A multilayered artist mainly working with video and installations

Lina Theodorou

The art of unexpected

Text: Evi Kallini
Λίνα Θεοδώρου

Born and raised in Athens, Lina Theodorou studied at the TEI Athens School of Graphic Arts and Creative Studies of (1989–1993), the National School of Fine Arts in Athens (1994–1999), where she was a student of Giorgos Lappas, and the Hague School of Fine Arts, Sculpture and Multimedia in the Netherlands (1998). Since 2012, she mainly lives and works in Berlin as well as her Athens workshop.

Despite starting off in the world of applied arts – graphic design – she realized that art was her home, she admits. As she characteristically says, “I felt as if I had returned where I should have always been. Being an artist is not just a way of life; it is in my nature. My way of thinking and my personal understanding of the world are defined by it. I think that being an artist is not a choice; it is in our nature and perhaps the only way one can overcome obstacles of any type and continue the exhilarating journey of artistic exploration”.

Lina Theodorou is a multilayered artist mainly working with video and installations; yet painting continues to follow her everywhere, a faithful companion that evolves alongside every one of her semantic, thematic and experimental pursuits. From the outset of her career as an artist, she has had an interest in ideas and in design. She explains that the idea is what defines the narrative, further development, each work’s structure, as well as the paths that can lead to its realization. Meanwhile, “design, in the wider sense, gives form to the idea and was the means that gradually allowed me to develop my personal language as an artist”.

At the core of her artistic approach lies semantic research. She experiments with juxtaposition. For instance, a pleasant and joyful item, such as a toy, will coexist with something morbid, for example a gun – which will raise in the viewer’s mind questions about existing consumer culture.

In her recent paintings, she has used elements from the world of cartoons and graphic novels, computer games, as well as images from the internet, all combined with her stylized industrial designs. Elsewhere, she has experimented her way into an in-between state bordering fact and fiction, creating works with social and political overtones, in an attempt to draw the viewer into a narrative adventure. 

The element of humor permeates most of her work, drawing in even those who don’t want to grasp the message – or actively avoid it.

As far back as 1999, she was shortlisted for the DESTE Prize, and earned the Spyropoulos Foundation award in the same year. In 2002, Lina took part in curator Katerina Gregos’s “Fusion Cuisine” exhibition at DESTE. She participated in the 8th International Istanbul Biennale, curated by Dan Cameron, with “Wonderpark” (2003) and the Monument to Now exhibition, showcasing the Dakis Joannou collection. She has collaborated with the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) and curator Anna Kafetsi with “Loan” (2006) and “Invisible Future Systems Part 3: Fleshpack.com Human Delivery” (2003).

She designed a series of playable board games themed after economic and social issues which, in the form of an art installation, has traveled far and wide, including to the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts in Brussels, Bâtiment d’Art Contemporain Le Commun, in Geneva, and Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. The artist has several collaborations including, among others, with sci-fi writers from ALEF (the Athens science fiction club) for a project featured at Tomorrows (2017) at the Onassis Cultural Center, and she has participated at the crypto_manifold exhibition at Chronus Art Center, Shanghai (2020). In 2021, she received the Stinftung Kunstfonds grant.

Her latest work included the solo exhibition Lost Season at Zina Athanassiadou Gallery in Thessaloniki (December 2021 – January 2022), curated by art historian Marina Athanassiadou, which features paintings, drawings, sculptures, and 3D animation J.I. – Jellyfish Intelligence, co-created with John Butler, which was shown at the Supernova Digital Animation Festival at Denver, Colorado. Moving forward, she will be devoting her time to a research/art project that focuses on China’s factories, for which she will be visiting the country.