From the economy to art school

Giorgos Taxiarchopoulos, a graduate of the Athens School of Fine Arts, was recently awarded first prize for young artists by the Yiannis and Zoi Spyropoulos Foundation. The distinction, accompanied by prize money, also handed the 31-year-old artist the opportunity to take part in a group exhibition with 10 of his works, Taxiarchopoulos told Kathimerini in an interview. Taxiarchopoulos described his prize as «a pleasant surprise; a great dose of personal pleasure amid this difficult period we’re all experiencing lately as a result of the war,» while also noting that, in essence, «a specific work was not rewarded, but a sample of work.» What were your first artistic experiences? When I was 5 years old, at the Louvre Museum. I was on my father’s shoulders to get a better view of the works. When we returned to Greece I tried painting some of the figures of Picasso and da Vinci… Was that when you decided you’d be an artist? The truth is that I didn’t get favorable remarks for my first attempts in painting. After first studying economics in Sydney, Australia, and working in this particular field for several years, I sat entrance exams for the Athens School of Fine Arts when I was 26. It was one of those decisions one makes during maturity. Could you, theoretically speaking, become a good manager for yourself? Modern civilization is heavily reliant on the economy, which certainly helps me comprehend how things are interwoven. But, in practical terms, no, I probably couldn’t see myself as a product for promotion. How did the switch from economics to art occur? I never approached art as a career but as a means of expression. Dealing with economics may sharpen the mind, but ultimately, I didn’t want to deal with the subject on a daily basis. What’s the common thread that runs through all your work? The concept of fusing many forms such as video, painting, or photography. My main interest is to examine space and time – three-dimensional. Are you a balancing act between camera and frame? Every work has its own needs. The idea leads you to methods of expression. You represented Greece at the international «Germinations» exhibition, won a scholarship for several months of tuition at the Beaux Arts, and works of yours were exhibited at French galleries. What are your French contemporaries like? They’re as anxious as we are to swiftly establish careers in the field of art. There, of course, you may have more opportunities for distinction, but the competition is far greater. At the Beaux Arts, I gained the experience of learning with Christian Boltanski, the sculptor Richard Deacon, and Jean-Marc Bustante. Many of your works contain elements of Greek tradition and mythology. Using such elements comes with a responsibility. Our daily lives usually disconnect us from tradition. We’re influenced by many situations lurking inside us. Your motto on life? «Man is my homeland.» It’s a line by the poet Lefteris Poulios, and the title of one of my works. The motto for the 30-something generation? «We’re not all guilty.» Our relationships, be they social, friendly, or romantic, are heavily based on fear and guilt. We’re responsible for ourselves, and escape from our personal decisions always exists.