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Searching for authenticity artist Antonis Tsrouchas reflects individual and societal pressures.

by Joana Alarcão

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Searching for authenticity artist Antonis Tsrouchas reflects individual and societal pressures.

Some say true power lies in one's ability to fit within societal rules while maintaining genuine authenticity. But is it possible to be confined to a set of preconceived notions that don't consider unique individual identities without creating unrelatable personas? The pursuit of true untouched individuality remains only a rare attempted journey. Although some make a mockery of the sense of identity and inclusivity, artists such as Antonis Tsarouchas remind us of the unmatched beauty of one's experience and character.

The forthcoming practice of greek artist Antonis Tsrouchas whose openness around the subject of personal journey and struggles ruthlessly pursues true identity behind its subject matter, is a clear indicator of the notions above. Indeed, the almost diaristic quality, with hazy compositions and the neutral and contrasting color of his artistic collection, embodies the realities of an individual searching for a sense of uniqueness and authenticity, questioning our core ability to connect and be understood truly.

The camera's gaze expands to encompass a symbiosis of intimate realities and unspoken identities, an experience beyond the documentation of an individual reality or portrait - it inhabits a shared consciousness that reflects the societal pressures individuals face to create an acceptable persona in order to connect.

Speaking with Tsarouchas, it is clear that his visual aesthetics and identity are intimately related. Deep diving into the concepts behind his projects, Tsarouchas explains his premises and leads us through the challenging journey of an artist and individual making sense of his surroundings and experiences.

Can you talk about your artistic practice to those who don't know your artistic practice?

Well, I use photography as a basis to create something but am I a photographer? No. I consider myself an Artist - I create a fragment of life. I found it mostly on people. I shoot portraits not for their pretty faces, even if they are indeed pretty, but because they are people and people have an unseen identity. Their memories, their dreams, their experiences. I take that, and I filter it through my eyes - what I see, what I think, what I feel. That's why I always tend to move around the human element in my projects. So, if the question is what is my artistic practice, it's hard to choose one. I just enjoy using every single artistic field in order to communicate what I feel to people.

Since your work is deeply connected with your personal atmosphere, how do you approach your creative process? Is it an intuitive moment, or do you already have a composition in mind?

If I learned something in this life, it is that nothing is going according to plan. It doesn't make me sad. I embrace it. I mean, no one planned to be born, no one planned to fall in love. It just happens, in the right place, at the right time, in the location that you are with the mentality that you have at that exact time. So, you can't fail at any plan if you don't have one. The only plan that I personally follow is to be real and spontaneous. That's how I start a project. I gather the elements that surround my life, and I try to get them out with what I feel is genuine and cool. I'm sure if I feel that way, at least a million people will feel the same way. That's why my art sometimes feels chaotic because there is no composition, no logical order. It just happens, like life.

Your photography has a very hazy composition, with neutral and contrasting colors. Where did this aesthetic come from? What attracts you to it?

Before that question, I really did not notice it, but you are right. It is hazy, and I feel what attracts me to it is the mysticism, in a sense that I don't want my art to be easily understood. When I create, I always think of dreams. They are hazy, and the colors are diverse. I ask- why do some people dream this way and others do not?

It attracts me a lot because I just found it elegant and cool. I don't like reality, so in my world, when I create, I build my own scenes. But I always believed that if something attracts you and you don't know why then it is only right to follow that path.

In a conversation with The Holy Art, you mentioned, "my biggest hope is that people can understand that I am hiding behind my artwork and ultimately can see me as I truly am." Can you elaborate on that?

When I was a kid, a teenager, I was a nobody - no girls without money, born in a below middle-class family in a destroyed economic nation. I wasn't the prettiest guy but thanked God I was damaged enough that I changed every year without noticing it. So, I created an idea for myself, a persona in order to protect me, to believe in something. I couldn't find something to live for, but I found something to die for. The chances are that this idea, the persona, replaced me, and it became me. So, in my photos, I hide my fears, I hide my love, my lust, my fetishes. I hide them, but I express them.

I was pretty taken by the visual impact of your photographic series Gaia. What is the concept behind it, and what attracted you to it?

The Women. You see, I'm always like them, even if I'm not one. I am always the outsider, the overlooked, the dismissed. I get inspired by women - the way that they move, the way they are. Everything seems so dull and empty without them, and I wanted to create an Ode for them. Like Gaia, the start of everything, the element of all elements, I wanted to give credit and love to the gender that I deeply appreciate - for my mother, my sister, and my girlfriend. The unseen heroes, the birthplace of all births, the life itself.

You moved from Greece to Germany with your parents to pursue your artistic career. What can you tell us about that experience?

It was the most damaging experience but also the most important one. I got humbled there. I felt like I didn't matter. I felt that I was what I was before starting making art. The life of an immigrant hides something unusually beautiful. You are at the bottom. It's you against the world. Nobody is expecting something from you. You are free. I did several dead-end jobs there. Mostly, I hung out with other migrants. I had friends from Somalia, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Syria. Places that I heard about only in some movies or on the news, and I was so so so similar to them, and they were so similar to me. Cause we were at the same place, low down below. Overall, a good experience taught me a lot of things. I met friends, I met artists, I dreamed, and I was alive.

Art can reach and influence various societal dimensions. What do you think is the role of the artist in society?

There are few artists today. An artist MUST have an ideology. An artist must have passion. An artist creates for people and Gods, not for money or fame or recognition. Unfortunately, the political system forces society to promote artists they use for their propaganda. Like Andy Warhol said, "Art in the future will be used only for propaganda", and we are living it today. There is no place for an artist in today's world. If you chose to be an artist, you chose a lonely path. If you are lucky enough to make it and you stay true, then you have a chance to change the norm. Until then, an artist is nothing. Even his death counts more than his life.

What is your relationship with galleries so far? What can you tell us about your experience?

They are good partners. Most of them - at least the galleries that I co-operated with - are galleries with love for the artist and their art. They believe in something. They provide a shelter for your art, a higher place, and a chance for you to speak to your possible audience. And I hope in the future, I will meet more galleries with the same mentality, without political agendas, no money-driven galleries: just pure lust and love for creativity.

Where do you see your practice evolve?

My craft is already where I wanted it to be. My idea, my dream is to create audiovisual interactions with the audience's theatrical events. Like a ceremony, something mystical and holy out of this world. Where you and the audience can be free without chains and boundaries, maybe a mask will free us all. That's where I am for. That is where I see my art further evolving.

What have you been doing recently in the studio? Can you speak a bit about it?

Right now, I give life, emotions and movement to my current portraits through the Deepfake lab. I revisit my photos, and I turn them into videos with music, like a Harry Potter newspaper. I shoot mostly film now. I find it interesting that something so analogue can be turned into something so futuristic.

How do you manage your time between your art practice and networking? What do your days look like?

"The days are bright, filled with pain, enclose me into your gentle rain" My days look like every day of an ordinary person, and I tend to follow this path more and more because I represent the unrepresented, the unseen, the everyday woman and man. That's how I feel my vibe to be calm around those people. I wake up, I go to my everyday work, I speak and interact with everyday people, we speak about everyday problems, I laugh a bit, I get upset a bit, and at night, my ideas come to life. When everything is settled, when everything is expressed, I can go to sleep to start over again.

As an artist, what would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

That I never changed. That I believed in myself when everybody said stop believing in yourself. That I never forgot where I'm from and where I came from. That I was born, and I am alive. That I was able to love and to be loved. That I'm here, right now, speaking to you. I am the most accomplished man.

Cover Image: Masks, 2013.

Portrait and Photomanipulation. Society´s “gift” to women. Image courtesy of Antonis Tsrouchas.

Image 1: Complex,  2014.

Digital photography. Image courtesy of Antonis Tsrouchas.

Image 2: Image courtesy of Antonis Tsrouchas.

Image 3: Dropout Bear.

Digital photography. Image courtesy of Antonis Tsrouchas.

Image 4: “21st Century Gaia”

Photomanipulation, collage. Image courtesy of Antonis Tsrouchas.

Katerina Pravda contemporary visual artist.jpg

In 2014 I completed my studies in Photography in Thessaloniki, after a year unable to find work in Greece and I went to serve my time in the army (its mandatory for men in Greece to serve 9-12 months in the army) then I moved to Stuttgart, Germany, there I mostly learned the German language and worked here and there, but I was lucky enough to exhibit my work in Berlin, in a gallery called Voodoo88 and after 3 months I did another exhibition in Rome, in a gallery called Millepianni. Of course during my time in Greece I had made 2 more exhibitions in IANOS (bookstore-art space) and in Artcore (artspace-club). Of course during pandemic and before I had made some publications in magazines in different countries (USA, Canada, UK, Slovenia, Poland, Germany etc, magazines like : PurpleHaze, MatiganArt, CultArtes, Slevin Magazine, Oazarts Magazine, Badass Magazine, Fakfulness Magazine, WOM magazine and lastly I did a cover art for the pianist Fabrizzio Paterlini and an online exhibition for the Holy Art, a gallery in London.
So, this is my bio in general, but if you want more personal infos, I have a brother and a sister, I come from a familly that is below middle class, I grew up in a small city that is located near the mountain Olympus calles Leptokaria and thats it I guess. And now, again, I moved back in Greece and I live in Thessaloniki.
Additionals informations about my work : I mostly touch and represent social problems, inequality problems, mysticism, climate problems and unrepresented people and aspects of life such as poverty, death, life and vanity


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