“Art has never been the domain of truth; it is the sacred lie we call beauty”

Filippos Tsitsopoulos

Art against the tyranny of positivity

Text: Eva Kousiopoulou
Filippos Tsitsopoulos

We met with internationally renowned Filippos Tsitsopoulos at Lola Nikolaou Art Gallery on the occasion of “Against Happycracy.” The acclaimed London-based artist presented in Thessaloniki an interesting exhibition that began during the lockdown, when he put together the first small-scale works using snails and found items from his garden.

“I associated them with that period and with certain classic texts, such as those of Shakespeare, which I always come across. It’s an ongoing project. It’s something I continue to find in my path, which I have to look at, pick up, bring up close, and examine. That gave me the impetus for this exhibition. Against the ‘happycracy’ that dictates our behavior and the direction of our lives.” Comprising the exhibition are an installation, a performance, and a video installation on three screens.

“Titos Patrikios, I recall, proclaimed his right to the abolition of solitude. At the moment, the concept of redefining happiness is also prevalent in London. It’s all about the very drama of our existence; the elements of the work I’ve chosen for the exhibition all speak about this redefining,” he notes.

“To put it somewhat comically, ‘29 happiness experts’ would never recommend Macbeth or Heiner Müller, nor my projects, obviously, with the bruises left on my face by my heavy masks made of living materials. Because after each performance, when I return to my workshop, I touch my face and my body and use what is left over to map that pain,” explains the artist.

“There is this powerful social impact of the science and industry of happiness that has created a new, oppressive form of regulation and control. Happiness has been caught up in the web of authority, but it is ‘Full of sound and fury; signifying nothing,’ to quote Macbeth. That’s why I chose this powerful monologue by Macbeth, my protagonist of choice, who keeps repeating, ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…’”

Art is the brightest thing. Art has never been the domain of truth; it is the sacred lie we call beauty. It can help, heal.

Filippos Tsitsopoulos

But what is the role of art in all this turmoil, in these dark times? “Art is the brightest thing,” Filippos replies. “Art has never been the domain of truth; it is the sacred lie we call beauty. It can help, heal. We first discovered this recently, during the lockdown, when we could be confined in our homes listening to Nick Cave’s creation, who was also locked down in his home. After all, as Marina Abramovic said, looking is the beginning of art; its first, primary element. A person needs to see a person.”

His exhibition “Against Happycracy” he describes as “a stand-up tragedy in the form of a three-channel video installation; a lecture and a performance show with items, masks and theatrical passages on wonder, madness, the obligatory abolition of loneliness, and the wreckage of existence.”

And that is because “A work of art is a lake in heat; a trench filled with everything we are unable to mention without trembling. A work of art is a wildfire of lost vineyards, of castaway dreams, of black milk lovingly held in the embrace of the night. It’s the music that our anguish can compose while our daily life mocks our flight by scrambling our hours,” to echo the accompanying text.

Filippos Tsitsopoulos was born in Athens. He graduated from the AuTh School of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki and earned his PhD at the Complutense University in Madrid. He works in the fields of digital art and installations – as well as in interactive experiential theater, video theater, and theatrical performance art, exploring the
boundaries between theater and painting since 1990. He has lived in Spain and Liverpool for several years and now lives permanently in London. Filippos Tsitsopoulos has exhibited and performed in Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, the USA and Greece.

Taking place in galleries and museums, in his performances Filippos recites theatrical passages from repertory works wearing masks-works of art made of fruit, vegetables, dead fish, seashells, meat, flowers, taxidermy butterflies, leather… materials that cover his entire face and body, and comprise his art supplies.





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