Irini Bachlitzanaki | January 2021
Irini Bachlitzanaki (b. Athens, 1984) lives and works in London and Athens. Her practice has grown out of the exploration of the different ways in which objects carry and produce meaning and the changes in meaning, status and social significance as they transition from one context to another. Employing materials and techniques often referencing design or drawn from craft and artisanal traditions contributes to the creation of hybrid objects that aim to shift the established, commonplace relationship between form and function as hierarchies between different disciplines become ambiguous.
Through interlocking vocabularies that draw from a seemingly disparate array of sources, her recent works continue the exploration of the nature and status of the work of art in relation to everyday objects and commodities, opening up questions of value. They bring together issues of authenticity, reproducibility and the copy, and raise questions about the role of skill in art as well as the contemporary place of craft and ornament in relation both to material qualities and the social life of things. A good example is “Of all the Works of Man” a glazed earthenware embellished with patterns inspired from the ceramics of Skyros, a Greek island which boasts a strong local tradition of folk art. This work highlights the act of appropriation itself, as the famous glazed white-and-blue ceramics now associated with the island, were also based on a previous act of appropriation of foreign ceramics brought over to Skyros through trade and piracy.
The piece “Carl Schlieper Remscheid III” is a replica of sorts of cup-handle display samples manufactured by Carl Schlieper, a German hardware business from the 18th c. Drawing on the tradition of the readymade and the found object the work re-contextualises an ordinary object that is at the same time a historical artefact, exploring its shifting value, function, and social significance. Addressing ideas of authorship, reproducibility, the copy and serial production, it belongs to a body of work that aims to raise questions of value and labour in relation to the work of art reflecting on the interplay between production, consumption and display of commodities, cultural artefacts and works of art. Likewise, “Untitled (Hanger)”, another “replica”, opens up questions around the nature of art in the context of design and mass production drawing on notions of the ornamental and the decorative.
Irini Bachlitzanaki studied History of Art at UCL and Fine Art at Central Saint Martins and Chelsea College of Arts. In 2015 she had her first solo show in Athens with Elika Gallery. In 2017, having spent seven years living and working in Athens she returned to London after being offered a place in the postgraduate programme of the Royal Academy Schools. As an extension of her artistic practice she has curated a number of exhibitions and is interested in pursuing curatorial work in line with her artistic research.