It’s not so much what type of visual artist Nikos Pantazopoulos is, it’s more to do with what he describes as his personal thread.
“Always in my work I play with two things,” Nikos tells Neos Kosmos.
“One is about the more inclusive nature of the citizen and the other one is a particular personal politic. So my projects always become inclusive to a larger community – that’s my personal thread.”
How he negotiates the city as such as someone of a Greek immigrant background, how he negotiates the city as a gay man, how this differentiates the way he views the world, the way his identity is constructed is spoken of in his work, as well as engaging said communities.
Nikos completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1998, then a Master of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London in 2007 and a PhD at Monash University in 2013. The mediums he uses change with the focus and context of the project he is working on and could be photographic, sculptural, documentary based or drawings – whatever inspires him with the given theme. But his cultural understanding of the world plays an important role in each project.
The visual artist talks about his ongoing project entitled ‘How to Make a Monument’ that incorporates The Spartan Monument as an example of his cultural heritage coming out in his work and Ongoing monument to indecent activities 399BC- (OMIA399BC).
The Spartan Monument was a project that came about because of his family connection to the Pallaconian Brotherhood, and his cultural awareness of the legacy of Leonidas.
“I was engaging and celebrating the way this group of people wanted to leave a legacy behind, so the familiarity with me was beyond the aesthetics of the project and more with the communal building of the project,” he explains.
Similarly the project Ongoing monument to indecent activities 399BC- (OMIA399BC) incorporates how he “negotiates the city as a gay men and deals with homosexual politics that are embedded in not only current political discourse but as a bigger part of the city and its politics since Plato”.
“[The project] is based on this idea that Plato wrote a book called The Laws and in the last days of his life he decided that homosexuals should be cast out of the city,” he says, adding that this book is one of the first documented conversations on homosexuality.
“So I was interested in using that as a benchmark to say, what are these illegal places where this community of people come together so their culture somehow sustains itself; it’s a horrible place to go but it’s the only place left – the toilet. So it’s not only about politics but it’s the aesthetics of architecture, so always in my work I play with two things.” This project grew out of researching the Fitzroy Gardens men’s toilet block that stands in the Treasury Gardens, Melbourne.
His current exhibition at The Substation, Newport, is three iterations of former projects. Nikos says that as an artist, he always revisits his past work and says that is part and parcel with his identity as a Greek.
“I go back and I try and learn from my past and that’s inherently part of Greek immigrant culture, it’s a psychoanalytical way I do my work.”
For more information on the work of visual artist Nikos Pantazopoulos and for current and future exhibitions visit www.nikpantaz.com/