In February 2019 George Stamatakis presented his solo show “Wooden Garden” in Gallery K, Tokyo, Japan, curated by Galini Lazani.
As George Stamatakis suggests, every little thing that surrounds us tells a story. It is then up to the artist to choose which story to tell and the way in which he can best narrate it to us. As in any of Stamatakis’ shows, the Wooden Garden installation is part of a greater story; a story both personal and collective at the same time. The project Into the school garden illustrated the history of an abandoned school in the provincial district of Guana in Japan, as it was shaped by the artist and the narration of Yutaka Watanabe san, the benefactor of the school building.
In his current exhibition, the artist focuses even closer, literally and metaphorically, and chooses to show a part of that project, an installation which he describes as a sculpture forest and which acts as a frame for his paintings. The wooden beams and the warm yellow flashlight, with which the viewer is driven to discover Stamatakis’ work, form the necessary scenery in order to create a sense of wandering in the forest, along with the excitement of revealing its individual elements. A fundamental trait in the artist’s work is the surfacing of an experience’s memory and the emotion it triggers for us. And since this is a universal reaction, the artist chooses to render the landscapes he presents in a way that combines locations, materials and techniques of various traditions and cultures.
The image of a mountain, which Stamatakis chose as the main theme of his installation, may spring from his most private memories, but at the same time it serves as a symbol of wider concepts such as beauty, stability -or in other words security-, immobility in the sense of a barrier, maybe even eternity. His color palette, painting techniques and gestures are inspired by the classic landscape paintings of the great European painters, but, by including in his installation paper, wood and ink he refers to the prominent Japanese artistic tradition. As a consequence, painting from memory and with extended brush strokes of glazes, in a kind of a romantic way of depicting the landscapes, is combined with the clarity and rigor of Japanese materials.
Stamatakis states that the means of artistic expression also define to an extent the creativity and expression of the artist. Therefore, blending the artistic means also contributes to the desired production of meaning and appeal of emotion. A prominent feature of George Stamatakis’ work is the combination of the skillful use of materials with a distinct personal idiom, the narrative of a story and the emotional engagement of the viewer to his work, which is exquisitely accomplished in the Wooden Garden exhibition as well.