An original creator of senses, a man of many faces, an artist of many talents with a huge prism of endless creativity. All constitutive elements of Papaioannou’s thematic palette are surrounded by surrealism, mythological creatures, metaphors and magnetic images. Mind and body always hold a central role in his dreams, traumas and creative obsessions.
If anyone searches his name online, he will encounter dithyrambic critics about his plays. As the French newspaper Le Figaro characteristically wrote, “ he is one of the four most important choreographers in the world”. The great impression of simplicity in his works arises by a great agony of body and spirit which always lead to a form of catharsis. Born in Athens, gained early recognition as a painter and comics artist, before his focus shifted to the performing arts, as director, choreographer, performer, and designer of sets and lighting. He was a student of the iconic Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis before studying at the Athens School of Fine Arts.
The broken body. Human body was always a white canvas for him and the main source of inspiration. Sculpted bodies, hybrid forms, fluidity, and fantastic creatures intermingle in his contemporary plays which oscillate between the absurd, surrealism, and dreams. Papaioannou creates unique, unforgettable worlds, he is not just a set designer; he is a meta-modern alchemist of images. The rules of symmetry but also the constant change of matter define his plays. According to his point of view, nothing is stable, especially the perspectives in life which are changing all the time. For him everything is fluid, under construction or under de-construction: no one can predict whether they will wake up in the same shape that they had yesterday.
Transverse orientation. The title of his latest play maintains the tendency of an object to keep a constant angle to a distant light source. It’s like a form of GPS that moths have as a survival instinct. They use a light source, which is merely the moon, in order to hold a constant angle and find their way. From the moment the human beings tamed the fire and invented electricity, they became disoriented and revolve around the lights. This acts like a metaphor for the spirituality and personal light of each person and humanity as a whole. A philosophical discussion between the creator and the viewer unravels. The hedonistic pleasures are the real fires, which show us the way for redemption and reveal to us the meaning of life. In the end, each of us chooses the flame which will burn them slowly from the inside.
There is not only one way of seeing the word. There is not only one, “correct”pathway, there is not only one story. There are many and Papaioannou knows it perfectly. Black and white are just two options among the variant shades in the world of light and shadow, two complementary elements which can give birth to a whole universe.The world-renowned choreographer, director and performer captures and reconstructs the sense of light through his creations. As an artist and composer does not look for permanent one sided roots but constantly makes polymorphic rhizomes: with stones, woods, reflections, liquids, solids, unexpected and unclassified compounds. Materials that emerge from the subsoil of bodies and are based on the labyrinth of the unconsciousness, where artificial barriers do not exist and the body meets other bodies, creating unprecedented formations that resist of stability and normalization.
“All I’m saying is that Picasso’s sexism is like an untameable bull: he leaves victims behind him. He bears gifts and he kills at the same time. This is Nature. Archetype of masculinity is not exclusively Greek, it can be found in all the oldest mythologies in the world. In turning the bull into Minotaur I am specifically pointing towards archaic Greece.”
Artist: Dimitris Papaioannou / @papaioannou_d
Words: Iro Bournazou / @irwb
Photos: Julian Mommert / @julianmommert