Artist Takis – ‘I Know How to Use Energy’ | TateShots

Artist Takis – ‘I Know How to Use Energy’ | TateShots


It’s an amazing thing. Panagiotis Vassilakis, the artist known as
Takis, was born in 1925 in Athens. His childhood took place during the occupation
by the Germans and the Italians in World War II. And immediately after was followed by a Greek
civil war. He was very involved in different political
groups at the time. And became a sculptor later in his life, in
his late 20s. As a young man Takis took great interest in
ancient sculpture in particular. And his early work show an indebtedness to
that, but also to modern sculpture. He was particularly interested in the work
of Giacometti and Picasso. He was self-taught and an autodidact in all
types of material whether it was philosophy or history or politics. He moved to Paris in 1954 and it’s in Paris
that you see this transformation of his sculpture. There are two key moments in Takis’s work. One happens around 1957 after a trip from
London. And while waiting for the train he becomes
inspired by the flashing lights and the antenna and aerials that he sees around the station
platform. He started to make sculpture which he called
‘Signals’ and which became one of his most iconic type of work. The other key moment happens in 1959 when
the artist discovers magnetism as a way for sculpting. He looked for a way to break the conventions
of what sculpture could be. Instead of a solid, heavy form, he tried to
tried to create a kind of sculpture that floats in space. When the artist has defied gravity and defied
the forces that normally keep us on the ground. In preparation for an exhibition of Takis’s
work I had the opportunity to travel to Athens in 2017 with my co-curator, Guy Brett. Guy and Takis have a long-standing relationship. They met in the early 1960s in London when
Guy was an art critic. And they became very involved in an artist-run
space known as Signals Gallery. Takis is living and working in Athens to this
day. He’s been there since the mid-1980s and in
1993 he created a research centre for the arts and the sciences called the KETE Foundation,
and is now known as the Takis Foundation. It’s a research centre. It’s a library and
an archive. And it’s also the studio of where the artist
makes his work. So elemental. Takis often comments that the focus of his
work is around energy. Sound is one of those key elements of energy. It’s an invisible force that Takis makes present
using a number of different devices. It’s something contemplative and Takis is
often thought about in relationship to the cosmos and to energy fields and the sounds
of the universe. Takis’s studio, he began developing it in
the 1960s or the early 1970s and it wasn’t completed until much later. It’s on a hill-side with a view of Athens
and the Parthenon in the distance. It’s a very strange and bewitching place with
lots of movement. Giant sculptures that are swirling in the
wind. It’s magical. And it was wonderful to see Guy Brett and
Takis together. To see the friendship that they have been
carrying on for so many years. You ask me how I did this work. Well I’ll show you how I did it. This is giving energy. As I used to everyday, I do. And then by accident. It’s the same thing. Is energy a thing? Energy stays with you, inside you, in energy. I feel more young than you. I know how to use the energy, first of all. I have the experience which you don’t have
because you are young. So you don’t know how to use your energy. Therefore you are not young. I am young, not you. And I want to spend my energy working. Takis has a career that expands more than
seventy years. Takis works are mesmerising. The way they use sound and light. They’re constantly moving and changing. There’s something sensual about these works
that brings the audience in to look closely and take delight in these sculptural and sonic
worlds. It breaks the conventions of what sculpture
can be.

16 thoughts on “Artist Takis – ‘I Know How to Use Energy’ | TateShots”

  • Not sure on this. Why didn't he just pursue an academic study of Physics? Are these sculptures really magical in the age of electricity and digital technology? Also, that's his overconfidence and false ego speaking at the end when he's telling the reporter that he feels younger than him as he knows how to utilize his 'energy'. Empty, woo-woo talk. Was this video just the art-world elites glorifying something unimportant?

  • Don't want to treat Takis' work with contempt, after all I am just a dilettante, but I do not see something special here. Μaybe in his time the use of magnetic fields in arts, especially in sculpting, was something innovative and inspiring, but I don' think this is the case anymore. Take any student of architectural computation with some basic knowledge of arduino programming and they can produce much more impressive work. In any case, one has to admire the fact that Takis managed to produce his art and keep his dream alive in a very challenging environment, in difficult times, which was Greece in the 40's and 50's.

  • I went to this exhibition in Tate. Beautiful experience of the artist using technology and often industrial material to produce a very human response and symbolism. Very original work. I highly recommend anyone interested to simply visit the exhibition.

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