Heart of the artist is in the home

Wrapped in more myth than reality though it may be, the way artists live has always been surrounded by a certain mystique. And it is exploiting this fascination with artists’ lives that Open Art, a book recently published by Hillside Press, lays bare to the public the private domiciles of 80 Greek people from the world of the arts, mostly artists but also a number of curators and art collectors. As a coffee-table book, Open Art is filled with images in which the portrait of each artist (taken by Constantinos Costopoulos, the photographs have an edge and much humor to them) is paired with images of their own preferred space, usually their home, and includes only a small personal statement as textual support. Because of its very subject matter, the book has an immediacy and contemporary feel to it, something which Addie Kostakou, publisher of Hillside Press, believed was missing from coffee-table books published in Greece. It was out of a wish to fill this gap that Kostakou, whose publishing company specializes in books on teaching foreign languages, decided to take this new direction with art-related, coffee-table books. Still concentrating mainly on educational books, Kostakou believes that Open Art offers another way of self-education – in this case, on the subject of art. To this end, Kostakou and Haralambos Dermatis, artistic director of Hillside Press, will also organize a large exhibit in January that will also be based on the idea of artists and their space. Kostakou, who also has plans for future art-related publications, feels that Open Art is a way of bringing the broader public closer to art and giving an opportunity to young artists to make themselves known. Young artists do, in fact, take up a large part of the book and, surprisingly, are mixed together with some of the more established Greek artists of an older generation, including Nikos Kessanlis and Chronis Botsoglou. In ignoring a categorization of artists either in terms of their reputation, age or style, the book offers an unusually fresh combination, which however, seems to lack a clear focus at times. For those familiar with the work of each artist, it might be interesting to match the design and home interiors with the artist’s work. It is perhaps even more intriguing and amusing to study the character portrait of each artist and match it to the aesthetics of his environment. Open Art is a pleasant, lifestyle book to leaf through, and an implicit but telling source of information on a group in Greek society.

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