Tags: creative director
Sofia approached me in a rather unique way. Usually it goes like this: you find me, you text me, we set up a date and we have our session. But Sophia insisted on grabbing some drinks first before actually doing the photo shoot. I thought that was the wisest choice one could make. It’s nice to feel relaxed with the person you are shooting. To feel like you’ve known them for at least a month and not just through a small one hour talk. I got a bit lost trying to find Tashkeel – she insisted we did the shoot in the art space she is now using as her workshop. But after many angry looks from the driver and a lot of stressing over the sun setting, leaving slim to none natural light, I entered one of the most fascinating places I have visited in Dubai up until now. Artists from different practices, art laboratories and infrastructure that makes the Picasso in you jump up and down, all found their spot in Tashkeel. And so did Sofia Chatzisaranti.
Tell me a little bit on how you decided to join the school of fine arts.
Ever since I remember myself, I paint. As a child, I remember spending the evenings together with my grandmother, the family member with artistic interests, painting either through observation or fictional creatures; she was definitely my inspiration. When I grew up and became a teenager, I enrolled in the local painting school. Soon, my teacher diagnosed my talent and proposed me to consider studying in the Fine Arts school.
What is the most vivid memory you have of your years in Thessaloniki?
I was fortunate to study in Thessaloniki, this beautiful and vibrant city. Experimental theater, alternative parties in industrial places, cooperation with my fellow students.
How long have you been here?
I have been in UAE since 2004 and In Dubai the last three years.
Do you like it? What do you miss from back home?
I love Dubai; the Middle East colors match with me so well. Of course, as with humans, for each new place you must allow for time to discover its corners, colors and smells. You must love the place in order to love you back. What I miss in Dubai is the walking, especially during the summer. Greece is my country and I consider it as the world’s most beautiful place. I do miss things and people, however, not with the sick meaning of the word. I am definitely, not a home-sick.
You decided to re-dedicate yourself you your art, after some years pause when you gave birth to your son. How is the comeback going on so far?
The come-back is always hard irrespective of the context. In the arts it is even harder since apart from re-possessing the skills, you have to find the mood to express the vibration of the times. However, it is always a challenging process from which you can learnt a lot…An artist is both blessed and cursed to remain loyal to this.
Is your son’s imagination inspiring? Has the way you perceived art changed?
My son is an inspiration for me. It is so beautiful to see the world from the children perspective. Being an experienced arts teacher, I was waiting for the moment my son would be in position to communicate with me artistic matters. The way he approaches arts (painting) is pure manner of expression (primitive); usually artists reach at this stage after a lot of years of experience. I believe that he has affected me indirectly in the sense that I must enjoy painting!
What will happen to all the work I’ve seen in your space at Tashkeel, will you have an exhibition?
Most of my work is at an experimental level, e.g. the ink sketches form the basis of an installation with projector and vertical hanging surfaces layered in the space, which is under preparation. Soap sculptures will be part of this installation. I have approached two galleries of my style, level and aesthetics; once my cycle is complete, I will be ready to exhibit.
Do you have your own art pieces at home as well?
My house is decorated with my work. I do have pieces of works from artists that I appreciate however I am not a collector.
How long have you been here in Tashkeel? How has this process changed you or opened new doors to you?
I am relatively new in Tashkeel, i.e. more or less one year. My space is all I ever wanted. Apart from the facilities, there is a huge library with scarce art books. In addition, I interact with renowned artists sharing the same place. Tashkeel has opened my horizons and brought me in contact with art people. What really makes me happy is the fact that I am appreciated by much esteemed artists.
How the Middle East affected your work?
The artist must adapt to its environment since this is a major factor affecting his work. I find very interesting the wonderful Islamic art patterns. They are interesting both as a technique and as a symbol and it is in my intention to attend seminars for the Islamic art. Their alphabet as well as the direction of reading, from right to left, is equally important. Middle East has a calligraphy tradition; I am interested in its modern version, the calligrafity. I am privileged to interact with well-known artists who affected my work. Another feature of Middle East, which I like, is the ohra color of the sand, which I intend to use in my future work.
You are very fashion conscious. Who would be your favorite designer?
I was always flirting with fashion, not in the narrow meaning of the word, the ephemeral or trendy. As far as I am concerned, fashion is an experiment game. I remember spending hours in vintage stores in Thessaloniki and discover treasures. The designer that I appreciate for their works are Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Vivian Westwood, Christopher Kane, Kokosalaki, Hussein Chalayan and Krystyna Kozhoma. However, there are many Greek designers that are really good. I believe that Greek designers combine art, tuition, aesthetics and education. I do appreciate the experimental attempts and their artistic approach.
What is the best place to shop in Dubai?
In addition to the huge malls, there are other interesting and promising shopping corners in Dubai. There you can find vintage treasures as well as ethnic garments and jewelries from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nepal. In addition there are pop up stores which are becoming popular in Dubai.
Places for visiting?
I would suggest visiting Madinat Souk, Al Fahidi neighborhood, Heritage village and JBR.
You can reach Sofia here.
A few comments on the things pictured above:
Many thanks to Tashkeel for having us over. / Sofia is a huge fan of ΣΟΜΦ. Her floor gymnastics outfit and the laser cut skirt are both pieces of the Athenian label. / I think the guard and cleaning staff of Tashkeel thought we were out of our minds. But they made sure not to comment about it. / The amazing blue and white dress is by Stella Mc Cartney. I cannot even describe the beauty of that dress. / The white T-shirt she’s pairing with the leather skirt actually belongs to her son. And the watch to her husband. / I feel blessed. Because imatiothiki in Dubai is opening a whole new world to me. And that includes Sofia’s heart of gold.