#AnInterview: George Kanis, 30 years old , born and raised in Chios island, is a visual artist based in Athens, Greece. In his work he follows his primal instincts and it seems like he is never led astray. Is it pornography or is it art? It is both, at the same time, and that’s good so. Fall in love with his vision of queer Athens and his defining nudes.
KB: Where would you say you get inspiration from for your work?
George: My inspiration comes firstly as a primal instinct. I see people and objects that I can see or find myself in their details and that makes me feel sensitive and sometimes sensual.
Through the years, I have been a huge fan of Nan Goldin , Mapplethrope , John Waters , Bruce Labruce and so many others.
I started painting abstract feelings and tried to incorporate the aesthetics of the artists that touched me the most, into my work. Then I turned to photography and video and used them as a medium to create my own aesthetics, define what is beautiful on my own terms.
I have also been involved with architecture- interior design and product design but through my journey photography has won me by far. I am simply in love with photography.
KB: Are the people you shoot friends? Or strangers? How easy is it finding models to shoot?
George: Mostly, the people I use in my photo shoots are my friends but sometimes they happen to be strangers also. When I see somebody in the streets and they fit my current project, I ask them to be part of it. It’s a matter of interaction and “timing”, and basically how I see myself in them. If they are not interested, I leave it there and I forget it in a moment. Though many times, when I photograph someone I hardly know after the shooting we become “friends” somehow.
In Greece it is tough to find the ones that fit my vision . Either they are shy cause they don’t want to show their face or they view nude strictly as pornography in a bad way. The Greeks can’t understand that pornography is art.
The last two years, I always receive messages from strangers that want me to take their photos but I always refuse. And that’s because 90% of them are simply looking for a hook up and they see no art in what I do. So, it’s extremely difficult for me to find the proper models.
KB: What would you say has shaped your aesthetics?
George: My childhood is 60% of what has shaped my aesthetics and the rest are my studies, my research, the years, and non-stop work.
I always felt I don’t belong anywhere, I couldn’t fit or attach myself to a group or a family. So I became the man I am on my own. At first, I got attached to art and then with the first love of my life and started creating my own family that I am really proud of.
My aesthetics may not have changed through the years but my work always evolves like a growing organism and it always depends on my feelings to be nurtured and fed.
KB: Is there anything you would never agree to photograph? Why or why not?
George: Well, I never do documentary- sports – news – events photography or whatever can be named as a paid job that doesn’t represent me. I want to stay focused on my projects and on my purpose, so I choose the hard way of working. I always prefer not having a penny in my pocket rather than do anything that I feel am gonna regret since it doesn’t fit my work nor my aesthetics.
Few months ago, I started doing some portrait work of young artists and musicians here in Athens for a local magazine, for free. It’s just that I felt the need to help young Greek creative people to promote their work . That’s something I wouldn’t normally do, but I thought the younger artists need as much more support as they can get.
KB: What are you working on at the moment?
George: I have several projects running at the time. Most are photography projects, few short movies and some mixed media paintings. They are all pornography in my own way and they are taking place strictly in Athens with mostly queer models.