Yannis Papadopoulos’ new work is the culmination of a dialogue between the artist and printmaker Vasso Katraki (1914-1988). Papadopoulos dedicated several months to studying Katraki’s life and work: he visited her birthplace Aitoliko whilst during the gestation of his project he was in constant communication with Katraki’s daughter, researching into her personal archive. Like a storyteller who narrates only a part of a wider story only he knows, Papadopoulos chose to focus on the artist’s lesser-known works, gathering together a series of her wooden printing-plates, archival material and curtains designed by Katraki herself.
Printing-plates are the material (wood, copper, stone) an artist uses to print out an artwork. Each colour printed needs its own matrix. For her coloured prints, Katraki used to engrave both sides of a plate. Papadopoulos in his installation presents a series of double-sided printing-plates horizontally, revealing only their one side. People Descended from Trees and Deer is a subtle balancing act, where Papadopoulos effectively creates a support or display system for the presentation of exactly these wooden printing-plates, the archival material he collected and the curtains (reprinted for and adapted to the installation for the the exhibition Being as Communion). In this idiosyncratic artistic dialogue, Katraki’s hands and tools are evident, by contrast, Papadopoulos positions his work in such a way that the boundaries between curation, stage-design and artistic practice are blurred. His intention though is clear, a fresh understanding of Vasso Katraki’s work seen through his own personal perspective, influenced by their shared origins from the Greek periphery, Western Greece in particular (Papadopoulos from the city of Patras, Katraki from Aitoliko), as well as their interest working in and around nature.
Returning to the concept of the periphery―a central theme of People Descended from Trees and Deers, Papadopoulos presents us with a visual essay, based on his study of Katraki: the materials she used, her hometown, as well as the broader context of Katraki’s artistic practice. Using the methodology both of a scientist (Papadopoulos studied Mathematics at the University of Patras, before enrolling at the Athens School of Fine Arts, and then moving to the Netherlands to study visual arts) as well as that of a visual arts researcher.
Papadopoulos considers the practice of printing-making a cultural ‘event’, keen on exploring the fundamentals of print-making: the technique, the pressure of a printing press on paper as well as exploring the historical and cultural conditions, and the wider context of the creation of an artwork. Drawn to the microclimate of the Aitoliko lagoon and how it affected Katraki’s engravings, the ways in which the volatile condition of this large expanse of water―an endless interface of water and land―the production of art outside of an urban center and the daily contact with nature and how that might have influenced her choices of subject matter, materials, and methods of production.