“I just have so much energy to create. And I’d keep going, too, if I hadn’t run out of space,” he said. Elsewhere in his home, there were cloudy resin pour paintings; blown-up photographs he’d taken with a disposable camera when he was 15; and a pair of awards for two short films he directed on the topic of mental health.
For Mr. Anastasis, having the space and time to make art, or as he described it, “the freedom to play,” is an extravagance he’s always wanted, and one he’s earned. “I’m lucky that I have a job,” he said. “I’m not doing any of this to pay the bills.” Although there are similarities between his salon and sculpting practices — namely the trust he requires from his clients and models — there’s a difference between trimming someone’s hair and creating a replica of their breasts, as he did for his friend’s mother. “She’d seen my work on Instagram,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous. But I also loved how open she was.”
He pulled up a recording of “im·mor·tal,” a performance he staged last fall at Laverdin Fine Arts in New York. The footage showed Jefferson “The Tank” Sullivan, an MMA and Muay Thai fighter, sprawled naked on a massage table in the center of a white-box gallery. Mr. Anastasis was carefully layering strips of plaster-soaked cotton against Mr. Sullivan’s backside, which was shiny with Vaseline. About 20 minutes after applying them, he removed what had become a hardened shell. “It’s like an exorcism,” said Mr. Anastasis. “Something gets drawn out.” Mr. Sullivan described the experience as “magical,” while another one of his models, the fitness coach Matt Pattison, said, “It’s a therapeutic experience. Each time, I’d see him hold the piece like a child.”
Mr. Anastasis was raised by Cypriot immigrants in the town of Beckenham, Kent. His father, a cobbler, made shoe samples for Jimmy Choo. His mother owned Fiji Unisex Hair Salon, where older women from the neighborhood would go for their weekly shampoo-and-set treatments. From a young age, he loved hair: At night, when everyone had gone to bed, he’d uncover the Barbie dolls he’d hidden from his two older sisters and give them braids.
So it came as a surprise when he enrolled in the London College of Fashion’s fashion design technology program. “You know what’s messed up?” said Mr. Anastasis. “I went into fashion because my dad said only gay men do hair.” Laughing, he added, “Well, that didn’t work.”