Platon’s still lives

Akin to trophies made of natural materials gathered from the four corners of the world, the still lives of Platon Alexis Hadjimichalis bring together a scientist’s meticulousness in listing, sorting and arranging with the artist’s creative extrapolations which render visible the unseen within these materials. We could call his works abstract paintings made without brushes. Organic elements such as feathers, animal hairs, egg shells, fish scales or bones, are subtly matched to cover entire surfaces to produce a powerful design, a dynamic structure borrowed from François Morellet, a French artist known for sculptures assembled from neon light-tubes.

 

Bordering on the obsessional, this very patient and often geometric process allows nature to better reveal its most unexpected aspects through being captured by art. This is what gives the work its semantic richness. The bizarre juxtapositions also reveal the infinite range of colours, patterns, shapes and textures whose origins are often hard to determine due to their "pictorial" arrangement. We are brought into a world which combines the smooth, the heavy, the brilliant, the light, the sharp, the spicy, the flecked, the downy, the spotted... It refers to the influence of time upon matter and to the active nostalgia of the plastician contemplating the planet’s collapse/bankruptcy.

 

Hadjimichalis recounts that he came to practise the art of "assembling" the day he discovered the beauty of a kelp bed on a beach at low tide. Since then, he goes on repeating through his works that the artist invents nothing, or almost; that creativity lies within nature’s own strangeness and prodigality. All that is needed is to "activate" it, no mean task itself, and so he does through the flora, fauna and the elements, with a preference—his Greekness obliging—for the sea and the sky.

 

A legacy carried by a very contemporary and bold imagination is evident in these modern "mirabilia". One is reminded of the curiosity cabinets of old, of the New Realists, despisers of consumption, of Jan Fabre and his beetles, of the plants of Bob Verschuren, of Gloria Friedmann who puts the animal on the foreground of her poetic-critical system.

 

This fascination with the second life of organic materials is spiced by the Graeco-French artist's sense of sarcasm and humour which are a welcome counterpoint to the modern and contemporary narcissists who believed they had discovered the moon and, quite wrongly, continue to believe it..

Danièle Gillemon

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