Yanni Floros‘ charcoal work is life like. It’s intriguing. By hiding the faces of his work he imbues each piece with a depth of emotion that calls to the viewer. Check out his interview:
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Yanni Floros. I’m an Adelaide based Australian artist. I trained as an artist at the national Art School in Sydney and I work primarily in charcoal.
In your CV you state that your work focuses on the pursuits of man and how these pursuits impact our development. How do you think the pursuits of man change from youth to adulthood? How have the pursuits of man changed in the last 50 years? As our society develops scientifically, morally, and artistically how have our pursuits changed?
Along the way I think a lot of people get confused with what they want out of life. As a child you dream about the things you want and want to do, as an adult you have the chance to live those dreams but many of us don’t or are too afraid to.
Technologically speaking, many things have changed in the last fifty years, the most significant is the fact that everyone now has a computer or access to one. The pursuit for ultimate knowledge and power through science and therefore technology has completely dominated our lives. The changes I alone have seen in my short time are almost unbelievable.
How do you think technology has robbed us of our humanity? Do you think technology is a corrupting force or is it possible that the luxuries and capabilities afforded us by technology makes it easier for us to give in to our own demons?
I have only postulated the question ‘has it robbed us’. If we delve deeper, technology could never do that to us, only we could by it’s utter misuse. In no way is technology a corrupting force, it’s an amazing thing that can do wonders and harm but only when weilded as such. The question is, can we control our desire for control? It’s much easier to push a button for a bomb than it is to be on the battlefield with a sword. You don’t even need to see the destruction.
Why have you chosen to depict your subjects without their faces, whether they be facing away, off to the side, or wearing something that covers the face?
In a way, the work I have done over the last two years has reflected what I’ve been feeling. The end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 was an especially tough time. Having said that, overall my work is about loss of identity and isolation which is exactly what’s happening to us the more we use technology.
Your work makes use of negative space quite frequently, how do you hope the viewer to react to such a stark distinction between the human subjects and the white space that they exist within?
It’s interesting that people have pointed that out. I mentioned before that it’s part of being ‘isolated’ but, looking back I have always left a lot of the page white because I find it forces the viewer to interact more with the work by using their imagination. It is also aesthically pleasing and clean.
At the National Art School in Sydney what different media did you experiment with? How were they freeing and constricting? What about charcoal on paper made it so appealing that you decided to focus on it?
At art school we experimented with pretty much everything. Painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography and printmaking, then different techniques within all of those disciplines. I was drawn to sculpture and drawing. I loved bronze casting. I had a soft spot for ceramics and photography but didn’t choose the latter because it was so costly and I wanted to use my hands more. Ideally, I’d like to set up a studio where I’d be able to do all these things. One day. Charcoal on paper is primal. Basic hand to page marking. That is very appealing to me. I don’t have to think about anything else. It’s such a beautiful medium when used well and has an unbelievable range.
Among the pursuits your work addresses are both war and medicine, the former through your depiction of weaponry, and the latter through the series on what seem to be surgeons, doctors in scrubs wielding scalpels. How do you think the two are related? Do you think the development of one is intrinsically related to the other? Do you think they are both human instincts, not just violence, but the development of large scale weapons, and not just health but the desire to extend life, to challenge the very biological forces that inhibit immortality?
I was not consciously aware of the link when I produced the work but yes, war and medicine are definitely related and are at the forefront of progress. Things are changing daily in those areas. Medicine has benefited greatly from war as bad as that sounds. Fighting is something we have all grown up with and will always be there, as is sickness which is where the medicine comes in. We all want to live a little longer, possibly indefinitely. If there was a pill that gave you an extra 50 years on your life, who wouldn’t take it?
Your more recent work is a series of women, both their hair and clothing have been awarded a great deal of attention, why have you chosen to focus on these two facets rather than their faces? What kind of allure or mystique are you aiming for by hiding the subject’s face?
It’s nice that those drawings have been recieved so well. They started from a tough time and from deep personal meaning. The first girl I drew was part of the ‘Head’ series which involved the firefighter among others. I didn’t want the viewer to be distracted by the face so I used the clothing and hair to allude to what was going on on the inside, also the imagination can create a more beautiful face than anyone can, so I left it up to the viewer to decide what’s beautiful.
What do the headphones in your work represent? There is clearly a disconnect between the viewer and the subject, her back is turned, her ears are covered and for the most part she is entirely shielded, by hair and clothing, from the viewer’s eye, what are you trying to say about relationships with this? How quickly and deeply do you think people can judge one another upon first meeting?
Like I said in the previous question, the first girl had deep personal meaning regarding my experience in past relationships. I channeled what I was feeling at the time into the context of my work. Most of the time this happens subconciously and others you’re well aware of the reasons. Those girls reflect a complete isolation from the world around them. Completely immersed in their own world and the music they’re listening to. They say you can usually know what someone is like within the first 5 minutes of meeting them but I don’t truly believe that. We’ve all had those first meetings where things didn’t go as planned.
What’s next? What are you interested to begin or excited to finish right now?
The next series of drawings has been on my mind for about a year now. It’s taken some time to get it together because of what’s involved but when I do, I think people will really like it. I have another solo show at Scott Livesey Galleries in Melbourne in September which will be mostly current work with some new stuff.
What was the last thing, music, video, book, or really anything, that inspired you? Why did it fire you up so much, what was your emotional response and what did you do with the energy you got?
Not really any of those things. I just keep thinking about how far I can push my art and where I can go with it and that keeps me excited and motivated. People’s positve response to the work is also a great motivator.