90% of my street work has been made in Athens/Greece. The political and social situation there is pretty loose and that gives room for anomie of all sorts. It is not necessary to get a permission to paint in the public domain.
Zak Smith: First–for the people who don’t know–who are you, where are you from?
Alexandros Vasmoulakis: My name is Alexandros Vasmoulakis, I was born in Athens, Greece in 1980 and studied painting at the university. Currently I live in Berlin.
Smith: Like a lot of early 20th century artists like Balthus or Modigliani, your work almost always features these people who have a certain kind of face. This sort of dark, kind of deep-eyed faces–like Kafka’s family or something. Where do these faces come from? Are they Greek faces?
Vasmoulakis: The process starts first of all by ripping pages from magazines, collecting fragments of other faces, mostly from glamorous ads.
The next step is the selection of the proper elements (mouths, eyes, noses) and the mix of them with my own drawing.
Actually it is a collage but it is not that obvious in the final project because it is all made just with ink and acrylic. The very first idea is to create something through the destruction of something else.
Smith: You use a lot of techniques associated with commercial art and illustration, but you pervert them away from their original purpose and message. A lot of artists do that, but then they usually pervert it towards some other message. It almost seems like, instead of trying to show the audience a simple, understandable, message–like advertisements and most fine art–you’re trying to destroy the idea of a simple message and just leave people with a picture. Is that right?