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Home HRArt and auctions A home devoid of works of art is a ‘white prison’ says Apostolos Yayannos in an interview with Achilleas Papadionysiou

A home devoid of works of art is a ‘white prison’ says Apostolos Yayannos in an interview with Achilleas Papadionysiou

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Apostolos Yayannos

Achilleas Papadionysiou interviews leading painter Apostolos Yayannos in Athens

When did your long artistic career begin and how has your practice, in regard to visuals, evolved?

My first personal painting exhibition goes as back as 1974, right after the dictatorship’s downfall in Greece. That exhibition was organized and held at the applied arts studio MORFI, which I, my brother Aristides, and our classmate Yannis Digles had established a few years earlier. There, apart from graphics, photography, my foray with designing, and the revision of special publications and magazines’ revision, my first attempt was made to dedicate adequate time to painting by means of preparing my maiden personal exhibition. I later abandoned applied arts altogether despite the fact that the living made from that was clearly satisfactory, and fully devoted myself to visual arts which were, and still are, my passion. A fervour, an imperative necessity, a life that is, and will be, keeping me on my toes and vigilant till my last breath.


How many exhibitions have you been involved in so far, in Greece, and abroad?

If you refer to my résumé you can find a detailed record. Since 1974 through 2023 there have been 87 personal exhibitions of mine, and I have participated in circa 600 joint exhibiting events in Greece, Cyprus, 11 European countries, the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Did you ever tally up how many artworks you have signed?

There are about 5,500–6,000 pieces of art, mainly paintings, but engravings, as well. 

In one of your prior interviews you declared yourself a partaker and a lover of ‘heteroartistic’ creation. What is that?

It is common knowledge that many foreign and Greek art creators are governed by this proclivity. For instance, the rich oeuvre of painter Tsarouchis included poetry, the poet Ritsos painted, Elytis crafted collage, Karouzos made instant original monotypes, Engonopoulos wrote wonderful poetry along with creating great painting, etc. Similarly with me; during the hours of lull and calm thinking I often put down several short essays on paper. To date five books have come out of it and been published— mainly satirical, or in the ‘haiku’ fashion—as well as a novel. Provided I have the time—which is rather unlikely for time flies and is racing after me—I may write one last piece under the title “All I forestalled.”

Are political elements elements inherent in art, or does it work as an independent discipline of aesthetic suggestions?

Art = Civilization, whereas so–called Politics in terms of exercising power—even through elections—is a condition of constantly alternating tactics depending on the preferences and demands of several public groups (the People). The difference between the Politician and the Artist is vast. The real artist is essentially the trustee–spokesperson of the public’s aesthetic, social, and humanitarian wishes. They receive, and in their works depict, the expectations, the “encores,” and the dreams of their principals. In fact, they grant pro bono intellectual work. All adroit creators feel like they’re intangibly rewarded at the very moment of their work’s completion. They feel they have lived up to the public’s expectations and longings although they haven’t ever personally met their ‘clients’. A piece of art may very well study the past and illustrate the present, but also possesses the magical trait of addressing future generations, too. (Every grand artwork treads towards the future… and as ofttimes has been proven it predicts it, too!) There are nowadays world–class international artists’ works aplenty that have received several decades of postmortem appreciation. They grace the grounds of museums and public or private institutions, showing a living proof of the human capabilities and perpetual progress.


Would you advocate placing works of art in people’s houses, and at their workplaces?

A private space with empty walls is, in fact, a white prison. A home devoid of any works of art (depending on the individual choice of each and every one of us) emanating energy and intellectual companionship, and without a few books around with the bookmark in place holding to the completion of the reading experience, ends up being an intolerable place of reception of recurrent commercials on consumable commodities via the omnipresent colour screen.

Achilleas Papadionysiou

What is your opinion on the skyrocketing pace of technological progress?

I always pose this question to myself: “A Republic of Technology, or a Dictatorship of Technology?” I can come to grips with and admire technological progress in medicine and other fields; however, being a totally unswerving easel–painter, a one–track mind grinder, I refuse to employ electronic methods and the like within my work. I’m rather confident that in the future there will be “painters” producing their initial images with the assistance of special robots, by pushing a button, or by a remote control. Besides, a relevant procedure by means of Artificial Intelligence has already started being put in motion. I unequivocally state that my works will always be an output of my mind and hands alone. This requires dedication, labour, a private strength of the mind. It needs sacrifices, vigils. It results in the deprivation of a normal daily routine. It entails a relentless battle against the personal doubt of the endeavour’s final outcome. Nonetheless, I’ve leapt to the conclusion that doubt is the true nurturer of art. The moment one of my works is signed, it acquires a soul that will make it live for all eternity. If, in the future, it so happens that the material with which it had been made gets worn out I hope that some robot will be able to reproduce the very image of it so that it’ll live forever. (And whoever paints me as Narcissus I’ll all them to do so!)

PS. I send my warm regards and my love to all our expatriate brothers in the U.S., and wholeheartedly wish that they’ll enjoy health, happiness, creation and longevity!

Apostolos Yayannos’ brief CV

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