KIRIAKOS TOMPOLIDIS Μην ξεχνάς να ζεις Don’t Forget to Live – Curated by Federico Brauer

Image: Kiriakos Tompolidis, Xapá ( Joy), 2023, 170 x 120 cm, oil and acrylic on canvas, Courtesy the artist.

09 September 2023 – 28 October 2023

Special opening times during BERLIN ART WEEK
13. -17. September 2023, 12 -6 p.m.

Visits and guided tours are possible every Saturday between 12:00 and 18:00.

The frenetic pace of contemporary life demands not only material resources but also time and attention, making it difficult for individuals to develop deep relationships with others around them. Some essential dimensions of human life, such as family, friendship and other social relationships, are therefore relegated to a lower level of priority than work and immediate necessities. Furthermore, an increasing lack of introspection alienates one from a deeper connection with the self, as contemplative reflection on one’s own condition becomes less frequent.

In this regard, Kiriakos’ work reminds us of the importance of intimacy, understood here not in relation to the other, but to oneself; of establishing a deep connection with oneself, knowing one’s own depths, and recognizing in memory, ancestry, and life experiences a way of constructing oneself in the world. Here, introspection serves as a privileged place to reflect on the temporal and generational relationships that one wishes to reproduce or avoid, and thus build new possibilities. Family, material and spiritual roots and the search for meaning in human existence become points of reference for the construction of one’s own experience and, consequently, the way in which it is represented. Kiriakos’ grandparents came to Germany from Greece as so-called ‘guest workers’ in the 1960s. The first works in the exhibition set the stage by referring to the 70s through the once fashionable wallpaper patterns and tiles of his grandmother’s apartment. The flat style of his paintings is also reminiscent of ancient Greek vases depicting human and mythological activities from the Archaic and Classical periods (c. 600-323 BC). Although it is important to stress that such painted scenes should not be regarded as photographs documenting reality, they can nevertheless help to reconstruct the life and beliefs of the ancient Greeks.

These quiet or lively scenes, however, are a reminder of past struggles and moments of self-doubt. His grandparents believed in the Orthodox Church, which follows a system of social relations, values and norms that are predominantly set and shaped by men, as they put themselves in a position of privilege. This is the very reason why Kiriakos’ works contain symbols of power. In the Orthodox tradition, an icon (from the ancient Greek, ‘εἰκών’ (eikṓn), ‘image, likeness’) is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting. They are not realistic portraits of saints, but abstractions. Kiriakos narrates his own experience being told to be free and happy, implying that someone has played a significant role in shaping his outlook on life. Still, the same person has experienced hardship and faced challenges, suggesting that the individual recognises the importance of personal growth in order to teach the next generation in the family. This duality reflects a deep understanding of the complexity of life. The art of living in his paintings is his own journey of self-discovery through the memories and stories of his family and reconnecting with the land of his ancestors, Greece. In the process, Kiriakos catches up with his life today and shapes his future.

Kiriakos Tompolidis, born in 1997 in Essen, Germany, currently focuses on his Greek roots in his work. The focus is on human figures who look out at us from his large-format paintings, sometimes self–confident, sometimes doubtful. They are depicted in spaces that seem to allegorise their emotional state. He uses elaborate printing and collage techniques combined with painting. Kiriakos Tompolidis now lives in Berlin, where he has been studying at the University of the Arts since 2018.

Federico Brauer, September 2023