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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.

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Telepainting 1959 Acrylic paint on canvas, magnets, metal, nylon thread 2800 x 6100 x 3500 mm Collection of Liliane Lijn ˝ 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

innovative sculptures.

Μusical Sphere 1985. Aluminum, polyester, cords 160 x 100 x114cm. Takis Foundation ˝ ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019.