Costas Tsoclis: From the Early Days to Living Painting, NFTs and Beyond

Thursday 21 Mar 2024

Acclaimed artist Costas Tsoclis comes to London for the first time since 1975. Join him for an intimate journey through his contemporary art creations to the recent NFT innovations and beyond. Witness the fusion of artistry and digital exploration. Irini Mirena Papadimitriou, Creative Director at FutureEverything, will moderate a conversation and Q&A with Costas Tsoclis.   

Educated at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Tsoclis’ career has transitioned from traditional painting to avant-garde ‘Living Painting’ and, most recently, to NFTs. 

Conceived in 1985, Tsoclis’ ‘Living Painting’ blends static painting with dynamic illuminated projections, earning praise from critics such as Bruno Corà. This art form has evolved from animating paintings to creating interactive and digital environments, showcasing Tsoclis’ innovative spirit. 

Tsoclis will explore his journey from contemporary art to NFTs, along with his personal and professional experiences. His path – from his formative years in Athens to transformative periods in Rome, Paris and Berlin, and eventually establishing his museum in Greece – reflects not only the diversity but also the unique aspects of his art. 

The last appearance made by Tsoclis in London was in 1975 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Exhibition: Eight Attitudes, Eight Greeks, with participating artists: Stephen Antonakos, Vlassis Caniaris, Chryssa, Jannis Kounellis, Pavlos, Lucas Samaras, Takis, Costas Tsoclis.

Joining the panel discussion is Chrysanthi Koutsouraki, Director of the Costas Tsoclis Museum, and Spyros Galanis from Nelum.

This event is in collaboration with Nelum.

Additional information

About Costas Tsoklis

A biographical note from Costas Tsoclis: 

I was born in 1930 and lived my childhood in an Athens of red hot summer noons—a city that was yellow, dry, dangerous, poor, Greek-centric, fascist. Between the ages of 10 and 15, I came to know war at first hand—the German occupation and the civil war, the desperate fight to survive in a world of the dead and the crippled, the impoverished and the immoral; humiliated beggars and traitors, but also proud, misguided Communist fighters. Aged 14 to 18, I slaved away in the service of master craftsmen who specialized in adorning cinemas. At 18, I entered the Athens School of Fine Arts, where for six years I was taught a formal academic Art, free of artistic exuberance. I lived in extreme poverty, but came to know love and friendship, and extolled their virtues with immense enthusiasm and passion. At 24, I was drafted and wasted two of the best years of my life. But I did make two or three wonderful paintings in those two lost years, learned Italian, and won a three-year state scholarship that permitted me to leave Greece as a cultural migrant. In 1957, I married an interesting and beautiful woman, Fania Kaplanidou, who was far more developed academically and socially than I, and to whom I owe a lot. Because, until her death in 1968, she helped me to stand on my own two feet and gave me our only daughter, which is to say the physical continuation of my being. For 11 years, we lived the miracle that was Rome and Paris together. 

But there, around 1964-65, something changed inside me-something I can’t define (could it have been my paternal responsibilities?). And while everything in life and Art had been coincidental and spontaneous for me until then, they would be conscious and deliberate from now on. I began to control my feelings, my desires, my work. And then, out of the blue, came success. 

A success I owe to Michael and Ileana Sonnabend and a few other art dealers who believed in me. Belgium, Italy and Germany supported me and began to buy my works, to write about me, stage exhibitions, become friends. The French, on the other hand, still had their reservations. Indeed, the whole, vast Paris art scene yielded just two friends: José Pierre at the start of my career and, later, Pierre Restany. All the others were simply acquaintances. 

In 1971, I left for Berlin, where I lived, worked and exhibited in another reality for 18 months. And I spent 1971 and 1972 there, living with Eleni (the mature love of my life and a collaborator in my work) and my daughter Maya, as a family, on a DAAD scholarship. When I returned to Paris, Alexandre Iolas entered my life. It was a fateful meeting, which would have an enormous impact on my international career, and he would remain close until 1986, shortly before his death. In 1973, Eleni and Maya returned to Athens, and for 12 years I divided my time between Paris and Athens, gradually shifting my focus away from my international presence and towards my presence in Greece.  

A mistake? From one viewpoint, most certainly. But from another, maybe not. What would I have done living as an eternal exile in Paris or New York? And what did I really achieve in Greece, among real friends and enemies? That’s a question that has no answer, but will torment me always. 

I’ve made a lot of art since 1985, when I came back to Greece to stay. Some good, some middling, some bad. And in there among them, some 20 works which have taken it on themselves to save my name and, I’d like to believe, the Greek participation in Art worldwide over my lifetime. 

But there comes a time when today is no longer a good fit for you, or doesn’t want you any longer, when its images change so quickly you don’t have time to grasp and process them. Only yesterday seems immobile (a pillar of salt), so you can see it, understand it, work on it. Perhaps tomorrow, too, will give you some time to observe, until it falls on you like an avalanche, sweeping you away and burying you. Sometimes you become today, or so you think. Which is how you secure a place in the past, transformed from a living organism into an indicative—usually misleading and hence hopeful—arc. Because every good prediction kills the unexpected. But don’t we always expect the unexpected from Art? 

In 2010, the museum that bears my name opened its doors on Tinos. There, we organize (with Chrysanthi Koutsourakis, who runs the museum) and exhibit a different period of my work every year, which helps me to really know myself and puts me in touch with another audience I hadn’t encountered till then. Meaning people for whom Art is either a rare luxury or something that doesn’t – or, at least, didn’t – interest them. And yet, these people are sometimes moved by my works and my writings, and do not hesitate to tell me and show it. 


The Hellenic Centre


Free | Bookings via Eventbrite or 020 7563 9835