CULTURE

Enjoying the spices of art and life

His name is Michalis Lagouvardos, he is 29 years old and he is an artist. His most recent work of art seems particularly spicy. Having collected a great number of spices from all over the world, he has classified them, placed them in a library and invites visitors to Cafe 365 Art Project, located at 2 Porinou, Acropolis, to improvise. All you need is a piece of bread and some butter. It’s like a game of life, where everyone is free to make as many combinations as possible in order to find their favorite flavor. Why did you choose the title Taste Your Personal Choice No. 2? The Latin world gusto is etymologically linked to flavor. Just think of how many times during the course of a day you change your mind about what you want to eat. Given the globalization of food – through fast food for instance – do you think that spices are an endangered species? In recent years we are increasingly making high demands on food preparation and presentation, and many of the new restaurants are a proof of that. I would say that today we have greater options but I’m not sure whether we are actually taking advantage them. When did you actually develop your love for seeds? I come from a a family of agronomists. My father and two of my brothers, all of whom live in Crete, are working in the field. As a child, therefore, I was very close to developments in farming. I’m very familiar with agriculture and I also enjoy cooking very much. I believe this is not the first time you are involved with food art? The idea has been with me ever since my years at the School of Fine Arts. In 1994, in collaboration with Stelios Parliaros (founder of the Fresh pastry chain) we attempted to ‘imprint’ the history of art on sweets. The exhibition – which never took place due to its high costs – was like a pastry museum. We still have 150 to 200 molds going from the Neolithic period all the way up to the semantic art of the 1970s. There are Cycladic fertility figures and pop art objects, for instance, all made from ingredients used in pastry-making. The concept was recognized by the Spyropoulos Foundation. What about this project. Are we ever going to taste it? I hope it will one day be completed, as it shows the sense of the ephemeral which is as much an element of art as it is of life. Everything we prepare will be produced en masse for a few days, and will be advertised. In order to choose a platter, the public will choose a chronological and aesthetic trend. Once the platter is consumed the work of art will disappear. You also seem to have acquired different interests at different times. Following my studies in Athens, I went to the Netherlands for a postgraduate degree in semiotics at the Minerva Academy in Groningen. When I returned to Greece, I was one of the initial members of Papaioannou’s Omada Edafous dance troupe. Later on I started working in organizing exhibitions with the ‘Anepisimi Glossa’ (Unofficial Language) team. What are you doing now? I draw set designs. Recently I collaborated with Constantinos Yiannaris in August 15 and with Reppas and Papathanasiou in To Klama Vyike apo ton Paradiso (Tears Came from Paradise). Although not a famous painting, The Confectioner is still a pleasantly distinct work, especially when compared to Gyzis’s more academic compositions, such as his numerous still-lifes or austere allegories titled History and Harmony, or better yet, the frieze-like Apotheosis of Bavaria. It is just one example out of a broad repertoire of images richly varied, both in terms of subject-matter and style. It is also one of the many moments of inspiration in the career of an artist who mastered various artistic influences at a time of major changes in art to produce a distinct and memorable record in the history of style in Greek art.