His parents used to work in the Greek army. At the same time they were both artists and creative minds. He studied in 13 different schools before deciding to study art at the Fine Art University of Derby in the Midlands of the UK, encouraged by renowned sculptor Nikos Stefos. Meanwhile, he was also a professional skater, a hip hop musician and worked a photographer for some time. But who is Thomas Tournavitis? We met him at his studio in a kind of dodgy area of Athens, one month before his solo show entitled "Cyclopia" at the JAVA gallery in Sarajevo (BiH) and had a long discussion with him during which he expressed himself passionately, pushing up the tone of his voice at some points that we couldn't understand what exactly motivated him to do so. Ok, he is a painter and a sculptor. Is he a true bohemian? An noncomformist? You can figure it out by yourselves by reading the interview he gave us below.
MM.: Would you call yourself urban, Thomas?
T.T.: Absolutely! I grew up in the streets and learned a lot from that, before deciding to take a turn and remain active but from a different position. In Greece, people push themselves to become a bum. I have a completely different approach over society and urban culture and my beliefs are depicted through two movies that I've made.
M.M.: Living abroad for seven years, did you feel to be more liberated personally and artistically?
T.T.: I come from a country that is the root of aesthetics and of "the line". Living in different countries in Europe, I felt more Greek and also a cosmic person.
M.M.: What was the most important thing that you enjoyed studying abroad?
T.T.: There were no political invasions in the universities.
M.M.: What is art for you?
T.T.: Inspiration is something that I have thought about a lot. An artist doesn't "need" inspiration. Inspiration is a lie. Art is just like you feel sleepy and you just fall asleep. It's like when you are hungry and you eat. It is an instinct.
M.M. Aren't you represented by a gallery?
T.T.: Kourd gallery in Lycabettus Athens is representing me. People don't really know it. I trust them though. They still have some quality and they are true gallerists, contrary to all others.
M.M. What is this that you don't like about Greek gallerists?
T.T.: Their aesthetics, that is average. Art is a dictator. Art can only lead you and show you where to go. Greek gallerists remain consistent to an average. They only do public relations and nothing else.
M.M. What kind of person are you, Thomas?
T.T.: I don't know.
M.M.: What do you think of the international art platform Remap, running at the moment in downtown Athens?
T.T.: I have satisfied my instincts long time ago. Remap is subculture for me. It is not an expression of aesthetics. I would prefer children to be given the chance to paint in these buildings in Athens and show new ways of thinking, new ways of living. I think Remap is a formula that cannot be original in Greece.
M.M.: Do you make a living from your art?
T.T.: Yes. And I have not put myself in any kind of competition.
M.M.: Do you feel free? Satisfied with yourself at the moment?
T.T.: I don't know if I am free. I know that I separate excitement from the readily implied happiness. And I do love playing from away.
M.M.: Why are the faces of the figures that you paint begrimed?
T.T.: There are no legible forms in my art. They are mostly chaotic in which one conjures a geometric shape that as a result gives you a text. The defacements are also an expression of my childishness. My childishness is following my maturity.
Text: Minas Minatsis
Photography: Christina Exarchou