In conversation: Mike Petrakis
We had the opportunity to interview Greek contemporary conceptual artist Mike Petrakis whose art is inspired by a wide range of ancient and contemporary urban imaginary to create a parallel dialogue around modern social and individual atmospheres.
1. For the ones who are not familiar with your artistic practice can you describe it?
For me, the initial idea is the source of creating new artwork and projects. I am emotionally moving towards its realization and completion. My practice is the combination of four things and elements: Idea, material, execution and presentation. In addition to the medium and the primal matter, I aim to promote sustainability by regularly using second-hand objects such as vintage monitors, age-old electronic parts, etc. Recycling and reforming them is a tool to find their aesthetic beauty as I always aim at RECREATION.
2. Most of your work focuses on societal signs and symbolism, challenging their usual associations. Can you tell us what motivated you to focus on these issues?
Through my art, I want to redefine the meaning, the existence and the presence of archetypal icons, words and symbols. Opening a dialogue regarding our entity, nature and the configuration of humanity.
Remapping my personal icons and their complement words I challenge myself to redefine and regenerate their meaning and their societal value, not only from a linguistic point of view but also initiating a dialogue or rather a debate on the common and automatic meaning we attribute to them.
3. In your artistic statement, you mention “Art ought to be active and innovative, without a trace of repeated, static patterns.” Can you lead us through this line of thought?
Art should always be agile and innovative and as such should be accessible to the audience.
In my artistic process, I consistently aim to appeal to the most diverse spectators, be it their age, ethnic group, sexuality and so forth.
Likewise, it is my strong belief that art emanating from the artists’ studios or the galleries needs to be a fountain of joy, a feast of wine and images, provocative and gentle altogether.
Now regarding Innovation, my approach is equally Art and Science. Attempting to give a taste of mystery with my projects as well as trying to make sense of the world as it evolves.
4. What for you is fundamental to being able to create?
Absolute and unfiltered creative freedom. I find myself successful as an artist when I visualize and illustrate my thoughts in conjunction with interacting with every individual.
I aspire to connect with and also motivate them to (un)consciously develop their creativity, expand their observation of the cosmos and expand their own personality and field of vision.
In the same way, I let my art drive and expression guide me to discoveries, fresh notions and re-interpretations of myself and society. I aspire to project that sense of creative freedom to the public.
5. Can you tell us about your new project, Arteryficial Intelligence? What is the concept behind it?
Throughout my new work entitled “Arteryficial Intelligence“, runs a subjective, aesthetic and ethical thread of broadening the spectrum of emerging technologies and digitalization.
It acts as a metaphor for the fluidity of human nature apace with the ever-evolving sciences.
There is an obvious antithesis between the rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence in several fields, namely art, medicine, employment etc. and the simultaneous negative consequences of a growing confusion in collaboration between and communication with other people. These contrasting elements are part of my focus on AI and its comprehension to set the basis for a deeper understanding of the present and future technologies and an answer to whether humans can really control them.
6. The role of the artist in society has different interpretations. What do you think is the role of the artist in society?
The role of the artist is to raise constructive questions along with the audience, to visualize a better reality, to motivate and bridge the past with the future since I consider every Visual Artist to also be a Leader, that is to say, a messenger. A visibly pleasant artwork needs to decorate not only the space it inhabits but the mind and soul of its owners.
This is my aesthetic stance as an artist and my philosophy.
7. Besides being an artist you also are the Founder Director at Art InSide Businesses, What can you tell us about this organization? What motivated you to start this project?
“ Art InSide Business “ focuses on connecting Businesses, Art/ Creative Industries, Social Science and Design and directing companies, institutions, start-ups, entrepreneurs and universities towards developing soft and social skills, creativity, innovation, design thinking process and EQ.
It is a Leadership program in the midst of today’s growing competition at social and professional levels, where new forms and ideas need to be applied to teams and individuals.
By demonstrating sophisticated and enriched actions, evolving personal skills and attributes with respect to the distinctive vision and values of each organization, team and person.
“ Art InSide Business “ also provides services that enrich and reinforce the broad context and structure, always tailored to the specific client. I approach Art as a cognitive object in the observation of social changes, development and expansion. In a way, I reform the courses started in Silicon Valley in the 60s when companies mainly in the technology sector would collaborate with artists, a partnership that has gradually increased in the contemporary educational content.
My program acts as a crucible for the transmutation of leaden thinking into golden wisdom, and modern alchemy for advanced meaning/ sense/ image construction. And it is in my seminars and coaching lectures and consulting services that I stress the vital role of Art in finding an authentic voice.
8. Several of your artworks belong to private collections in Greece, Athens and Paris. What can you tell us about your relationship with curators and galleries?
I firmly believe that each profession and institution have its own notable purpose and principles and I respect their standpoint and I am open to new approaches and suggestions.
I have in my career cooperated with numerous curators, art directors, dealers and gallerists so far and I am grateful for those connections.
9. What do you struggle with the most about being an artist?
In the current circumstances, especially through the pandemic and the rise in socio-political violence and economic despair, I struggle to stimulate people and governments to display more empathy and support Art and Art Workers.
10. Where do you see your art practice evolve?
I will try to navigate new cognitive fields, such as Quantum Mechanics, Liberal Studies and The Performing Arts, all through with the combination of technology and with a strong personal motive for a positive impact on our society and our planet.
TV SHARK/AD-deAD (Installation with light) by Mike Petrakis. Image courtesy of Mike Petrakis.
See more of Petrakis work here.
Mike Petrakis is a contemporary conceptual artist. His art is characterized by secret gems and
mind teasers that he has planted for you to find. He challenges you to look twice at his
surrealistic work, to be rediscovered.
His philosophy is that “Art should appeal to a wide audience of all social tiers; should be seen by
as many people as possible in order to form part of the cultural discourse of a society”. His
mission isn’t to cynically trash the whole of society along with its signs and symbolism; instead,
he manages to reopen the debate on the associations we sometimes automatically make with
various cultural icons.
The aim of his art - philosophy, is to react to all the pre-established cultural images – icons and
to recycle them in such a way in order to change their utility and valor, towards all consumers.
Also to allude to the corruption and corrosion, to the words, icons and symbols, which we
consume in our everyday life, in attempt to redefine them.
His aim is, to free you from any fixed concepts and ideas acquired as a result of
brainwashing. You won’t fall prey to another, new brainwash; however, you might decide to
stop ramming down your throat the old, fixed interpretations as the only one possible.
You will soon discover how his philosophical, artistic expression has multilingual, multicultural
extensions and diachronic values, with hints on modern concerns affecting our future, through
the position of humanity across our existence, connected with our reaction – attitude –
treatment to nature and technology...