The magnetism of Takis

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Once, while he was waiting for the train from Paris to London, Panayoitis Vassilakis, Takis (1925-2019) felt the spark of a lightbulb turn on in his mind; he was awestruck by the endless choreography of signals, noises and intermittent lights that surrounded him. That’s how this self-taught artist moved from the influence of classical sculpture rooted in his home country, Greece, or the impact of artists he admired, such as Picasso or Giacometti, to create his own artistic language. A language in which his sculptures made of long, flexible rods, lights, lead weights, gongs or guitar strings are moved by air or magnets; they produce sounds, vibrating and articulating like transmitters of some particular kind of energy.

A revolution in the history of sculpture

“Plato speaks of an artist turning the invisible world into the visible. I hope that someone seeing my sculpture is lifted out of his ordinary state.”

Fusing art, nature, music and science into his sculptures, Takis seized the opportunity to develop

a completely new approach. The existence of magnetic energy fields is made evident by the apparent magic of making objects float in mid air. Electricity, as something invisible, also serves to reveal electromagnetic, mechanical, light and acoustic energies; it speaks to us about the forces of nature, earth currents and the cosmos.

What’s captivating about Takis’s experimentations is that, as we observe them, these pieces take us beyond material limits, helping us to appreciate and better understand our surroundings, to realise that what is invisible is immensely greater than what is visible in this universe.

Energy that can be seen and heard

In his sculptures, Takis brings together the elements and conditions necessary so that in a game of attraction and repulsion, all the objects (metals, cords, electro-magnets…) start to dance. Hostages to the forces of nature, they float, push each other, make sounds and become tense, offering a genuine spectacle in which the invisible energies behind a mysterious and vibrant music are not only seen but also heard.

Takis’s aim is to reveal these unseen forces, such as electricity, magnetism and gravity, all of which make our very existence possible.

Exhibition: Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA) is showing Takis from 22 November to 19 April 2020. The same exhibition was previously presented at Tate Modern, London and will travel from Barcelona to Greece, fitting tribute to this groundbreaking artist who died on 9 August this year. 

Photography: Oscar Rivilla

Translation: Rebekah Jane Rhodes

Music: Dr Symptosizer

Art Direction: Oscar Rivilla & Carolina Verd

Special collaboration: Oliva Illumination

Fashion: Jackets and sneakers by Diadora courtesy of Globally