Tassos Pavlopoulos

Pavlopoulos Tassos

Born in Athens in 1955, he studied at the Athens Technological Organization (Doxiadis School) (1974-1977) and Graphic Arts and Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland (1978-1983) under Henryk Tomaszewski and Teresa Pagowska. With a grant from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation he continued his studies in Painting under Nikos Kessanlis (1987-1991). In 1995 he designed one of the twelve sculptures (Art Clock Towers) produced by Swatch for the Olympic Games in 1996 in Atlanta. He has designed posters, participated in international contests and won the first prize at the Polish poster contest in Warsaw in 1982. In 2003 he designed the official poster for the 44th Film Festival in Thessaloniki. Works by him can be found in public and private collections. He lives and works in Athens.


Solo Exhibitions


Phantasmagoria Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Happy Days Skoufa Gallery Athens


Sewing – Mechanics: Painting on Paper 2008-2009 Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Wasteland Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Appearances Can Be Deceiving Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Dialogues 2004 Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art (MOMus – Museum of Contemporary Art) and Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Art Athina Athens (Kalfayan Galleries)


The Extras Kalfayan Galleries (44th Thessaloniki International Film Festival)


Tam Tam Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Tam Tam Kalfayan Galleries Athens


The Bodyguards Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Art Athina Athens (Agathi Art Gallery)


Absences Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Art Athina Athens (Agathi Art Gallery)


Art Athina Athens (Kalfayan Galleries)


Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Outside Space and Time Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Post-Zorro Artio Gallery Athens


Drafts and Rafts Artio Gallery Athens


Prisma Art Gallery Rhodes


Artio Gallery Athens


Athina Gallery Athens


Ora Art and Cultural Centre Athens


Exemplary Treatise

On the Wares of Pavlopoulos

I like Pi as in Peripeteia (adventure), as in Periergeia (curiosity), as in Peisma (tenacity), as in Poetry. As in Pavlopoulos. And this Pavlopoulos is one of those painters whom I not only love, but who are Precious (Pi again) to me. And they are precious to me because they force me, after the sensory party that equates to every contact with their work, to agonise, as if I were Philip Marlowe facing Capablanca1, as if all my certainties have taken a serious beating, as if everything I knew is either blaringly confirmed (which is suspicious, which leads you straight back to doubt), or slowly fades into a sob and then becomes lost in silence (which means that what I knew wasn’t much good, to begin with), to agonise, as I was saying, thinking about what Art is today, what Painting is in 2010, after that ever so sneaky attack of Marcel Duchamp, what it means to stay up all night writing / painting / making music, how much innocence we could be left with, how much madness (how “Still Crazy After All These Years”, I wonder?) there is still room for, how much wild and also emotional, but also broken and multiply cancelled-out “patience and persistence”, as the good old teachers used to tell us, does it take, these days, to be able to make a poem, to make a painting, to make a song? On top of which, sometimes you get slapped in the face, hard, by an inescapable “why?”, “what for?”, and that’s where things can go relentlessly off track, and the highway to giving up may open up, disguised as a doll, beautiful and fine, when in truth she is, to those who know and understand, an ugly, mean bitch.

The Case for a Tragic Optimism

What makes, today, in the strange now we’re living in, a work of art important, mean something, have a point, turn things upside-down, wink at those in-the-know who welcome it, slap with Homeric laughter and joyful force the ignorant and the insensitive, intuit the future, or even create it, with the only creative force that Art has always had, namely its Cunning, the List der Vernunft odyssey, the polytropon, the I’m-playing-the-fool-but-you’ve-got-it-coming, the (and here, too, folk language is admirably precise) sneaking-by-engagement, but also the “if it comes to that, we’ll go to war and they’ll wrap (Oh, Guillaume!) our heads in bandages (Oh, Apollinaire!)” or, indeed, it could so happen that we’ll put on a play on the Mountain, or we’ll stay in France and join the Resistance, when we could very well be drinking whisky in Dublin, and on it goes, as they say.

But does it go? And do they say? Popular wisdom states that Words, an ass they cannot penetrate, which means that, unless you go from Marcus Aurelius’s look within to Mark Rothko’s “I Can Communicate Those Basic Human Emotions”, you’re going nowhere, you might as well give up and find something else to occupy your time, you’d only get yourself in trouble, and the good people around you, or, indeed, you might even get your words in trouble (because words without the actions that carry them, are not just “flying” but winged as well).

Let the Star Fix the Star2

Onwards, or actually, it’s almost the same, backwards: in 1998, and indeed on the 15th of April, Pavlopoulos in his book “Mouseion Mouson” (Agra, 1998), claims that “Art is like diving… you take a deep breath… you dive in… and that’s when ‘technique’ comes into play… strong lungs…”. Wonderful! Although, as the Great Archangel of Mild Disasters says, “I love the sea, but only in winter, and even then from very far and from the top of a mountain” 3. All the same, let’s take a look, let’s see how the aforementioned List der Vernunft – let’s call it the Cunning of Words – works, in something that was said around thirty years ago before Pavlopoulos’s assertion, and shone in our moistened eyes exactly twenty years from now when I write this, namely in December (it shone) of 1988: “From 1902 until 1910, I swam quite a lot. Eight years of swimming exercises” (“The Engineer of Lost Time: Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp”, Agra, 1989).

That metaphor (and let Vangelis Bitsoris correct it if it isn’t simply a metaphor, but a meta-phor, or perhaps a meta-metaphor or even “Dave’s Excursions-Metaphors” [Translator’s Note: In Greek, the literal meaning of metaphor, metaphora, is transportation]), in any case, that let’s-just-say-it’s-a-metaphor for artistic labour / swimming in the sea, transports us either to Jannis Kounelis’s Lake Odyssey, – one but a sail, yet a sail –, or to the more in keeping with Pavlopoulos’s humour age-old saying, especially when it comes to tales of artistic ambition, “Shut up and swim!”.

Which means, once again, forget words, forget construction, deconstruction, underconstruction, screwtheconstruction, grab a brush, take a breath, take a drag, forget everything, remember everything, stop being, stop not being, become, get lost / get in / get spilt, ruin yourself / break yourself / spit at yourself, get up / fall down, fall down, get up, turn the cooker on / make coffee / open your eyes, make the coffee blue, get out of colour, Life Has No Lid (Karouzos), go wild, get close to zero, drink the wine / golden drop / from the soul / to the soul (Hatzidakis).


Gaur and Jim Adams Repatriated and Spithas Won’t Beat Up the Japanese4

How Wonderful it Is To Be Innocent!
How Innocent it Is To Be Wonderful!
It’s All about Staying Human and loving Pavlopoulos as Volition and as Representation!
No to solo ipso, yes, at last to Solo Height (and Style)!
Tassos Pavlopoulos is the one, the Very Precious One, who taught me about the Great Arslan!!!
Tassos Pavlopoulos is a Good Painter and has a Nice Gaze
when he paints
but also when
He Drinks Still Has a Very
nice gaze.
Besides, as Nikolai Gogol said,
Napoleon is a great general
but that’s not a good enough reason
to break the furniture!


Dadaism Was a Spiritual Mutiny

Tassos Pavlopoulos is a self-confessed lover of Dada. But, pay attention: in no way is he a post-Dadaist. Nor, of course, some imitator of Dada tropes, almost a century too late. (We couldn’t move, for a time, for annoying sub-imitators of everything authentic pioneers, such as Arthur Cravan, André Breton, Benjamin Péret, Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, and many others, managed to bring to Art or the Revolution, or both.) Pavlopoulos, on the contrary, engages, through the years, in a fertile dialogue with the achievements of Dada, draws inspiration from them, engrafts them with reflection and dreams, dares have them converse with other achievements of other tropes, rhythms, methods, and then fills with all the colours the space of his head, that blessed innermost studio of Truly True Truth, of Really Real Reality, namely that bunker, that trench, that glowing and redemptive barricade, made of tulips and orchids, where the raging war between the numerous butt-ugly, shit-face scumbags and the angelic “happy few” takes place.


But What Remains, Indelible, Upon Me Is the Mark Made by Zorro. Even Now, I Must Repay Him5

Each time I see and enjoy works by Pavlopoulos (be it in a gallery, or in scrapbooks and books, or on the walls, or on the toilet flusher of the jazz whisky bar of Kallidromiou Street “O Enoikos” (the tenant), where we wasted several years of our lives and countless braincells to become even more human, don’t you know), three things come to the Swiss cheese that is what remains of my once powerful mind:

Firstly, that I consider the attitude of the artist in question towards his predecessors as sacrilegious respect and respectful sacrilege. Which means, as many children do with their new and favourite toys, I admire, I break, I take apart to see what’s inside (that’s what we used to say, as kids) and I put together again, in a different configuration, my own, to my liking, personal, the pieces from different toys to make a new one, unprecedented, a novelty.

Secondly, that I once read, amazed by the rare aptness of the critic, that the songs of Tom Waits are unique in that they feel like you’ve heard them before, somewhere, sometime, and they’re already yours, you carry them in your mind, in your heart, and in your entire muscular system, even if they belong on his latest album and you’re hearing them for the first time, and you are, of course, aware that you’re hearing them for the first time. In the same way that Waits becomes lost in the rhythms and the melodies of the Deep South, in the elaborately decorated with folk motifs musical creations of Kurt Weil, in the unrestrained and untidy sounds of the metropolis, in the folky, deadbeat songs that play in brothels, as well as in the raucous explosions of an avant-gardist such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, to turn them all into one, to turn them his own, new, never-before-heard sound, so Pavlopoulos lingers in the usually shady, in their time, alleyways of untamed and idiosyncratic creativity, in elaborate children’s visual games such as “Where’s Wally?”, in folk paintings that once adorned working class coffee houses, and in an inversed (in the sense of inversion as attempted by Marx on Hegel’s dialectics, so that it could stand as it should) pop art, which he imbues with a subversive meaning that it didn’t originally have and, arguably, didn’t want to have, in order to make this not-at-all accidental jumble his own and offer it to us dynamically, restoring whatever was important and trashing (I feel like using a bit of slang, all of a sudden) anything that was worth nothing but being trashed.

Finally, and thirdly, what comes to mind, perhaps through the process of some ethyl alcohol-saturated associative pseudo-synaesthesia, is the work of an important Greek author, Panagiotis “Pete” Koutrouboussis, who, as I happen to know, also loves Dada and in his direct, magnificently original and full of soul-lifting humour short stories, engrafts it with things he read in his childhood and adolescence, with the outrageous feats of the heroes of so-called paraliterature, with Karaghiozis [Greek shadow theatre character], with the noir of Black Mask, with high as well as disgracefully low moments from science fiction, with the hybrid language of certain ancient translations of the works of Jules Verne, and the slang of the rebetes. What’s cute about this is that it certainly looks like the painter Pavlopoulos is the visual arts equivalent of the author Koutrouboussis, and vice versa, but it also happens that Koutrouboussis is a painter, too, and, indeed, a very good one, while Pavlopoulos also writes and, again, indeed, very, very well!


It Made Me Lose Myself

That’s precisely what the Art of Pavlopoulos does to me, it makes me lose myself. Here is the entire paragraph from Andreas Apostolidis’s book “Ta Polla Prosopa tou Astynomikou Mythistorimatos” (the many faces of a detective novel, Agra, 2009), whence the phrase was gleaned, so that I make slap-you-in-the-face clear what I mean (and which I now consider the most essential mission / function / attack of Art): “I took pills, pills that made me kill her, because I was mad, I did it out of madness… I killed her because she was a devil. She put spells on me. She wanted me to die. She made me lose myself”. Art, as ministered by Pavlopoulos, pushes us past the boundaries of our rational actions, since it transports us, all at once, and at dizzying speeds, to the Past, the Present and the Future, both of Art and of Life, adopting a tragic optimism, which means it keeps its eyes open and its humour at the ready before anything ugly and destructive, before the many dead-ends and the many traps all around us.

It makes me lose myself, since it makes me escape, redemptively, from the now of myself (obligations, errands, thoughts, worries, daily struggles), and takes me straight back to my childhood years with a hero such as, for example, Zorro (see Fuck the System / Fuck the Police), only to pluck me quickly out of there and send me hurtling into cabaret landscapes fused with memories of the… Byzantium (Byzantium Blues), it takes me on another tour of childhood, playing with the contemporary trends of Art (Minnie Mouse / I Have an Authentic Minimal Art), to send me, again, to the Berlin that we love (Revolution by Night), and then leave me high and dry to go get drunk with the Ultimate Master of Laughter (I’m drinking beer with my friend, Karl Valentin). That’s how it makes me lose myself, with extreme moves in time and space, and with consecutive / endless / incessant comments on the Then and the Now of Art.

If I were to relate the work of Pavlopoulos to a single masterpiece of music, it would be a short one (although, abolishing time temporarily, it expands immeasurably through its duration), “The Laughing Record”, from 1922, where Karl Valentin, along with Liesl Karlstadt, laugh in a way that urges you to re-examine everything you know about Art, everything you hold certain about Life.


George-Ikaros Babassakis
December 2009

* From the catalogue of Tassos Pavlopoulos’s exhibition “Raptomichanika – Painting on Paper 2008-2009”, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, 2010.
[1] “It was night. I went home and put my old house clothes on and set the chessmen out and mixed a drink and played over another Capablanca. It went fifty-nine moves. Beautiful cold remorseless chess, almost creepy in its silent implacability.” See Raymond Chandler, “The High Window”.
[2] Gregory J. Markopoulos, Voustrofidon (and Other Writings)”, Agra, 2004.
[3] Nikos Triantafyllidis, “Ptoliethron Lero (Conversations with George-Ikaros Babassakis)”, forthcoming
[4] Tassos Pavlopoulos, Make Love… Not Art!, (See “Meta-Zorro”), Ygres Ekdoseis, 1996
[5] Tassos Pavlopoulos, Make Love… Not Art!, op. cit.