Vasso Fragkou: The Waves of Our Imagination
Exploring The Ceramic Narrative
© Vasso Fragkou, Vasso with her clay sculpture. Source: vassofragkou
The artistic work of the Greek sculptor Vasso Fragkou confirms the idea of simplicity being the ultimate elegance. Inspired by the sea and all organic forms, Vasso's clay sculptures have become a staple in the contemporary art scene and have already traveled the world! They have been commissioned and exhibited in Cyprus, Taiwan, China, France, the USA, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Greece, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Russia, Italy, and South Korea.
Interested in the third dimension, Vasso plays with the material's static and waiving arrangements to create an illusion of movement. The attentive observer has a chance to get absorbed by the waves, contemplating the multitude of constructions that capture him in a sort of maze. This immersive experience makes us become active participants, as our memories, thoughts, and feelings create a personal meaning.
© Vasso Fragkou, Waves, Wall-mounted ceramic sculpture placed on ceramic board 148 x 47 x 12 cm. Source: https://www.vassofragkou.com/
© Vasso Fragkou, Out of the blue, Wall mounted ceramic sculpture placed on wooden board 135 x 78 x 16 cm. Source: https://www.vassofragkou.com/
Vasso, could you tell us about how did it all start, your adventures with sculpture, and what led you to become an artist?
Ever since I can remember, art has been the only way to express my feelings. I could create a world full of colors and forms I would like to live in; it was my escape room. My dream at the time was to become a fashion designer, so I started studying fashion design, but then I realized that painting was the only part that I was really enjoying. Therefore, I quit fashion design and went to Art and design college. Because I was always impressed by the third dimension, I started adding fabrics and objects on the top of my painting surfaces. It was a great inspiration for me, the American artist Robert Rauschenberg and Pop Art.
© Vasso Fragkou, painting and mixed media
Charlene, 1954, Robert Rauschenberg. Source: https://www.aparences.net/art-contemporain/neo-dada/robert-rauschenberg-entre-figuration-et-abstraction/
In the final semester, I decided to create sculptures from various materials. Then I realized that I was highly impressed by the third dimension, but I didn’t know which material to use. After my studies, I went to San Gimignano in Italy, and when I visited the shop Carpe Diem, I saw the potential of clay. That magical moment gave me a strong willingness to learn more about that fantastic material. I will always be grateful to Carpe Diem; it changed my life.
© Vasso Fragkou, sculptures with mixed media
You have studied ceramics in Italy and the U.K. Why ceramics and not some other material?
After visiting Carpe Diem, I found out that I would like to study ceramics, and I decided to go to Italy. I took some lessons in Scuola di Ceramica "Romano Ranieri" in Deruta, but I wanted to learn how to create those ceramics that I had seen in Carpe Diem. So I visited the factory making those beautiful ceramics, and they told me that they were giving lessons. I was more than happy, and I was looking forward to starting the classes, but due to the economic crisis, the factory closed.
After a while, I found out that the factory opened again, but they didn't provide classes anymore. It was cooperating with a ceramic Scuola in Montelupo Fiorentino, and for the last three months of the course, you could work in this factory for your practice. So I went to Montelupo Fiorentino, and for a few months, I was waiting to start the lessons, but again, due to the economic crisis, the classes didn’t start. I had a series of unfortunate events, but now I am happy about that because, without those, I wouldn’t have gone to the UK to study ceramics. This decision changed my perspective on art, and this is where I found my true love: my forms.
© Vasso Fragkou: Veil, ceramic sculpture mounted onto wooden board 80 x 44 x 18 cm. Source: https://www.vassofragkou.com/
Clay is a fantastic material, and its potential is numerous! There are so many types of clay, firing kilns, glazes, techniques and forms, which I am looking forward to explore in the future. I feel like a child playing next to the sea with the sand every time I use clay. I am becoming an adult again in all the other things you need to do, which are the most time-consuming process, but those few moments are totally worth it.
© Vasso Fragkou, sculptures with clay
Can we say that harmony and balance play a central role in your sculpture creations? I can understand that your inspiration comes from organic forms (I also recognize female figures in your sculptures, a sort of dance), so would it be reasonable to state that your choice of flowing forms is based on a contradiction between the stillness of clay and the movement of the wave?
My motivation to start creating is my willingness to touch the images that I have inside me. I need to release myself by giving form to my emotions, memories, and experiences. I have always been impressed by abstract sculptures with flowing forms. In my work, I am trying the static structure of the material to conflict with the sculpture’s tendency to wave in space, creating illusions.
© Vasso Fragkou: Aurora, detail, ceramic sculpture mounted onto wooden board 120 x 80 x 26 cm. Source: https://www.vassofragkou.com/
© Vasso Fragkou: The Absence, Wall-mounted ceramic sculpture placed on a ceramic board 115 x 64 x 21 cm. Source: https://www.vassofragkou.com/
Could you imagine creating any other forms besides waves, and if yes, what would those be?
I have been interested in more geometrical forms lately, and maybe my forms will start changing shape. Those forms probably will be a combination of curves and angles. I am still working on it, and there is nothing to share yet, but I will soon.
What are your projects with metal? From what I was able to see, you have started exploring this material recently?
For the last few years, I have been cooperating with Iarts decor gallery in Taiwan, and we are working on projects for outdoor metal sculptures. My dream came true, as I always wanted to see my form on a bigger scale. The clay needs to get in the kiln, and the size of your sculptures depends on your kiln dimensions. I have no access to such a big kiln to create significant scale ceramic sculptures, but I wish to achieve this in the future. That would be amazing.
Also, clay is a fragile material, and it is not ideal for outdoor sculptures. Metal is a good choice. I am using clay to create the maquettes on which the outdoor forms are based on.
Vasso Fragkou: outdoor metal sculptures in China. Source: https://www.vassofragkou.com
To better understand your artistic vision, I would love to know who are the artists that inspire you the most ?
Naum Gabo, Richard Serra, Tony Cragg, Max bill, Barbara Hepworth, Zaha Hadid, and many other admirable artists from every field inspire me. I believe that my true inspiration comes from where I was born. I grew up in Greece, where you could stare at the magnificent view of the sea. The sea knows how to clean your mind and discharge you when you need it. You feel calm by hearing its sound and staring at its colors. So does clay. I give form to my energy and intensity through clay by creating ceramic sculptures that look like calm or rough seas.
© Vasso Fragkou, sea waves. Source: @vassofragkou
Would you consider yourself a minimalist?
My forms are too complicated to place in a minimalistic area. I would say that they belong to the contemporary field. They are abstract forms inspired by nature, and they have conceptual meaning.
And how do you view aesthetics?
The aesthetic is something very personal and unique. It depends on the images you are absorbing every day and the value of all those images that you keep putting consequently in your subconscious. Balance and harmony dictate the movement of my forms and specify when a project has taken its final form. The sculpture is completed when I feel a sense of calm and deep peace viewing my work. I would like the people who are standing in front of my sculptures to absorb this feeling in its subconscious.
Your sculptures have been commissioned by private dwellers, hotels, and resorts worldwide and exhibited in galleries. What makes you happier in this sense: exposing sculptures to the public, or their "new personalized lives" in private homes, as staple pieces of interior design?
Vasso's sculpture as part of interior design in Amara Hotel, Limassol, Cyprus. Source: @vassofragkou
Vasso's sculpture as part of interior design, private collection in Taipei,Taiwan. Source: @vassofragkou
My aim remains the same: to give form to my emotions with the hope of my effort to touch the observer. It is so inspiring when people contact me to express their feelings about my work, and there are no words to express how wonderful I feel in those moments, and this happens mostly when the sculptures exist in a public area. But when you exhibit in a general area, many people will see your work even if they don’t want to. When I am creating commissions for people who are meant to see my work every day, and it is their choice, that is stunning.
What would be your favorite work up to this day?
I had created a rectangle synthesis, but after firing, the forms changed, and they couldn’t fit the one next to the other. So I had to place them differently. I was struggling for many days without any exciting results. So I went for a walk to clear my mind, it was so quiet around 3 a.m., and when I returned without second thoughts, some vital energy forced my hand to place the curves in the right places, and in less than 5 minutes, I had in front of me my favorite synthesis. It was a magical moment. I love this sculpture.
© Vasso Fragkou, The missing piece, https://www.vassofragkou.com
Where do you see yourself professionally in the upcoming future ?
I miss painting, so I would like to be able to combine sculpting and painting in the future.
Is there any message you would like to leave to emerging artists pursuing their careers?
I would say not to give up when there are difficulties; those difficulties are there to understand better what you genuinely want. Always look on the bright side of life; this is my motto. After a while, you will see that everything happened for a good reason, but you need to work a lot to achieve that good part. Art is a passion, and when you are going to sleep after an arduous work in your studio and can’t wait to wake up in the morning to start creating again, this is a good side that you are in the right place. It is essential to absorb any information around you and collect as many images as possible. But the most important thing is not to be afraid of exposing your work and thoughts. Take your risks and seize the day.
© Vasso Fragkou, Vasso at Skiathos island, Greece. Source: @vassograkou
More information about the artist:
Amazing, so interesting.
A visual delight!
Magnifiquement écrit, art féminin et élégant. J'ai apprecie artiste subtile approche de la création du formes qui présenterait sa reflexion architecturale et sa pratique esthétique.