Costas Picadas: worlds inside us

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Roxanne Vardi

Costas Picadas is a Greek artist who currently lives and works in New York. Picadas studied fine arts and art history at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Louvre School in Paris, and has exhibited his works internationally at biennales, festivals, and galleries in Athens, Paris, Avignon, Amsterdam, and New York. Picadas’ works and art practice come from an awareness that we share a deep essence which is encoded in all organisms. Just like the mycelial networks hold the soil, the plants, and the trees together, humans share a practice of respiration which in the artist’s words allows us to stay grounded on this planet.

Niio Art recently published Picadas’ new solo show titled World Inside Us composed of works from his Microbiomes. We sat down with Costas to discuss this latest project and his motivations to affect his viewers with this series.

Explore the work of Costas Picadas on Niio

Can you elaborate on the different technological tools used in the creation of your artworks? What is the balance that you use between found imagery and live documentation?

I work with many different techniques, I work with photography, painting, and drawing. I use new technologies like After Effects and augmented reality, and I am still investigating new technologies. But these are only tools, the essence of goal is in my concept. It’s important for me to have a very structured idea, and the tools are there in the service of my idea. The same goes for found imagery as opposed to images that I create. A good example is my inspiration from science. A few years ago, I was invited to give a lecture at the immunology department of Mount Sinai hospital where I expressed my interest in healing and met some very interesting scientists. They were kind enough to give me some medical slides of microscopic images with which I could recreate images combining nature and medical science. Through my concept I aim to blend images of nature with those of human biology in order to ascertain the existing underlying similarities in both ecosystems.

“I am very interested in the concept of art healing.”

Costas Picadas, 4K – MICROBIOMES 4, 2023.

Your artworks show a deep understanding and interest in the study of nature. Can you please explain how this came about in your art practice?

Since I was a kid I was living the life of a saint and religion, I was intrigued by how these people become phenomena in healing themselves and other people. I was questioning how this is possible? Then I started to understand how ecosystems, like forests for example are completely autonomous and know how to heal themselves, reproduce themselves, and regenerate themselves which is the cycle of nature. We see the four seasons, we see the beginning, the end, the cycles. We have the human body that is born and dies. But nature regenerates itself in cycles, and I was fascinated by that. While walking one day I heard whispers from a tree, and I became interested in how an ecosystem knows how to live, die, and regenerate. The idea of how a given ecosystem can have these powers inspired the investigation in my own work.  Moreover, I was curious about how art as part of human expression could possess this healing process, and how this aspect could possibly be transferred to our own bodies. 

Costas Picadas, 4K – MICROBIOMES 1, 2023.

Your new series of works Biomes may remind some of paintings by artist Georgia O’Keeffe where we find a tension between abstraction and depictions of the natural world. Is it right to read your works in this way and how would you place your artistic practice within the trajectory of art history?

My new works Biomes are inspired by the seven Biomes that exist on our planet. One biome for example is the ecosystem of the forest, the second is the desert, third is the coral reef. In my works you will see many representations of coral branches breathing inside of their own ecosystem. 

Of course, my works do have a fleeting connection to the images of Georgia O’Keeffe as well as other artists working with abstracted imagery. Every artist has a uniqueness but at the same time we are all connected. We may even be investigating the same things but we express them in different ways. We are all human beings expressing ourselves with the tools that we have as people. We express things with the tools that we have as human beings, but we use these tools in different ways. We investigate who we are and what life is. In human history we started expressing ourselves, eons ago. Art history demonstrates the uniqueness of what we have created. I don’t create art to become the history of art, I create art because I am interested in human nature and human life. You need centuries to define what has become important, you need distance from it. It’s all about consciousness. Technology changes now more than ever. We have the accumulation of knowledge. Artists of my era and I use what is new. 500 years from now, my work is going to be understood in terms of a cave painting. It’s something that we cannot even imagine. To say that my art will be part of art history we will need to see it from a distance.

Costas Picadas, 4K – MICROBIOMES 2, 2023.

Can you please dive deeper into your interest in the analogies of the human body and natural forms found in our outside surroundings?

Whatever exists in the universe is one energy, it’s the same energy. We investigate what we see on this planet. This planet started creating microorganisms and developed this nature. Only after many eons did humans come to this planet. Everything is connected in this same energy. Like you see in the forest, the whole forest is connected through fungi, through the mycorrhizal network, which is similar to what happens in the human brain. This energy represents very similar forms such as a tree, a human being, an animal. All the forms that we see are very similar to the brain and the human body because it’s the same energy and the same forms. What I am trying to achieve with my works is to emphasize this consciousness that we are very similar and connected. People living in big cities, multiply. The human population doubled in the last forty years. Seventy percent of the population is suffering from depression. People get sick, there is no room in hospitals, and there are not enough doctors so what is the point. We have to understand our nature and our connection to nature. Why is the forest not depressed? Because it knows how to heal itself. As human beings we forget that we have the most developed brain and we forget how to deal with these things so we just get sick. I try to create comfort zones where people can see images of the human body and of nature and become more conscious of their own healing abilities.

“All the forms that we see are very similar to the brain and the human body because it’s the same energy and the same forms.”

Costas Picadas, 4K – MICROBIOMES 9, 2023.

As an artist who has worked with many different mediums from painting to photography to video art could you please provide your assessment of the digital arts and its potential to discuss complex subject matters and to reach wider audiences?

I think people are more and more interested in seeing a moving image, they like that experience and simulation. Technology is still relatively new, so people might think ‘oh this is not art’ but this is the same thing people said about photography years ago. I think people are more sensitive to the way we live today we think that we don’t have time to do many things. So, the more direct the message, the better it captures the attention of the public. Therefore, for me technology is a great tool. It’s an important tool. It’s very direct and captures people’s attention.

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