portrait of the artist Yorgos at Shoreditch Modern

Not often do we get the chance to experience art, be it contemporary or street art, that makes us feel hopeful. With his minimal intertwined figures, Yorgos effortlessly straddles the line between fine art and graffiti, gifting a moving and joyful experience to viewers from all walks of life.

Shoreditch Modern has had the honour of showcasing Yorgos’ work both inside its walls, as part of the Grit & Gloss exhibition, and outside, thanks to his mural.

We also took the chance to ask him some questions about his past, present and future artistic journey:

What are the key themes in your work?

My themes are mainly about people, about equality, about sexuality. The bodies for me represent a connection and how we pressure ourselves. We think we are very serious. We think our life is very serious. We don’t realize that we’re here for a few short moments. And then we’re out. We make our lives so complicated, instead of making our lives simple. We are just humans, that’s all! And we’re equal. That’s why my work relates to equality, as well as connection and interaction. 

What is your artistic process?

I do a lot of sketches on paper, and I think “I’ll do this one or that one tomorrow”. But when I pick up the brush, straight away I’m doing something different. On very few occasions, I do the thing that I had in my mind, but usually, I don’t follow the sketch. It’s always tabula rasa. I leave my hand to follow its own path and so far, it’s led me to good places, I think!

Body Heat, a painting by Yorgos exhibited at the art gallery Shoreditch Modern

What led you to become an artist?

I started painting from a very young age, stereotypically. I was not an easy child so my mother was always putting me in front of a painting, she would give me a pen or brush and say: “Start drawing and just be quiet”. I was drawing whatever I could see. Afterwards, I developed myself and I was always painting figurative works. People, faces… even at school and at university. Later, I studied motion graphics and illustration. Then I found my way to use painting as a medium for self-expression. I first did mostly canvas paintings with acrylic and oil. Even now in my murals I mainly use paintbrushes, I don’t use spray cans often. That’s what makes my murals unique because most street artists use spray.

How did you start doing street art?

It was during the pandemic. The shops were closed and then everything was online… I was talking to a friend of mine in Greece, and he told me: “Why don’t you do small stickers and go around London to stick them on the walls or the shops?” So I started to do that, actually. Then someone who is quite active in supporting artists in East London found some of my stickers and he told me: “Do you want to do a bigger scale?” At the beginning, I thought he meant bigger on canvas, and I said yes. He replied: “No, no, not on a canvas. On a wall!” I had never done a wall in my life before, but I thought, why not? I did my first wall with him, and from that day, the scale became bigger and bigger and bigger! So that was my journey as a street artist… by accident. That’s why I always believe in nice accidents. You need to go with the flow and embrace what the universe gives to you.

 

What’s the difference between painting a mural and painting on canvas for you? 

Doing a mural is very cathartic. You see people coming up to you, they give you a kind word. It’s a very nice feeling. You know, when I paint on canvas, I’m alone in a very private space. But when I’m doing a mural, it’s like acting. It’s you and the audience, like a performer. On top of that, you give people happiness. I had a message from a pregnant lady who told me: “When I walk every day in front of your mural, I feel very relaxed.” So for me, it’s something that I give to the people. That’s the point of being an artist, to give something. And in my opinion, it’s up to the audience to judge your art and to give you the title of “artist”.

The artist Yorgos painting a mural on the façade of art gallery Shoreditch Modern

Where do you want to take your art next?

I want to develop myself as an artist, but I don’t want to be a political artist. I don’t think I’m the right person to make political statements. I leave it to other people. To make a statement, you need to be very well-informed. And at the end, your work will be seen, and you need the message that comes across to be the right one. That’s why mainly I like to produce nice work, to develop myself as an artist, always to search, always to push myself in different directions and to make people feel satisfied with my work. I want to be creative, to carry on what I’m doing. We’ll see how that goes!

 

Yorgos is one of three participating artists in Shoreditch Modern’s group exhibition, Grit & Gloss, which will be open to the public until March 8th 2024. Find out more about the selected artwork by Yorgos: