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In the simplest of terms, We see a statement of independence and free will. There is an emancipation of thought, ideas bounding towards chaos but carefully symphonized by the demands of the human form. The only guidepost for understanding Evangelatos may be the purpose of emotion prevalent within the pieces and the beauty of simple things, the things that don’t disappear, not even in the worst of times.
This page is devoted to a man we've come to respect immensely.
To know the impossible beauty of Zante may give some hint as to the kind of creative spirits it gives birth to. Zante is an island of the Ionian Sea noted for its Venetian history and architecture.
The buildings and small streets are quaint and picturesque, but it is the crystal blue waters and dramatic ruggedness of its Western shores that draw visitors to a sense of absolute liberation and freedom of being. It was to this peaceful island that Gregoris Evangelatos was born.
Zante is a magical place, and anyone might suppose a childhood there would be full of all the wonders and adventure a little boy could ever ask for. But a short time after his arrival the serenity and freedom would vanish under the treads of German tanks, by an ensuing civil war and ultimately a military junta ending in 1974.
In Athens alone, over 300,000 people died of starvation during the German occupation. In the aftermath a civil war between communist and pro-democratic forces caused the relocation of over 1 million people.
The remaining communist threat ultimately paved the way for a military Junta to take power, during which time thousands of Greeks suspected of anti-government leanings were imprisoned or otherwise caused to disappear. Many things vanished during this time, but one thing that did not was Gregoris and the youth, creativity and a sense of wonder that remained locked within his heart and mind.
To look at a man who has seen so much, and yet still finds the beauty of life is a humbling experience. So I felt compelled to ask him a few questions about how his experiences find expression through his art:
Pete: Can you explain your art? What goes through your mind when you are making something? What drives your creativity?
Gregoris: In life, a lot of things get lost. Love can fade, your friends can turn their backs on you, your children can move far away, wars happen and economies crumble. It is the simple things that never fail, a field of wild flowers, a little bird, the ideal of peace, love or triumph. When you find these things you can hang on to them, you can push your spirit into them because they will do the same for you. I also try to put something beautiful into a canvas full of chaos because life is both of these things. Our existence is a battle for our own hearts & there is no beauty without ugliness. It is up to all of us to see the beauty, no matter how difficult that may sometimes be. The real beauty is in the triumph of finding it, the happiness you get when you overcome a bad feeling and forgive the world for all of its wrongs. I try to allow for the discovery of beauty to happen within each piece, rather than to just make something superficially beautiful by itself.
Pete: You make all of your pieces by hand here in Greece. It would be a lot less expensive to have it done in Asia, other designers have done so, why don't you?
Gregoris: I know who you are talking about. But this is real Greek jewelry, and I'm a real Greek. That means it is coming from my mind and my hands and my heart. It may not be perfect like a computer guided machine would make it but it has a soul, it has a piece of my soul, it has a field of wild flowers, a fresh love and the tears of mothers. Machines can't make those things.
I may not be as young as some of the other guys, I might not have the energy to make it to all the sales exhibitions and sometimes I even sleep a little late! But we've been making jewelry here for thousands of years and it's my responsibility to keep it going while I can.