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Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Nikolas Ventourakis - La Petite Mort Americaine

Oct 04, 2017

The Burger, the Muscle car, the Cowboys, the coin operated Phone, the motel Alarm Clock they all operate as signifiers and signified simultaneously.


“la petit mort américaine” confronts the hyper-reality of cliches and history. The short intense satisfaction, that remains inconclusive and has to be experienced again and again like an orgasm. That which makes the most sense in the moment, but is lost and longed for until its repetition. The narratives, which invariably collapse when one attempts to realise them in the flesh, having existed more in a common subconscious, transform in real life eruptions of violence.


A backlash of anger fuelled by disappointment – evident every time the failings of the American Dream lead to political and social reactionary movements like the ones that we experience now. Movements that the west, being completely enamoured with the romanticisation of “America”, forgot to consider as real. Our fallacy lies in a miscalculation of the essence of the citizens of that place, whose memories and experiences we share as simulacra.


This body of work is part of wider research on the construction and sharing of narratives. It was created during my time as a Fulbright Fellow at the California Institute of the Arts.

Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

Paul’s Nature Books

Oct 09, 2017 - Nikolas Ventourakis

With Paul we met during our MA at Central Saint Martins in London. He’s from Berlin – no, really, he did actually grow up there! – and his way of working could not be more radically different that mine. He is impulsive, present and connects with people. His eye is examining, but also he prefers not to overanalyse in advance. There is wonder about the world in his photography. His two most recent books are titled Wildlife Photography and Schmetterlinge (Butterflies). In his own words, in an interview he gave, he is not interested in nature photography or the exotic. Sometime his work – because it takes place in faraway places – might seem to simply depict the orient and the savant. That, however, is not true. His work is very urban and the rythm of the city is apparent. A couple of years ago he was visiting Athens and it was the first time I saw him working in the field. He was dancing. Whenever I find myself in a place I deal with the narratives that pre-exist within me and I spend more time analysing those in contrast to the physicality of my presence. Paul dives straight in and through his process analysis the environment around him.


Paul Hutchinson (b.1987) is an artist living and working in Berlin. He is a graduate of University of the Arts, Berlin, GER and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK. He has published three books with The Green Box. He has exhibited widely and is currently the selected artist for the Deutsche Oper Berlin commission. His accolades include selection for the Berlin Masters, the ILSE-AUGUSTIN FOUNDATION grant and the Eberhard Roters Grant for Young Art 2016.

Untitled, acrylic, spray paint and silkscreen on canvas, 200x150 cm, 2016 courtesy of the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens-Thessaloniki.

iPhones and Mirrors

Oct 08, 2017 - Nikolas Ventourakis

With Panos we met by chance at an art show in Los Angeles. He was doing an art residency at the Hooper Projects in downtown LA, having been invited to spend a few month there and produce new work in a huge studio space. Panos had studied in Vancouver and was living in New York before coming to California, so he was not coping that well with the eternal heat of the place. He invited me over to his studio to see the work-in-progress pieces. I immediately fell in love with them, being big layered canvases of black on black. His process is that he creates compositions of mirrors, inspired by the myth of Narcissus, and then photographs them using an iPhone instead of a high end camera, the tool that we use as our modern day mirror. He then prints the image, rephotographs it, reprints it again and again, until all reflectivity of the mirrors disappears. I was amazed by the fact that he was doing such dark work in a place like Los Angeles, nevertheless it made sense; The city of angels is boiled in vanity juices. Panos is an artist that works with a multitude of media. Photography has never been in the centre of his praxis, however, it has informed his latest works – including XAOS, and the now famous series of New York Times front pages covered in golden leafs. I enjoy very much looking at the work and even more to see how he uses the medium that I have the greater experience in, for he has no reservations from his formal training in how a camera and an image can be transformed and reformatted.


Panos Tsagaris (b. 1979, Athens, Greece), lives and works in New York and Los Angeles. Tsagaris received his BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design in Vancouver, Canada. His artworks are part of public and private collections and his solo and group shows are too many to list here but are easy to find online if one is interested to check his bio. He is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens and Thessaloniki.

Flamingos by Stelios Kallinikou

The Lines and The Flamingos

Oct 06, 2017 - Nikolas Ventourakis

Between 2013 and 2016 I was working on what became my body of work: “Defining Lines”. It is a project about landscape, space, cyberspace, borders. I worked at and near the British Sovereign Area of Akrotiri in Cyprus, a semi-autonomous region belonging to the UK. The last relic of the colonial occupation of the island by the British Empire. I had been spending most of my time on the area near Lady’s Mile, a beach that lies within the UK space, which is a popular destination for families with kids. At the time the project I was working on had a different focus point – the internet, augmented reality, GoogleMaps, the actual border line did not play a crucial role in it. When two things happened. First of all a happy accident. It is usual for me to use my phone to make field notes. I take pictures with my iPhone,which are geotagged so that I can trace locations in the future. One day I was taking pictures of a boulder and after I made one shot from one angle, I moved about two meters the other way and took a second photo. Amazingly the two images were shown to have been taken in different countries. One in the UK and one in Cyprus. That event led to the transformation of what I was working on before into ‘Defining Lines’. The second event was a bit similar to the situation I described on my first blog post. A good friend, Cypriot artist Stelios Kallinikou, was, unbeknown to me, working concurrently on a project of his own at the same area. Stelios is living in Nicosia, but is originally from Limassol and he grew up next to the BSA. We got in touch and started discussing our projects and how each one of us developed them. We exhibited together in a group show at the House of Cyprus that we initiated, and we kept exchanging ideas and comments in an on and off manner. After two years he produced a self published book that you can find at his artist run space Thkio Ppalies. It’s called Flamingo Theater. For this post I asked Stelios to choose one picture from the series to publish. He chose to my astonishment the “Flamingos”. The Flamingos are quintessential to the place, both due to their importance in the natural reserve, but also due to the political implications – the local RAF force is using it as it’s squadron name. Yet, in all the time that I was there, I chose to ignore them. They have been completely absent from my work. Their concurrent centre stage in Stelio’s work prepares, perhaps, the ground for a fascinating discourse on narratives and image making in an artistic context.


Stelios Kallinikou (b.1985) is an artist living and working in Nicosia, Cyprus. He is the cofounder, together with Peter Eramian, of the artist run space Thkio Ppalies. He has exhibited in numerous shows including more recently a solo show at the Point Centre for Contemporary Art, and was selected for The Equilibrists group show organised by DESTE Foundation and the NEW MUSEUM at Benaki Museum, Athens.

Untitled from the series "Newspaper from the American West", Antonis Theodoridis, 2014

About ‘America’ with Antonis Theodoridis

Oct 05, 2017 - Nikolas Ventourakis

It was shortly after the new millennium. We were at a film festival in Athens, Greece, with some friends, waiting for the short films section to start. There was some time to waste and as was usual we were discussing our ideas for the movie we were soon going to shoot. We were very excited as we were confident that the script we had would make for a great film. The lights went out and two hours of some amazing and more mediocre movies played on. It was the next to last short that ruined the whole evening for us. It was a 5 minute experimental film and to our dismay the premise was exactly the same as our idea. My friends and I were devastated. The idea was not novel anymore, and people would be accusing us of stealing it from someone else that had already done it. We never made that film together- or any film to be honest.

Fast forward to 2016. It’s been a few months since I returned to Europe from my Fulbright Artist Fellowship at CalArts in California. Antonis and I are having a coffee and discussing our experiences from our time the States – he did the same fellowship a year before me in New York. The more we talked, the more we were amazed about all the cliches that we encountered by chance, but also about how many more of them we were actively chasing on our own. We shared an almost identical view of the place and of our time there. Yet, it was impressive to see how differently we interpreted the whole thing and how we held a heterogenous approach to narrative and image making.  In the end we decided to make an exhibition together. It was hosted in CAN Gallery, Athens and a few more artists were invited to participate. In contrast to my younger self, I was genuinely excited and intrigued with seeing works by people that were in a way ‘competing’ with mine. Not to mention that in the exchanges we had, probing and testing each other against our theory and praxis both projects ended up being much more than what they were when we first found out that we worked on similar themes.

Antonis Theodoridis is a photographer from Drama, Greece. He studied Digital Media at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and currently is finishing his MFA at the University of Hartford, CT. His new series Ways of Escape (2017) which is a work in progress is shot in Athens, and I’m beyond intrigued and waiting to see the final outcome.