Jahn und Jahn and Encounter are pleased to present Trans Soleil, a solo exhibition by Alexi Tsioris (1982, Athens. Lives and works in Munich) spanning across the 6 exhibition rooms of Rua de São Bernardo 15. The show includes diverse series of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper created over the last decade. The following conversation has been conducted by Alexander Caspari (Encounter) and Tim Geissler (Jahn und Jahn) and points out not only different moments in the artist’s practice but also certain tendencies that can be observed throughout the displayed pieces. It was in fact a shared engagement with the work of Tsioris that originally brought about the exchange between the two galleries which has now resulted in a shared exhibition space in Lisbon.
Tim Geissler (TG): How would you see the connection between sculpture, which was your artistic beginning, and your paintings, that developed much later?
Alexi Tsioris (AT): Actually, I don't see a beginning in one medium from which another then emerges... rather, drawing has always been available to me as a substrate for other specific possibilities. The possibilities that grew out of the drawings have always inherently produced keys for developments in sculpture or canvas.
Alexander Caspari (AC): I believe your paintings, as well as being compositional and pictorial, are in some ways quite sculptural, particularly in terms of material process and approach. For instance, in the Sgraffito works you scratch, carve or polish the painterly surface - in other more impasto works there is a certain weight and material density, a fundamental build-up of matter and information. Do you make any distinction between these traditional categories of painting and sculpture, or do you think that they join up in your practice?
AT: Both. The reason that exists somewhere in the appreciation of art is sometimes molecularly stripped for me. Meanwhile, this pivotal point gets lost in a kind of web where the thread is then absorbed somewhere by the mass and almost disappears.
TG: Figuration is currently a trend and yet it is a manner of painting that at least to me, makes me quickly perceive its limits. What do you find exciting about your motifs and what do you think is so important about showing them to the world?
AT: ..."Showing the world" means that this particular perception pushes itself through some outlets which, within the framework of certain exhibition scenarios, try to present art. There might then be acknowledgements or not. This depends also on the fact that certain work processes are, to a certain extent, only read on the surface and are, all the while, already very distorted in comparison to what took place during the creative process. In fact, in my studio I notice how a completed painting is seen differently already after a week, which then creates all kinds of reasons for me to dismantle the figure and then immediately construct something new from this debris. The decision whether to make a figure or not is then of secondary importance to me.
AC: Could you speak a little about what you have previously called your 'private alphabet' and what it means to you? I like the sensation that the figures become bodies consisting of multiple imaginings or ideas. It seems to me that these signs and symbols operate like a language or grammar but an internal one. There are some clear references to classical antiquity, and the history of early 20th century painting as well as games and puzzles.
AT: That's right, we already talked about this at the "Line Languages" exhibition in London in 2022. To me, the alphabet is a precise designation up to the point where, after creating and installing the work, it distorts itself or tilts away. Like a snake that bites its own tail. Uroboros. Or you could imagine talking to someone or to yourself and then, at some point in the conversation, you no longer understand your own language. So it's inherently about the words and the alphabet. But drawing is also just a physical and very fluid process which to me may always uphold the claim to be cryptic. I seem to understand that you get the impression I am analyzing (e.g. the 20th century). In part, yes. But not specifically compositionally or even conceptually.
AC: I agree of course, that is why your analogy of spoken language is so appropriate… These phrases can carry multiple different understandings or remain entirely coded depending on who is listening.
I know that several of your monotypes shown in the exhibition are made on Japanese paper. What is it about this material which appeals to you and when did you start working with it? It seems to have a certain delicacy and translucency that other materials such as bronze or canvas don't share.
AT: Yes, for sure this medium is perfect for very delicate and difficult accumulations, cross-sections and extracts. It started around 2017 and the first monotypes were shown in the exhibition "Flaum & Splitter" at Jahn und Jahn in the same year.
AC: I am interested in your comments about accumulations and extracts. How do you think these themes may extend materially and conceptually throughout your different works? For me, the paper works become very intriguing when occasionally the forms are built up and reworked to almost the point of erasure - they become like traces of remembered thoughts or ideas. In your new works on raw linen these accumulations and erasures seem to appear in a different way - ideas are mapped out and then buried again under a new thought or form.
AT: I came across the raw linen works completely by chance when I splashed some coloured paint onto the back of a canvas. The lines began to float strangely on the unprimed fabric. I wanted to build on this and in the process, I came across these "erasing movements" which didn't erase at all but did rather the opposite, in other words, they spread. I then proceeded to replace, for example, some physiognomies, because at that time and according to my world of ideas, they somehow appeared to me and, as “killed paintings”.
TG: This exhibition can be seen as an ‘overview' of your artistic work over the years. What interests you when you look back at your own practice and see that so many works have come together?
AT: I sometimes think about the interchangeability of imagination and reality... and also about where exactly their points of contact are and where they wear each other off. I don't see my works as more or less successful trophies of any given train of thought or synaptic affect. Rather, over time I notice a flow, a movement that sometimes moves quiescently and barely noticeably and then again very quickly. I am caught by this kind of rhythm again and again.
Alexi Tsioris (*1982 in Athens) lives and works in Munich. 2002–2008 Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich; 2009 DAAD fellowship, Tokyo; 2011 Art Prize of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Munich; 2019 Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis, Bildende Kunst (Bavarian Arts Prize, Fine Arts). Selected Exhibitions: 2022 & 2020 Livie Fine Art, Zurich; 2022 Encounter & Richeldis Fine Art, London; 2021 Arnol- di-Livie, Munich; 2020 BBK, Galerie der Künstler, Munich; 2019 Jahn und Jahn, Munich; 2018 Kunstpavillon Alter Botanischer Garten, Munich; 2018 Artothek & Bildersaal, Munich; 2017 Galerie Jahn Baaderstrasse, Munich; 2017 Salon International Des Arts Festival De Bobanisme, Paris; 2015, 2009 & 2006 Galerie Christine Mayer, Munich; 2015 Kunstpavillion, Innsbruck; 2015 Kunstarkaden, Munich; 2015 Rathausgalerie, Munich; 2014 Klosterkirche, Traunstein; 2014 V8 Plattform, Karlsruhe; 2013 Galerie Weltraum, Munich; 2013 Kunstverein, Weiden; 2012 Akademie der Schönen Künste, Residenz, Munich; 2009 Istanbul Biennial; 2009 Kunstverein, Munich; 2006 Golden Pudel Club, Hamburg.