The Cerebral Artist
Written by Χenia Georgiadou
Magnetic Wall 9 (Red) 1961. Acrylic paint on canvas, magnets, metal, cloth, nylon thread 180 x 220 x10 cm.
Centre Pompidou, Musee national d’art moderne – Centre de creation industrielle,
Paris ˝ ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019.
“When Man wants to conquer through Art, he has to open
himself up to all that he looks at but doesn’t see”, said the
great Greek sculptor Takis in a recent interview. And in all, this
phrase successfully captures the essence of his work, seeing
how he preoccupied himself extensively with gravity and
magnetism – both forces which exert great power upon us
yet we cannot see with the naked eye and seldom even take
the time to think about. This self-taught artist came across
the work of modernists Picasso and Giacometti at age 21.
Drawing inspiration from their singular language, he creates
his first plaster busts and clay sculptures. A few years later,
in 1953, he leaves for Paris. “Greece is a prison”, he claims.
His earlier pieces might reference Ancient Greece and
Egypt, but the bulk of his work reflects the conquests and
concerns of his time. Takis came of artistic age during a time
of sweeping social and political changes as well as rapid technological
breakthroughs. In 1955, he notices the antennae
and radars of Calais rail station, and is mesmerised by this
“iron jungle”. He proceeds to create his first “Signals”, sketching
the first draft in chalk on the station’s concrete floor. Then,
he takes his experiments further, to sound, magnetic fields
and the pull of gravity, coming up with his most renowned
pieces. Within the following years, he would stand out as one
of the most fascinating voices of the avant-garde, with the
breadth of his intellect attracting the attention and admiration
of luminaries such as Allen Ginsberg and Marcel Duchamp –
who dubbed Takis “the tireless labourer of magnetic fields”.
Using his name as its title, Takis’ retrospective at Tate Modern
takes visitors back to the artist’s exhilarating trajectory,
using 70 works to bring forward the poetry and beauty of his