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Athens Jewelry Week: Constantinos Papadoukas

Athens Jewelry Week is an annual jewellery festival founded by artists Erato Kouloubi and Niki Stylianou. AJW takes place in different locations throughout the city of Athens, Greece. As a part of Current Obsession Social Club, we are following this year’s AJW programme and initiating a series of interviews with local artists, which you can follow on Current Obsession´s website or our Instagram TV channel.

´My aim is not only to create an aesthetically pleasing piece, but to confront the audience with concepts that affect our modern ego centered societies…´ reveals Constantinos Papadoukas, a former sculptor currently based in Athens, about his body of work. In his recent collection Tenebris, on display during Athens Jewellery Week 2019, he is dealing with excruciating impact of negligent human behavior on surrounding nature. How can a piece of contemporary jewellery contribute to the greater change and use its power to spread the awareness? We asked Papadoukas for some answers.


Firstly, what does ´creating´ mean to you?


Trained as a fine artist, I have always believed that artists of any medium, much like philosophers or poets, express different perspectives and connect to human experiences in the most profound of ways. My personal exploration of creation revolves around issues that arise in our fast-paced societies, issues that I consider of essence, but are neglected. Regarding the actual making process, I have, throughout my career, a constant craving to design and fabricate, to challenge my skills and learn – an infinite loop of creating.

Shifting from sculpture to jewellery making, what was the key factor that attracted you to jewellery, and that you were intrigued by the most?

One of the drawbacks of large-scale sculpture for me has always been its rigidity and permanence. Sculpture conveys concepts and ideas that can only be experienced when visited in person, whereas jewellery is the exact opposite.  It is the compelling fluidity of jewellery that I find most intriguing. Each creation is a reflection of my emotions, but at the same time the very same piece shifts in its meaning, embracing the identity of the person wearing it, the location, culture or the audience viewing it.

Your pieces are almost like a small, wearable declarations, status quo. What are you referring to?

As mentioned before, one aspect I consider important as an artist is portraying, reminding or commenting on matters that are neglected: the devastation of nature and the raise of the ego in societies. These of course vary from culture to culture. The wild forest fires in Greece caused a lot of discord on the day they have happened, but were soon forgotten, much like the previous fires. So, in a way, my work acts like a bulletin – reminder, as you mention a status quo, but also as stepping stone to see through, to rebirth.

Can you please talk a bit more about jewellery you are exhibiting this year during Athens Jewelry Week?

Tenebris (Latin for darkness) is a collection that evolved after the devastating wild fires in Attika. In a matter of hours, human lives and hundreds of acres of forest were lost, leaving behind ashes, darkness and unspeakable pain. My loss of faith in human nature over the months that followed, evolved into the wearable mementoes currently on show at AJW. The created pieces are not necessarily meant to be aesthetically appealing, but act as commemorative articles.

Could you describe one of the exhibited pieces in more detail? Is there any particular story connected to it?

Actually, there is one brooch I made; the last to complete the series of brooches Memento – the one with the severed red copper branch. This particular piece was created while I was recovering from an accident and a following surgery, which caused me physical and emotional pain. For not only was I working with one hand, but the journey of recovery would be long, much like the return of life in burnt forests. It is a piece that took a lot of patience and understanding of myself, of the moment, of time, of the value of what one has and what one loses.

Is the wood you use in Tenebris collection the actual wood collected from the afflicted areas?

Indeed, most materials I used, have been harvested from the devastated areas. I visited the locations on several occasions to document the destruction.  Selected tree branches and roots were later further explored in my studio. Others were used in their original medium while others were cast or handled.

How would you describe Greek jewellery scene? What makes it different or unique?

Greek jewellery scene is diverse, both in concept and media. There are connections between classical inspired and abstract forms, wide experimentation with natural and synthetic materials, as well as a mixed approach to the meaning and purpose of jewellery. I would say it is this amalgamation of perspectives that makes the scene unique and different.

What are the perks of being a part of AJW?

AJW has grown to be a meeting point for artists from different continents. A finely organised, busy week with a wide selection of inspired pieces from different cultures and parts of the world, under one umbrella – creative jewellery.  Athens, a heterogeneous city, the perfect place to meet new friends and reunite with old!

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