GREECE

SHIBUI Issue - - CONTENTS -

Ur­ban cal­lig­ra­phy takes the an­cient art form from pen and paper to mod­ern streetscape.

SI­MON SI­LAIDIS IS A UNIQUE CAL­LIG­RA­PHY ARTIST, TAK­ING THE TRA­DI­TION­ALLY PEN AND PAPER ART FORM TO THE STREETS. HIS BEAU­TI­FUL FLOW­ING WORKS OF ART ADORN ABAN­DONED BUILD­INGS AND LAND­SCAPES IN A WAY WHICH CRE­ATES HAR­MONY BE­TWEEN THE NAT­U­RAL EN­VI­RON­MENT, ART­WORK AND THE VIEWER.

FIRST OF ALL, CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS – YOUR WORK IS JUST STUN­NING! WHAT IS ‘UR­BAN CAL­LIG­RA­PHY’ AND WHERE DID THE CON­CEPT OF TAK­ING CAL­LIG­RA­PHY FROM TRA­DI­TIONAL PEN AND PAPER TO LARGE SCALE MU­RALS COME FROM?

Cal­lig­ra­phy is both im­age and text. Con­sid­ered by some the high­est form of art, the choice of char­ac­ters and all the dif­fer­ent ways in which they can be brushed seems lim­it­less.

Ur­ban Cal­lig­ra­phy, as the term sug­gests, is cal­lig­ra­phy in ru­ral, ur­ban and sub­ur­ban sur­round­ings. It is a unique form of cal­lig­ra­phy which es­capes from the ink to the paper within the bor­ing sur­round­ings of a cal­lig­ra­phy lab, and frees it­self in aban­doned build­ings, streets and on all sorts of sur­faces. It is an at­tempt to ex­pose the at­mos­phere of the lo­ca­tion through cal­lig­ra­phy.

Tak­ing cal­lig­ra­phy to a larger scale came from my need to give my art­work more im­pact on the viewer, to be part of their world and at the same time to speak louder to them.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIG­I­NALLY AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED NOW?

I am from Athens, Greece. I feel my­self lucky and proud that I live in the coun­try where cal­lig­ra­phy and all ba­sic forms of art were born. I have had the chance through my work to travel all over the world and meet a greater va­ri­ety of peo­ple and cul­tures than I ever imag­ined.

CAN YOU TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT THE CUL­TURAL TRA­DI­TION BE­HIND CAL­LIG­RA­PHY AS AN ART FORM?

Calli-gra­phy in Greek means “beau­ti­ful writ­ing” and is used to de­fine a type of writ­ing which can be con­sid­ered a work of art.

Mod­ern cal­lig­ra­phy gives letters and signs a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mean­ing to their orig­i­nal word­ing. It ex­presses the feel­ing of the word, the har­mony and beauty of the word’s sig­nif­i­cance in the most skil­ful way. Let­ter­ing and

signs don’t need to be dis­tinc­tive or read­able to be con­sid­ered works of art.

A cal­lig­ra­pher ought to be broad­minded and ex­er­cise both clas­si­cal and non-clas­si­cal hand-let­ter­ing. Cre­at­ing such art is not an easy task. Pas­sion is not the only ad­van­tage that a cal­lig­ra­pher re­quires. The cal­lig­ra­pher has to be pa­tient when he presses the brush on the sur­face to cre­ate his char­ac­ters. The dex­ter­ity needed to write with a brush rather than a pen is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to ob­tain. A per­son must pos­sess the val­ues of pre­ci­sion, pa­tience and hard work in order to be­come a true cal­lig­ra­pher.

WHEN DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH CAL­LIG­RA­PHY AND WHERE DID YOU FIRST LEARN THE ART?

My jour­ney in cal­lig­ra­phy started back in 1998, when I vis­ited an arts fes­ti­val in Athens. By 2001, I was ex­per­i­ment­ing with many dif­fer­ent styles of letters, re­search­ing all I could find in a va­ri­ety of sources. My later jour­neys to dif­fer­ent coun­tries have led me to dis­cover new ty­po­graph­ic­cal­li­graphic styles by study­ing the let­ter­ing of their scripts. Nowa­days, I use the ex­pe­ri­ence and emo­tions I ac­quired through­out my trav­els to cre­ate a fu­sion of Western-AsianAra­bic cal­li­graphic styles.

YOUR WORK BLENDS SO BEAU­TI­FULLY WITH THE BUILD­INGS YOU CHOOSE. HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR ‘CAN­VASES’ AND IS THERE MEAN­ING BE­HIND THE ABAN­DONED SPACES AND LAND­SCAPES?

The most im­por­tant thing for me is how my work blends with the en­vi­ron­ment. I re­ally don’t give much at­ten­tion to paint­ing in cen­tral spots; this is some­thing too com­mon amongst many other artists – ev­ery­one try­ing to get as much ex­po­sure as pos­si­ble. I try to get the ex­po­sure of a sin­gle per­son find­ing the spot that I dec­o­rated. That way I am sure the wall will com­mu­ni­cate with them.

I get many emails from peo­ple or groups like aban­dog­ra­phy pho­tog­ra­phers who ex­plore these

kind of spots writ­ing back to me about the way the mu­ral spoke to them. This is my re­ward, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Art, af­ter all, is about ex­pres­sion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and that’s why I spend so much time find­ing the ideal lo­ca­tion that will merge per­fectly with the art, rather than the other way around – search­ing for a place where many peo­ple can see it.

I also pre­fer to work on the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of a wall be­cause I firmly be­lieve that time is the best back­ground for ev­ery piece, that way it blends 100% and cre­ates a bet­ter phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance. When I re­turn back af­ter some time, I can see parts of the wall de­stroyed… this is art with the help of nature.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE STATE­MENTS YOUR MU­RALS MAKE?

I col­lect all emo­tions that sur­round me – whether bad or good, I keep them all. The words I select are a com­bi­na­tion of my own life path and the at­mos­phere of the spot that will ac­com­mo­date my art. The ‘Grace’ mu­ral was made in an aban­doned place on the is­land of Mykonos. My in­spi­ra­tion came from the view and the way in which the sun­set was hug­ging the left­overs of the build­ing. If some­one were to see this view at this spe­cific mo­ment, the only thing that would come into their mind would be that we should be grace­ful about all this magic given to us by the Cre­ator.

The ‘Life’ mu­ral was in­spired by a dif­fi­cult pe­riod of my life. I had some health is­sues and spent a lot of time wait­ing for all this to pass. ‘Life’ was stuck in my mind, giv­ing me the strength to fight and re­cover, in order to do all the things that I love.

‘Dare to Dream’ has a dif­fer­ent story. It is a re­minder for those who need mo­ti­va­tion in their life. I wanted to cre­ate some­thing that speaks di­rectly to the viewer’s heart and mind, and helps them un­der­stand that we should never give up chas­ing our dreams. It might need some time to get the de­sired re­sult, but if we con­tinue fight­ing for the things we

love, life will al­ways have the an­swer for us.

IS THERE A WRIT­TEN LAN­GUAGE YOU PRE­FER TO USE FOR YOUR CAL­LIG­RA­PHY AND HOW SYM­BOLIC/IM­POR­TANT IS THE LAN­GUAGE TO THE FI­NAL DE­SIGN?

I think that ev­ery lan­guage has its own beauty for those who un­der­stand it. Per­son­ally, I think that it's not the lan­guage it­self that mat­ters the most. I fo­cus on the word, not the lan­guage. The power of the word can over­come any lan­guage. It’s enough for some­one to un­der­stand the mean­ing when the com­po­si­tion is balanced and com­plete.

WHAT IN­SPIRES YOU AS A PER­SON AND MORE SPECIF­I­CALLY, WHAT IN­SPIRES YOUR DE­SIGNS?

I en­joy los­ing my­self in nature and this is the great­est in­spi­ra­tion in my life. Wher­ever you turn your eyes you can find beauty and unique­ness. Trav­el­ling and ex­plor­ing are also both im­por­tant in­flu­ences. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures all over the world and shar­ing their tra­di­tions, their scripts and their his­tory, gives you a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

All these in­spire the emo­tions which I try to trans­late into my art.

HOW LONG WOULD YOU SPEND ON YOUR LARGE SCALE BUILD­ING PIECES… AND WHY AREN’T THEY SIGNED?

Usu­ally it takes me around three days to fin­ish a mu­ral. In the mo­ment of cre­ation, I al­ways try to iso­late my brain from any thoughts ex­cept the draw­ing. I have to bring my body and brain to­gether into har­mony to ac­com­plish this. I work 100% of the wall tex­ture and I don’t buff any­thing, so at the same time I must be very care­ful about any mis­takes I might do. Mis­takes hap­pen quite of­ten be­cause you are on a lad­der all the time, which de­mands a lot of bal­ance and sta­bil­ity. Arm move­ment is lim­ited as you are on a medium that can ex­tend ex­tremely wide. So you have to “in­vent” dif­fer­ent move­ments to draw ev­ery­thing. Some­times the move­ments are in re­verse to what they would be on can­vas or paper. Over years of evolv­ing my style, I un­der­stood that sign­ing my mu­rals is not nec­es­sary. I never wanted the viewer to fo­cus on the “name” of the cre­ator, but on the cre­ation it­self. Also, I feel that sign­ing an art­work is not part of a balanced cre­ation, and for me bal­ance is the key in my cal­lig­ra­phy.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT ANY EX­CIT­ING PROJECTS YOU’RE WORK­ING ON AT THE MO­MENT?

At the mo­ment I’m mov­ing to a big­ger stu­dio and it needs a lot of time and prepa­ra­tion. This change will help me to evolve my skills, since the new stu­dio will give me more space to prac­tise with scale and com­plex­ity, and help to im­prove the move­ments that I use when I draw on the out­side walls.

CAN YOU GIVE US A LO­CAL’S TIP FOR WHERE YOU LIVE?

Visit the Tech­nop­o­lis and Exarcheia ar­eas where you can find the work of many artists, who have dec­o­rated the walls us­ing their ta­lent, and get in­spired by the ur­ban art.

COULD WE GET A FI­NAL IN­SPI­RA­TIONAL QUOTE FROM YOU?

Ev­ery paint­ing rises from the brush­strokes, as poem rises from the words. The mean­ing comes later…

“IT MIGHT NEED SOME TIME TO GET THE DE­SIRED RE­SULT, BUT IF WE CON­TINUE FIGHT­ING FOR THE THINGS WE LOVE, LIFE WILL AL­WAYS HAVE US.”SI­MON THE AN­SWER FOR SI­LAIDIS

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE Si­mon Si­laidis paint­ing ‘Voy­age' CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP ‘Aura' (Mykonos Is­land),

‘Voy­age', ‘Aura'

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