If I were to describe myself as a painter only, then I write and I photograph as a painter.
Multitalented, multifaceted and endlessly restless, visual artist Athan Dapis burst into the art world with sweeping momentum. He draws inspiration from everything around him to transmute impressions and thoughts into images, and he never stops experimenting. One result of these artistic pursuits is ebnefsis, from the Greek word for inspiration; a highly original limited edition photobook.
Thessaloniki born and raised, Athan Dapis graduated from Anatolia College, going on to continue his studies at the School of Fine Arts of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and at Facultad de Bellas Artes of Universidad Complutense in Madrid.
In fact, art runs in the family. Gallerist Lola Nikolaou is Thanasis’s grandmother, and he was initiated into the world of artistic creation so early that he almost doesn’t remember how it all started. “I don’t think there was a specific moment when I said ‘I want to make art,’ and that is because I’ve always made art anyway. I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember. I drew inspiration through my family and the wider circle I grew up in, which was filled with artists – as well as our travels, the exhibitions, and museums I saw at a young age.”
In his symbolism-filled paintings, he adopts abstract expression to create wild, vivid, and colorful images that betray an explosive, expressionistic temperament. They are mostly large-scale works made with a wide range of materials, from acrylic to oil, pastel, and spray paint.
Ebnefsis began as an Instagram project, later taking the material form of a print publication in which the artist captured and bound thoughts, impressions, emotions, and images – a tiny paper gallery of his own. It is interesting that in the age of digital ubiquity, he chose to express himself on paper. It’s “a record of writings and images,” according to the artist, which he does not consider separate nor removed from the rest of his work. “I wouldn’t delineate my artistic identity into areas. On the contrary, I go deeper within it, enrich it using new mechanisms and tools, and I want it to remain unchanged as a result. If I were to describe myself as a painter only, then I write and I photograph as a painter. And when I don’t paint, I write and photograph – and this is how the publication came to be, as one more aspect of my expression. As a creator, I never felt I always had to try something new; it was the process of creating itself that led me to seek out new methods and tools so I can express myself in new ways. Work came first, and development followed. If there is one thing a creator must do it’s trust their instinct and dare.”
How does his home city and home base of Thessaloniki define Athan’s artistic identity? “Up until this very moment I can be described as a Thessaloniki artist. I was born here, I grew up here, I still live and work here, I graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s Faculty of Fine Arts, I’ve exhibited in galleries, museums, and fairs in Thessaloniki… Even subconsciously, the city is in my work, which makes sense. I am inspired by its atmosphere, its sea, and its people. One of my goals could be for my art to characterize the city, and for me to successfully become one of its visual references.”
Recently and following the publication of ebnefsis, he says he identified a need to delve deeper into photography. “I feel that in this way I am filling a gap in my expression left by abstract painting, as photography captures things realistically. I am currently in search of solutions as to how to combine these two mediums. Soon, you will get to see the first results.”