Costas Varotsos is one of the most significant exponents of contemporary sculpture, whose monumental sculptures adorn public spaces in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus and the USA. His work is defined by his own personal style and quality, gaining through the transparency and reflections of the glass the great respect and appreciation of the public.
Wind and wave, presence and absence, matter and space – these mark Costas Varotsos’ latest work. This is sculptural storytelling, reflecting the continuity of the artist’s vision over time. From the early 1970s to date, he has been firmly on a path of constant redefinition in search of originality. His aim has been to provide both challenge and pleasure for viewers. His sculpture idiom directly emphasises visible space, form and content, and explores the aesthetic experience. The speed of his production process is astonishing – it takes only a few months for the artist to complete a monumental installation; yet, it is always supported by meticulous research, planning, and study. Achille Bonito Oliva points out that Varotsos’ work ‘restores the quality of integration inherent in Greek tradition, in which the architect did not only design space to be inhabited by humans or by the gods, but also incorporated in his design history and geography, environmental and atmospheric factors...’ (Varotsos, Futura Books, Athens 2005)
From early on, he opted for simple form, eliminating complexity of meaning and symbol. Seeking a harmonious relation with its environment, his work is closely linked to architecture. He works mainly in glass and iron, using straight and curved lines, focusing on the process of making, on the fluidity of shaping, on the precision of balance and measure in installation. His daring interventions interrogate the future of sculpture. In La Morgia, in the Appenine Mountains, for instance, a monumental sculptural installation broke the silence of the natural landscape, disturbing its tranquillity. Marked by expressive austerity, geometric development, and transparency, this sculpture installation directly captures a visual impression of serenity and rigor. Moreover, it recalls historical memory: This area was bombed by the Nazis in World War II, as it was the hideout of Italian Resistance fighters. Notably, workers and farmers from more than 30 villages in the region volunteered to make this monumental intervention possible.
The artist’s persistent concerns are achieving the ideal texture, elegance of line; creating a different kind of horizon, another sense of freedom. At the same time, his personal approach reflects, his concern, not only with the pictorial effect of his pieces, but also with the viewer’s position, apparent in Horizon in La Morgia, and Disembarkation – A Work on Migrating Humanity in Otranto, Puglia. The latter was inspired by the tragic sinking of a ship carrying Albanian migrants, in the Adriatic Sea – a monumental work that reflects the pain and the hopes of people forced to flee their country in search of a better life. Never provoking through complexity of articulation, Varotsos makes for powerful and bold aesthetic experiences, serching for the essential through restraint and austerity.
In his body of work, Varotsos renders the essential in three-dimensional form, evoking a poetic sculptural world. In a dreamlike mood, he makes his favourite medium come alive through his imagination, working over the course of some 40 years to achieve a different gleam of glass. Simplicity, austerity, essence, all inform his work, in which the earth, the sky, and the sea are captured in a non-descriptive manner through the infinite power of freedom. Varotsos arrives at a personal sculptural identity through absolute light. In this way, he heightens our sensitivity, with the immediate consent of the spirit, reflecting Elytis’s words: ‘Behind the fragmentary surface of phenomena, there is an enduring permanence, reflecting the flow of another, truer life, in which the weight of things, their importance, shifts in a way that often proves gold worthless and soil valuable.’ The art of Varotsos charts a new path in global contemporary art explorations, possessing all qualities required to make it universal and timeless.
Visual Arts Director of the
B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Αrts and Music