“The color of phenomenon” , how Greek artist George Stamatakis ‘traveled’ the underwater landscape of Ionian sea to Japan and its association with an environmental issue

‘The Color of Phenomenon’ an exhibition of visual artist-painter George Stamatakis,held at the Sumida Hokusai Museum of Japan form 18th of December until the 26th of it.Since we weren’t able to visit it physically let’s dive into George Stamatakis’ artworld.Before I introduce him to you I would like to thank him for the original photos , the texts and all the details he provided me with.He has been a long time on my periscope,because of his association with Japan,a country that I adore for its culture from ukiyo-e art and manga to its architecture and ikebana (art of flower arrangement) till the tea ceremony,the futuristic vision and of course the Japanese cuisine.

George Stamatakis, Photo by Zoe Manta

George Stamatakis was born in Heraklion, Crete in 1979 and he graduated from the Painting department of Athens School of Fine Arts at D’ Panos Charalambous Lab in 2019, on his art studies including International Exchange program at Tokyo University of the Arts on Shinji Ohmaki sculpture Lab in 2018 and 2019 with Scholarship by Jasso Organization.Stamatakis also has a degree of Economics (Marketing) from the University of West Attica and a degree in Journalism and Media.The stark landscapes of his Mediterranean homeland are a recurring image in his work.His portfolio includes solo and group exhibitions in Greece such as his participation at ‘Documenta 14’ and his second solo show presented by the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center in the Art-Thessaloniki art fair in 2018(I visited it but I didn’t know him back then) but also worldwide from London to Paris and from US to his “second” homeland Japan,one to mention is his solo show at K Gallery,Ginza,Tokyo. You can learn more about him here .Let’s have a closer look to ‘The Color of Phenomenon’ .

“Blue, blue, electric blue

That’s the colour of my room

Where I will live

Blue, blue”

David Bowie,Sound and Vision
Photo by Yozo Takada
David Bowie,Sound and Vision (Spotify)

According to recent scientific research,the sea will turn darker blue due to the effects of global warming.They estimate that this change will happen the next 100 years.Based on this scientific profechy,George Stamatakis who took the impressive number of 6000 photos of the underwater landscape of the Ionian sea,ended up to 62 who found the most suitable for his art installation.Then the images transferred to silk at a printing workshop in Alexandropoli,(Soufli renowned for its finest silk production) and dyed with indigo(blue colour) from Tokushima,which was airlifted from Japan.The exhibition was scheduled for June 2020 in the context of Olympic Games in Tokyo but postponed due to the pandemic and finally re-scheduled for December were displayed from 18th until 26th as part of the Tokyo Tokyo Festival.

"Oh God you spend so much blue so that we cannot see you", Odysseas Elytis, Nobel Prize in Literature (1979
Photo by George Stamatakis

George during the process

The event was organized by UPN, Ltd., and the project was awarded a grant by the Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture. It is endorsed by the Greek Embassy in Japan and is a cooperative netowork project of The Sumida River Sumi-Yume Art Project in Sumida Ward, where the traditional indigo dyeing workshop from the Edo period still exists.

In conversation with the artist’s work, short performances by Yukari Sakata (director), Takako Abe (actor), Yasuo Yamato and Kyojun Tanaka (musicians) were also presented.

Photo by Yozo Takada

“Now there’s a blue, blue, strange colour blue

Let me dream of me and you”

Madrugada, Strange Colour Blue
Photo by Yozo Takada

George ,who obtained a stay visa with deregulation in October,found his self back to Japan in order to complete and announce the new installation “The Color of Phenomenon”.Beside the artistic dimension of the project and the fact that the astonishing and captivating blue colour of the underwater of the Ionian sea travelled to Japan in a such unique way, I would like to point the importance of the environmental issue it conveys.As Stamatakis stated “At first I present the work with a romantic predisposition, but in reality this conceals a very cruel comment.”

“In the deepest ocean

The bottom of the sea

Your eyes

They turn me

Why should I stay here?

Why should I stay?

I’d be crazy not to follow

Follow where you lead”

Radiohead, Weird Fishes

Underwater photos by George Stamatakis , installation photos by Yozo Takada

“You have a taste of tempest on your lips—But where did you wander

All day long in the hard reverie of stone and sea?

An eagle-bearing wind stripped the hills

Stripped your longing to the bone”

MARINA OF THE ROCKS, Odysseus Elytis
Photo Yozo Takada

George’s installation has the power and the ability to transmit you that feeling of carefree Greek summer,the calmness and the movement of the blue sea, the light of our country,the hidden underwater world and bring you the poet of the Aegean sea(though) Odysseus Elytis and his blue and sea inspired poems to mind but at the same time it arises huge environmental issues our world is facing, such as the global warming and the seawater pollution.

Along with the exhibition ,in the same space, a video documentary (Director: Zoe Manta) of the production process was presented, as well as a text by Denys Zacharopoulos.

George Stamatakis during the process documented by Zoe Manta

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read and look at George’s artworks .My sincere appreciation to George Stamatakis ,with whom I share the same love for Japanese aesthetics, and thankful for trusting me to present him.

For more check George Stamatakis here and follow him on Instagram here .

Arigato ありがと!

Eleni Kadigkou Xx

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