading to a more general social recession. Since then, I spent almost four years in Neos Kosmos in Athens until I decided it was time to leave.
On the spontaneity of the age and in the context of survival, I made the decision to leave everything behind me and restart my life on a fertile ground.
I traveled and got to know several European cities, but they didn’t manage to win me as much as Berlin. It’s an odd, almost erotic, bond that only if you have stayed in this city can you understand it since you are in a continuous process of discovery and integration.
You stay in Berlin while for many Athens is the new Berlin. Does that apply to you? What’s the difference between the 2 capital Cities?
Beyond graffiti tourism and its consequences, there has always been a strong artistic need for expression in Greece because of the general social and economic situation in the country. But literally speaking, this rumor is a marketing product. With a quick search you’ll see that Athens isn’t the only city on the waiting list. Lisbon, Brussels, Leipzig, Belgrade, Warsaw are some of the alternative cities already calling themselves “New Berlin”.
Berlin has a very recent political story that defines it ideologically and turned it into a coveted “forbidden fruit” because of its very special temperament and lifestyle. Beyond the city of entertainment, Berlin is throbbing by artists of all kinds, new visionaries, ideologists but the most important, “open minded” citizens.
Despite the many different cultures that have flooded the German capital in recent decades, you see a mostly harmonious and creative interaction in a European model of a city with a much high standard of living. The Berliners have embraced the right to freedom of the individual and don’t cope with stereotypical perceptions that lead to the exclusion of social groups.
Berlin, at first glance, may seem unorganized but it’s not. It is a well-organized, low-cost city, where every idea can grow and flourish satisfying both spiritual and social needs, setting the cultural level of people’s lives high enough. A major factor in helping to preserve this so-called alternative society that began in the West Berlin Wall and continues to this day is the support it receives from the strong German economy.
How much does the same artwork change when it enters a room and how easy is it for an artist to create an exhibition with beginning middle and end communicating an idea?
I don’t think it changes anything in the artwork, it certainly isolates it from the chatter of the outside space and you can see it in a clear look and in different circumstances. Depending on the means and the creativity you can find new ways of approaching an original idea, which gives you the possibility of artistic development and more complete communication with the viewer.
Typically, the exhibitions are organized in collaboration with a curator who provides you with the necessary support for a smooth narrative. If you choose to work on your own the entire set-up of an individual exhibition it’ll be quite difficult and time-consuming especially if you don’t have access to resources since there’s a large accounting and functional part that can even influence the way you approach your original idea.
Book a street artist. Tell us about this project.
Book a Street Artist is a start up consisted of an international team of young people who have chosen to serve the street arts professionally. They try to support artists and bridge the gap between street art and market.
Essentially, this is an online platform / portfolio with autonomous artists, offering the opportunity for the interested person to contact the artist he wants and come to an agreement for a project assignment under the umbrella of the company. At present, they have more than 500 artists in their portfolio, mainly in Germany and Portugal, and a very good customer base that works exclusively with the platform and its artists.
In ten years from now?
A little more free