Τhe fragile relationship between the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the intangible, the sacred and the unholy

Panos Tsagaris

The Artist's Journey

Text: Evi Kallini | Photographs: Panos Tsagaris Archive
panos tsagaris

Visual artist Panos Tsagaris, through his multifaceted work, is attempting to illustrate the fragile relationship between the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the intangible, the sacred and the unholy.

Panos Tsagaris was born and raised in Athens. He studied Fine Arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, in Vancouver, Canada, before moving to New York. His unique glance explores and juxtaposes spiritual and religious traditions, while his multifaceted work is venturing an attempt at grasping the transcendental. His work has been showcased in many individual solo shows and collective exhibitions in Greece and abroad, such as the exhibitions hosted at the Leipzig Museum of Contemporary Art, MUSA Museum in Vienna, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, Flag Art Foundation in New York and Benaki Museum in Athens. Moreover, he has taken part in the Performance Festival held within the framework of Thessaloniki’s 2nd Biennale of Contemporary Art, as well as in the 4th Biennale of Contemporary Art held in Thessaloniki, a city he often visits and with which he shares a deep bond, as it’s the birthplace of his wife. This fall, in October, his upcoming individual exhibition, bearing the title “Forever Now”, is scheduled to be hosted at the Teloglion Arts Foundation.

The exhibition is structured around the notion of time, as experienced in chronological order (past – present – future), but also through its non-linear nature, a perception that has been part of various spiritual traditions for centuries now. “Most notably it is the Far East tradition where the potency of “now” takes center stage, as the one and only temporal condition. As to science, it has only recently started to question time’s linear identity,” Panos Tsagaras explains. To him, this exhibition hosted at the Teloglion Arts Foundation is a sort of exercise for the visitor, an attempt to become actively present within the space of “now”. The exhibition consists of a new series of works on canvas, some prints and designs, as well as a video. Most of the works have been crafted over the last three months in his atelier at Aristotelous Square; a luminous studio equipped with large windows, granted to Tsagaris by his agent, Kalfayan Galleries Athens-Thessaloniki.

The paintings’ placement and positioning in the exhibition hall is of pivotal importance, as it follows in Hero’s Journey footsteps, a pattern for the analysis of myths, created by professor of literature Joseph Campbell, in 1949. After having delved into myths from all over the world, Campbell formulated the monomyth theory, which is based upon the observation that most grand myths’ key narrative elements derive from common ground, regardless of the myths’ origin or era. This way, the visitor, upon entering the exhibition, goes beyond the status of a simple beholder and symbolically assumes the role of the guide, trailing the path that leads from the sensory to the transcendental. 

Tsagaris chose to study in Vancouver, as the city’s Fine Arts Faculty is deemed as one of the top of its kind in Canada. As he admits, some close kinfolk of his, residing in Vancouver, made his decision to move to the northwest far of the continent, at the age of 19, a whole lot easier. Besides the natural beauty of the landscape, as the city is surrounded by mountains, woods and seaside, Vancouver is only a two-hour ride to Seattle, a city he admires, as he grew up on grudge music, the trademark of Seattle’s famous music scene. Following his graduation, Tsagaris moved to New York and is currently living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, while his atelier, in Greenpoint, is within walking distance; no more than 20 minutes on foot.

Tsagaris draws inspiration from his spiritualism and mysticism-driven inner quest. He is interested in the notion of internal transformation, as depicted in various mystical and mythological traditions, as well as in the ways through which this mutation process is incarnated in the socio-political context of our times, both in individual and collective level. As he explains, “through my work, I strive to portray the fragile relationship between the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the intangible, the sacred and the unholy, aiming to illustrate the potency of the everlasting and invariable transience.” To this end, he uses various means and techniques, ranging from video and performance to photography and design. Adapting to each separate inspiration and after having mapped out the ideal implementation path, he opts for the appropriate means and techniques. Over the last years, he is opting for mixed techniques, working both on canvas and large-size photographic prints.

Aside from this individual exhibition at Teloglion, Tsagaris is currently taking part in the recurrent collective exhibition “Theorimata 2: On History”, showcased in the National Museum of Contemporary Art, in Athens. In 2021, a collective exhibition is scheduled to be hosted at Benaki Museum, under the curation of Polina Kosmadaki and Kostis Velonis, while in spring 2021, Tsagaris will be included among the artists to showcase their work at the Yeravan’s 1st Biennale of Contemporary Art, in Armenia.