11 Mai Types of ironwork
It is hard to say anything as good as saying nothing.”
Iron and art. Material and spirit. Two incompatible concepts, if we investigate their nature. Iron is a hard, cold, lifeless raw material- brings tools and guns to mind. Objects that reflect violence. Stiff, definite, irreversible forms. Art associations are in the opposite direction. Witty, emotional, human. Works of art express creativity, harmony, peace, mental warmth.
In what way does an iron artist balance these discrepancies? In the case of Kostas Kamperidis, the experiential art of a blacksmith transforms into art. As an observing child in his father’s workshop, then as his teenage assistant and now as an iron artist, Kostas Kamperidis operates using his being on the rigid, hard raw material attempting to transform it. He cuts, bends, curves, folds, polishes, oxidizes iron.He is set against iron and, in a sense, he tames it, he applies the forms he wishes on it, he tramsforms it into a flexible sculptural material. The ill-shaped material is given the form of an artwork through persistent and arduous work. The iron rod gets soft curves. What is formed is: a human face, a bull, an owl, a snail, a bicycle. Pieces of iron are welded and put together. Horses, a rooster, a flower pot with a plant, a fish caught in the metal net. The sculptures appear as timeless, unaltered shapes of a world which comes to a standstill in an artist’s imagination. Everything is reshaped into their primal iron substance. Even painting adapts to this chain of thought. A piece of iron plate is used as a canvas. On this canvas, Kostas Kamperidis rubs, polishes, carves in an attempt to bring out the natural colors of iron. Crude iron is black, the polished surface is white, the rusty sheet is brown. Due to this lack of colors, the sea turns black, the rusty ship turns brown, the smoke of its steam engine becomes white. But neither black, nor white are considered colors. However, the experienced and imaginative iron artist succeds in painting with iron colors, creating shiny, relief paintings, in which the light itself defines their appearance.
Kostas Kamperidis’ works of art reveal a deeply-rooted human need which is twofold. Survival on the one hand, art on the other. Both wish to be equally and uncompromisingly expressed in life. The artist entitled to apply a form to this amalgam may only have his imagination as his only stepping stone. If imagination can be based, as in the case of Kostas Kamperidis, on the experiential practice of art, then the bridge which the craftsman is building towards art has a strong foundation made of steel.
Dr. Omiros Xenidis