Under the tutelage of G. Moralis, the Greek artist Sarantis Karavousis studied at the Athens School of Fine Art (1959-1963), taking classes in fresco painting at the same time. In 1964, he toured Greece in order to study Greek art, after winning a scholarship for the sets he designed for the Folk Ballet at the National Theatre of Northern Greece. He was involved in a project at the Technological Applications Centre in Athens in 1966, leaving Greece a year later to study at the School of Fine Arts (École des Beaux-Arts) in Paris, receiving a bursary on behalf of the French Government. While there he became involved in engraving, while also attending lessons in theory at the research and higher education institution École Pratique des Hautes Études and the Louvre School. In the beginning, his works (mostly objects and still life) display a selective similarity to the dense, frozen aesthetic of the still life artist G. Morandi: controlled, simplistic compositions; earthy colours; a tone that is fractured but sensitive; inorganic (indoor) lighting; spaces without clear boundaries or perspective; a personalized, conceptual ambience; classical representations. Another category of artworks begins for Karavousis around this period that lasts well into the 1980s. The artist forms a pliable reference – a kind of expressive code – that continues to function in his future works, albeit with perceptible variations. This code is evident in his layouts of interior spaces; austere uncomplicated ‘sets’ of reality filled with enigmatic objects, doors that suddenly appear or appear to open to a void; ancient statues, ‘empty’ clothes and nights filled with visible moonlight. The purity of his surrealistic paintings is apparent in various style choices: the transcendent – metaphysical atmosphere exuding from the work stemming from source material he called the ‘Landscapes of Memory’. Distinctive characteristics of such pieces include still life, ancient architectural ruins and fragments of statues, useful everyday objects, mysterious interiors and the ‘absence’ of a human presence. Karavousis’s engraving works and designs move in similar phases as that of his progression with his paintings, holding a particular place in the artist’s visual development. His first woodcuts are dated from 1969-1970; he then worked mainly on copper engraving (using the ‘acuate’ technique) and in 1978, turning to lithography.
Sarantis Karavousis, Dilos, 1999, Oil on canvas, 56 x 71 cm