Interview to Eleana Stamatopoulou, AXIA newspaper, 28/9/2013

– Mr Garyfallakis, what made you pick up a brush and start painting?

Having made two projects with pastel when I was 17, since then it didn’t happen to deal with painting nor feel the need to express myself through it, but only as a viewer. At the end of 2010, coincidentally I experienced an outdoor event of creation and exhibition of works created by students and new graduates of Fine Arts Superior School of Athens. That was the moment when the thought of an attempt passed through my mind. I saw it more like a way to relax during leisure time off work, and especially due to these strange days we all unfortunately continue experiencing. I got back to my house the same day not looking for probably a pencil and a piece of paper, but with an easel, five tubes of colors randomly selected, two brushes and two small canvases finding myself painting until early morning.

– Where from do you think you get your inspiration?

Sometimes, already having begun a project, I give a try to remember where I got the idea from and I really cannot. I think, that it comes from a total of a picture that I will see, a word that will pass in front of me and will be automatically combined with another or be paraphrased leading me back to another image. Some other times a random brush stroke might change the whole project unexpectedly. It’s that piece of the dream which leads you where it wants, requiring a small or a large consent from your side.

– Favorite Greek artist?

Two are my favorites, not being able to mention the one omitting the other. In my eyes, they are both so different and yet so exciting. One is Nikolaos Gyzis, whose painting work I remained looking at for half an hour, captivated by its emotions, observing the slightest brush stroke I could detect. I cannot talk about an artist like him, I only remain with what his painting works leave in me.
The other is Makis Theofylaktopoulos. The next day of the one of my first contact with the canvas, I looked for any current exhibitions happening for a visit. First result of my search was the retrospective exhibition of Makis Theofylaktopoulos at the Benaki Museum with the title “Tihes tis ilis” – “Fate of the material”. That same day, I don’t remember, but it must have been me who left the museum last … Simple forms, some of them so dark and at the same time so bright, really thrilled me. Textures and decomposition presenting the slightest detail of a figure I was trying to discover through a feeling that perhaps was only mine.

– What is Art for you?

For me, Art is to do something with passion and perseverance to development. Offering to it, receiving back … and then, right from the start again. A ticket for a trip to a different place than the one you initially planned to go, but always both the journey and the memories of your visit remain unforgettable. As much as it has to do with painting, I think that Art is whatever you do, not to be filtered in your mind by any suspension in an attempt to lead to a result liked by one person or more. Only then you remain being yourself. Perhaps, if you want to be liked, this kind of suspensions is the one you should avoid, at the same time remaining realistic and honest with yourself above all.

– Eerie figures, strange beings … what’s the aim? What is the message that you want to pass to the viewer?

Day by day, I figured out that in some of my projects, one way or another, I was integrating the element of water. Thus, in the last three, I decided to dive more deep, to the darker parts of the seabed. To places you could probably be afraid to visit and which, at the same time, are so peaceful. Where beautiful images are hidden, either living or not. There you could meet inner beauty, with absence of the external usually attracting us first, or which we are looking for, or judge through it. As I mentioned above, a paraphrased word or a random brush stroke lead me to the concept … to “Drop me a line” … to “Libra” … to “Catharsis” … to “Hippocrite” … to “MEDuse” … to “Father Conchiglivs” … In the beginning, I was trying to explain to my friends my projects’ logic, trying to share with them my thoughts as well. After having received different opinions on a project’s meaning or message, I ended up with the thought that it would be preferable not to describe any message to the viewer depriving him of any personal perception of his, and myself of a new one through his eyes. Perhaps his trip may be with a different destination than mine … and usually that is the case.

– In your works transitions of light are very intense while, there is a great harmony in tones …

Relatively to the intense transitions of light, the logic of chiaroscuro has always been  fascinating me in everything … same with painting. There is no way to ever forget the unique emotion felt when I first saw Rembrandt’s and Caravaggio’s masterpieces … Now, if you noticed this harmony you mentioned, I can only say that I am delighted with this comment of yours. I am trying to develop myself, getting lessons from my mistakes, observing, studying, working out the opinion of everybody –relative to art or not. However, sometimes, arriving to unknown places without a compass is enchanting, even if the path is sometimes longer.

Do you consider painting as a pleasant hobby or you are thinking to exhibit your works in the future?

Neither my passion nor my need to paint could characterize it no longer as simply a hobby. An exhibition is not an end in itself. It would be a great pleasure and honor to me to be able to exhibit, given that at least I will have first something to say and share through it.

Would you prefer to have a career in Greece or abroad;

Relatively to Art, Greek public is excellent and able to make me amazingly happy if it  honored me some time with recognition. If now, it happens I received it from abroad as well, I would consider it as a great opportunity to expand my audience with people of different cultures than the Greek, and widen my horizons in painting.

What is your opinion on the current political and financial developments in our country?

Greece had an abscess that, not only wasn’t cured but, broke infecting, sometimes unfairly, any healthy areas of its wracked body. Nobody can remain indifferent either in front of the necessity to tidy our house or, at the same time, in front of people who commit suicide, those who are malnourished or the ones who do not have the opportunity to buy their medicines in Europe of 2013. Wanting to remain realistic, I feel the need to remain optimistic as to go further.

Do you think that Greek artists, due to the economic difficulties in our country, should further lower the prices of their works, or that would undervalue them?

I believe that value is clearly subjective and entirely relevant to the needs and desires, as well as to the name of each painter. These are the elements which, in combination with supply and demand as well as with the condition of the market,  should lead -I think- to a meeting point of an agreement making everyone happy.

Many things are heard about the gradual “disappearance” of Greek art market, as well as about recycling the same patterns without something new, something different on the horizon. What is your opinion?

I think that almost nothing as a whole comes from an absolute parthenogenesis. If that would be the case, the ones preceding us would not have left anything on us, either as viewers or creators. On the other hand, each viewer’s perception of a project can only be unique, as well as the relation of each painter with each and every different viewer. In my opinion, it is only the interest which could be, not gone but, only temporarily decreased and this has nothing to do with patterns or trends. Certainly, when something well established unites with something innovative, this can do nothing else but attract more eyes, either positively or negatively. The only thing that’s certain is that this agitates the waters, and that is positive.