Aris Kalaizis

Discussion about Aris Kalaizis between actress Andrea Sawatzki and Tina Simon

Andrea Sawatzki and Aris Kalaizis during the work (2011)
Andrea Sawatzki and Aris Kalaizis during the work (2011)

A short dia­log Between act­ress Andrea Sawatzki and Ger­man­ist Dr. Tina Simon about the ori­gin of the col­lab­or­a­tion between an act­ress and a painter.

Simon: Do you have a spe­cial rela­tion­ship to visu­al art? To mod­ern art? To painting?

Sawatzki: I love almost every kind of art. In my youth I loved Picasso’s Blue Peri­od. It con­soled me. Later I pre­ferred the more opu­lent works of Klimt, and then Schiele. Now I admire Richter, Rothko…and many oth­ers. I really felt access­ib­il­ity to mod­ern art dur­ing a gal­lery tour at the Leipzig Cot­ton Mill. That was an incred­ibly ful­filling exper­i­ence for me and also led to the happy cir­cum­stance that we now own a real Kalaizis!
But I have always been impressed by the old mas­ters as well. This has nev­er been lim­ited to one par­tic­u­lar epoch. After many years in which my hus­band and I col­lec­ted older works, we have been focus­ing more on mod­ern art for some time now. In any case, I have always had a pen­chant for paint­ing. Our young­est son Bruno is now prov­ing to be truly tal­en­ted and we hope to main­tain and share his enthusiasm.

TS: How did the co-oper­a­tion between your­self and Kala­izis come about – were you curi­ous or skeptical?

AS: It was clear to me from the begin­ning that I would pose for Aris someday. His paint­ings are stun­ning and mean­while we have become the proud own­ers of the paint­ing “The Day of Great Hope” (2007). My hus­band Chris­ti­an Berkel had already posed for anoth­er Kala­izis paint­ing (“Past Pres­ence Regained”, 2010). I agreed because I am a true admirer of his.

TS: How is it dif­fer­ent when your “dir­ect­or” is a paint­er? Was it as you ima­gined it would be? Or was it com­pletely different?

AS: No, it was exactly as I had ima­gined. After all, an act­or depends on his ima­gin­a­tion, on invent­ing his own story. That’s the way it was when I saw the phe­nom­en­al stage set Aris designed for “Homegrown” (2011). The fate of the woman I trans­formed into for this pic­ture unveiled itself to me imme­di­ately before my eyes. I sensed what had happened without exactly know­ing what it was. Of course, every view­er will inter­pret the work dif­fer­ently. But that is the pre­cisely the attrac­tion of Kala­izis‘ paint­ings. Aris tells stor­ies in his paint­ings, involves you in the life of vari­ous human con­flict situ­ations, and in the end gives the view­er the free­dom to find his own meaning.

TS: Were you pre­pared? Did the paint­er give you an insight into his visu­al con­struct? Or did you simply trust him? 

…as an act­ress, noth­ing can shock me anyway

AS: Aris had sent me a photo of the set and I was drawn to it imme­di­ately and in a cer­tain way I was also fore­warned, because I under­stood that some­thing ter­rible must have happened in the life of the main char­ac­ter. But still, you can keep spin­ning the story in your head and find a good end­ing for it. But I would have posed for Aris for any motif. As an act­ress, noth­ing can shock me anyway. 

TS: It isn’t a por­trait! As the main char­ac­ter in a work of art, you provide a highly charged char­ac­ter with your face and your appear­ance to cre­ate an unfore­see­able story – and that pos­sibly forever. Does that both­er you?

AS: I loan my entire body, not only my face. I always do that as an act­ress. I have to devel­op a story togeth­er with the dir­ect­or, but I have to adapt to his visu­al­iz­a­tion, his image and yet still remain aware and claim my own body lan­guage. And I like the fact that one can’t fast-for­ward me. Inter­pret­ing a work of visu­al art is left up to the view­er even more strongly than it is in the case of a film. Can you bear that?
That is the most excit­ing part. I don’t want to over­load the view­er with my own ideas but rather want to remain trans­par­ent and incite imagination

TS: You endured patiently for a long time in swel­ter­ing heat. What were you think­ing about the whole time?

AS: That I felt like con­tinu­ing to act out the life of that woman. Before or just after that moment in time. 

TS: Would you pose for oth­er artists? Or is there some­thing in Kalaizis’s work which “facil­it­ated” your co-operation? 

AS: I nor­mally make myself scarce when con­fron­ted with such requests because I can’t rid myself of the fear that some­body might only want me because they feel they can cur­rently mar­ket their work bet­ter that way. With Aris, I know that he means me, and I like the fact that he takes a long time to con­sider his paint­ings. He searched for a situ­ation for me, for a woman who essen­tially appears like me and can pos­sibly become one with me. That is a gift for me. And now I am a part of Aris’ visu­al world.

...with the son Bruno (2011)
...with the son Bruno (2011)

©Andrea Sawatzki | Tina Simon | Stef­fen Junghans (pho­tos)

Andrea Sawatzki, born 1963, is a Ger­man act­ress and author. She became known to the great­er pub­lic with her appear­ance in the 1997 film “The Phar­macist”. Fur­ther­more, she has acted in sev­er­al oth­er suc­cess­ful films such as “The Exper­i­ment” and “Leo and Claire”. She is one of the most well-known Ger­man act­resses. She lives in Ber­lin togeth­er with her hus­band Chris­ti­an Berkel and their two children.

© Aris Kalaizis 2024