The term Kalokagathia derives from the Greek phrase “καλοκαγαθία”, meaning “beautiful and good”. The idea behind it is simple: the ideal human being is harmonised in mind and body, in speech and actions. In his work, Gil Russ applies a proportional grid to well known, almost iconic artworks of the Western world from Ancient Greece to 19th century Courbet, giving them a new sense of harmony. At the same time he simplifies the creative process, going back to clear gestures and elementary, repetitive hand movements, which could re-create the work of somebody else, similar to a Japanese Bonsai artist replicating nature's work. To achieve this, Gil chooses already existing artworks, which contain a certain number of layers.
To better understand the concept of layering in his motives, we can look at Zeus/Asklepius - a photography of a plaster cast made after a Roman copy of a Classical Greek original, cut into 160 squares and reattached on a new platform. In this particular piece, we can see how Gil’s creative process is the sixth one in line: Greek sculpture, Roman copy, plaster cast, photography, print, GRID. Gil strongly believes that in our time, when algorithm artists - computers - are challenging the very basics of a creative process (e. g. the project “The Next Rembrandt” by Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, Mauritshuis and Rembrandthuis), it is worth to physically reverse the idea of what machines are actually capable of. His creative process is almost machine-like in a time when the machine is painting Rembrandt-like. To find an inner peace which will compliment an already beautiful work, he is harmonising the art piece with a simple 3 mm grid.
Gil Russ was born in 1982 in Frankfurt am Main. After studying architecture at the Technical University of Darmstadt, he worked for various architecture studios, including Max Dudler Architekten and Robertneun. He also collaborated with the famous Danish visual artist Kirstine Roepstorff. He is currently living in Berlin.
Battery of the Universe (12th July 2019) ⋅ text EN DE
Kalokagathia (26th April 2017) ⋅ press release ⋅ facebook picture gallery