February 5, 2004
AT GALLERIE LA HUNS BRENNER PARIS FEBRUARY 2004
The works I produce are
generally expressions of my own personality, they
do not try to depict a specific landscape, a person
nor an object, not are they meant as allegories.
One could say however that they are reflections or
even some kind of meditations.
My works on paper are of two kinds'
- Sketches or compositions made during meetings,
conferences, lectures etc. These are by their nature
created as a parallel occupation while I am listening
to the speaker or the proceedings. They are Doodles
although in my case Technicolor ones. I usually carry
a pouch with my marker pens with me. Making these
doodles helps me concentrate on the speaker and keeps
my mind from wandering away from the subject. These
doodles are not influenced by the theme or content
of the conference or meeting, but are compositions
on their own.
- Sketches or more complex compositions made in the
Generally speaking my works on paper are freer and
more spontaneous then the canvas paintings. This
is natural, as a work on canvas is more demanding
and more ambitious. I am sure this is so for practically
all painters. I believe that because they are spontaneous
they also have more fluidity and usually more space.
They are not so crowded and shapes and colours stand
out in a more pronounced way. They lend themselves
to proper framing and a frame that lets them breathe
gives them their own self contained presence. My
canvases are more tricky to frame as they usually
tend to overflow out of their borders. My Boxes and
my Canvas Boxes are not boxes of course but have
depth i.e. they are for example 35 x 35 x 5 cms or
3 x 30 x 4 curs with flat sides. The image continues
bending round the sides and the top and bottom. Thus
they are also objects, intimate ones, which can be
hung on small wall spaces, in bedrooms, dressing
rooms, kitchens, guest toilets, etc. The Boxes have
a surface of wood, and the Canvas Boxes of canvas.
These works are mostly jewel like and often humorous.
If enlarged, some of them might have been quite powerful
works on their own right, but they are small and
modest, something like an anecdote or a one verse
poem, not a novel or an epic.
There are seven graphic works, two screen prints
and five lithographs. My last lithograph, Byestanders,
was made in its coloured version first but then we
decided to do three gray variations; the first with
few colours, the second has also deep green and deep
bordeaux and the third also some red. The outline
is always the same. I found that the three gray variations
worked very well, maybe even better then the original.
I like making graphic works and I like the textures
of paper and inks. It also gives the possibility
of broader distribution of my work, especially to
younger people in a relatively inexpensive way.
I was asked "Why Carrousels"?
In a carrousel a succession of horses, elephants,
small cars, miniature carriages, deer, airplanes,
giraffes etc, go round and round. For the spectator
there is a succession of images and constant movement,
for the riders a feeling of motion but they get nowhere.
This show is also a succession of different works,
more varied than usual with I think, some fluidity.
Thus "Carrousels", I believe, is a good
title for an exhibition of many small, colourful,
sometimes humorous or whimsical pieces, which are
also different from each other.
The element of playfulness is stronger in these works
than in the larger ones. Their worlds are ones of
fantasy, fun, laughter and paradox. They refuse to
abide by the laws of our material world.
George Tsatsos - A short biography
George Tsatsos was born in Athens and educated in
Greece and Zurich where he graduated as a civil engineer.
He has had a career in industry, running cement companies,
and designing and building cement factories, distribution
centers and floating terminals in Greece, Egypt,
Cyprus, Arabia, Nigeria, Estonia, Poland etc. For
the last few years he has lived with his family in
London but they also have a home in Greece. He is
married to Zoe and they have four children and also
grandchildren. He remains active in business. Georges
career as an artist developed from his habit of doodling
in full colour during meetings, lectures, or whenever
obliged to sit for a long time. For the last twenty
years or so he has painted mostly in acrylics but
has refused to exhibit as he has considered this
activity private. He has had no formal art education.
George has also for many years collected contemporary
George sees his paintings as compositions, neither
abstract nor objective, but a research into shapes,
colours and geometric forms which are often ambiguous
or physically impossible. He also draws humorous
cartoons and illustrated original alphabets.
George exhibited for the first time in a one-man
show at the Bowman Gallery in London in October 2002.
In November 2002 he exhibited in New York at the
Agora Gallery, and has a further show scheduled in
Paris at the La Hune Brenner Gallery on the Place
St Germain des Pres from the 17th to the 28th February
Antic Metaphysical Abstractions of George A.
To the small, select group of
successful businessmen turned innovative painter
which includes Jean Dubuffet and Walter Gutman,
among others, we should now add the name of George
A. Tsatsos, born into a prominent Greek family
that includes a former president of Greece and
the well known artist Nico Ghika.
For many years Tsatsos had painted seriously but_
refused to exhibit his work. He was busy enough presiding
over his international business affairs and pursuing
a wide range of interests, including contemporary
art. Recently, however, he had a change of heart
and agreed to an exhibition at the Robert Bowman
Gallery, a prestigious venue in London, and will
also be exhibiting at the renowned Galerie La Hune
Brenner in Paris.
New Yorkers also had a chance to acquaint themselves
with the work of George A Tsatsos when he was the
subject of an exhibition at Agora Gallery 415 West
Broadway, in Soho. And what they saw was a mature
painter at the height of his powers with a style
so sophisticated that it is almost hard to believe
that he has been doing anything but painting steadily
over the years.
What immediately strikes one about Tsatsos' brilliantly
colored, hard-edged acrylic paintings is their intricacy
and their animation. Working with forms that seem
to morph from abstract to semi-figurative before
one's very eyes, Tsatsos fills his compositions with
a downright zany array of lively visual incidents.
One is never quite sure what is being alluded to
in the seemingly inexhaustible variety of cartoon-like
abstract shapes that Tsatso's is able to generate,
yet one is captured and intrigued by them.
For their intricacy and the suggestion of metaphysical
spaces in his paintings, Tsatsos has been compared
-to the great graphic artist M.C. Escher. While such
comparisons are not inaccurate, Tsatsos also boasts
qualities in common with Jean Miro, particularly
for his coloristic vibrancy and his ability to suggest
an entire cosmos heretofore unseen biomorphic life-forms
that fairly squirm and wiggle with an antic vitality.
Tsatsos transports us to a realm where lively shapes
appear constantly in motion. Bands of bright, comicstrip
color waver like flags blowing in a strong breeze
or writhe- and twist themselves in knots like serpentine
strands of electrified spaghetti. Luminous grids
wiggle like melting checkerboards. Angular shapes
float through the air like levitating machine parts
or robotic components on the verge of metamorphosing
into human form.
Precious few painters today possess anything like
Tsatsos' ability to suggest a narrative subtext while
maintaining a formal abstract autonomy. One gets
caught up in the almost apocalyptic energy of his
compositions, with their combinations of angular
and cursive forms, which play off against each other
with a lively, Helizapoppin intensity In almost any
given painting by Tsatsos, brilliant flame-like shapes
flare up against more stolid geometric elements,
while a wide and wild variety of other colorful,
baroque forms interact and interlock in an eye and
mind boggling chromatic orgy recalling Bob Dylan's
famous line, "Something is happening here but
you don't know what it is, do you, blister Jones?"
It is just this ability to shroud his intentions
in mystery while dazzling us with his formal virtuosity
that makes George A, Tsatsos a remarkable and fascinating
painter. One can only hope now that he has broken
the ice and decided to exhibit after working in private
for so long that he will continue to share his uniquely
animated vision, particularly in New York City where
his irrepress-ible energy and seemingly inexhaustible
inventiveness is sure to find an eager and appreciative
Wilson Wong. Gallery&Studio Vol.6 No3 February/March
There is no mistaking the presence
of Joln (CAP) Roberts, a vivacious man who has
been collecting works of art since he was a child.
I lis past collections include Civil War memorabilia
and American furniture dating back to the mid-eighteenth
century. But the current focus of his art collection
includes works from the American Southwest, Manhattan,
New York, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Roberts
divides the bulk of the collection between an apartment
in New York City and a country home in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania. "The main focus of my collection
represents the locales where I have lived," Roberts
Roberts recently purchased Pandora's Small Bang by
artist and friend George Tsatsos. "Clearly the
piece enhances my collation because of the very nature.
It has its own unique sparkle," said Roberts, "Every
time I look at the work, I see something new."
And no wonder, the cartoon-like geometric abstractions
of Tsatsos span pattern, cubism, and design much
like the architectural creations of M.C. Escher.
This synergy between collector and artist allows
for new visual perspectives. There is chaos and organization.
Structures are decomposed in random ways while preserving
the moment. His recent purchase suggests an explosion
on canvas, something that cannot be compressed into
its original volume. The constructs are not just
abstractions but detailed work of perpetual motion.
The work is very much like the artist himself. Tsatsos'
work has the confidence and technical mastery of
a lifelong painter.
" With George as the artist and my friend, I have a bit of my friend here
with me every day." Roberts said.
To his Mediterranean contemporaries
and colleagues, George Tsatsos is better known as
the "Captain of the cement industry" than
PostIndustrialist artist. Born into a high-profile
family in Athens whose distinguished members include
his cousin, the former President of the Republic
of Greece, Constantine Tsatsos (1975-80), and uncle
Nice Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, the most prominent 20th
century Greek painter, Tsatsos' first career was
not painting. Educated in Greece and Zurich, he received
a degree in civil engineering which he then put to
work in the cement industry managing cement companies,
and designing and building cement factories, distribution
centers, and floating terminals in Greece, Egypt,
Cyprus, Nigeria, Arabia, Estonia, and Poland. As
the captain of the cement industry, he brought Heracles
Cement, of which he was Managing Director, to the
position of the largest exporter of cement in the
Financially secure, Tsatsos became an avid art collector
with a special interest in contemporary art, especially
American Abstract Expressionism. Eventually, his
hobby of collecting art inspired him to pick up both
pencil and brush. Tsatsos first began drawing his
cartoon-like pieces as doodles during executive board
meetings, lectures, and other events
where he was required to sit for long periods of
time. Eventually his need for a more creative outlet
gave way and his office meeting sketches evolved
into full-scale designs. He has been painting regularly
now for the past twenty years, although choosing
not to exhibit, believing his pieces were intensely
private expressions of his own visions. Continuously
urged by friends and family to reconsider, Tsatsos
has recently decided to reverse his decision and
exhibit his pieces in public, citing: "Maybe
1 have now reached a maturity which permits me to
want to show my work publicly."
His work has been described as humorous cartoons
or illustrated original alphabets. His cast of strange
creatures includes flying lakes, lollipop rabbits,
shoulderless heads and characters, green horses amidst
fantastical geometric and architecturally abstract
settings. He refers to his pieces as "compositions," neither
abstract nor objective, but visual research into
shape, color, geometric form and pattern, as experiments
in the relationship between color, shape, and space.
His lack of formal training in the arts is seen by
Tsatsos and his critics as more a blessing than handicap,
responsible for his fresh and original designs. In
fact, his artwork has been found to be so unique
it warrants the designation of a new term, "Post-Industrial
Art," which Tsatsos finds both appropriate and
While he has no formal art education, he does highlight
the influence of artists including Fernand Leger,
Jean Dubuffet, Paul Klee, and the later works of
For Americans, especially those living in New York
City during the 1980's, the graffiti art of Keith
Haring with his socially conscious agenda and whimsical
characters may also come to mind. With one painting
Tsatsos recalls the stylistic patterns of Cubism,
carnivalesque whimsy of Miro, gravity defying designs
of Escher, and androgynous creatures of Haring. His
application of design, coloration, and ability to
bring to life the walls, roads, machines, and figures
which grace his canvases are all his own.
While best known for his whimsical worlds, Tsatsos'
work also demonstrates deference for his culture.
His piece Some Symmetries (Diptych) can be read as
homage to his rich cultural history referenced through
an abstracted form reminiscent of an Ionic column
recalling the tradition of stability and balance
(referenced in the title) associated with traditional
Greek culture. To requests for elaboration on his
pieces Tsatsos response is always, "they are
what the spectator wants to see in them and ... it
is up to the observer to decide on what they are
supposed to represent".
In addition to his canvases, Tsatsos has also produced
a children's book titled, An Alphabet for Analphabets,
using his unique, carnivalesque designs. He is currently
living in London with his wife and family where he
is involved in children's charities, donating proceeds
from his early exhibitions to KIDA a UK based charity.
George A. Tsatsos' work is an original
contribution by a member of a prominent Greek family,
which includes a president of Greece and the painter
Nico Ghika. Tsatsos himself, a "captain of the
cement industry" and international businessman,
with wide encyclopaedic interests including collecting
contemporary art, has been reluctant to exhibit his
work. However, he decided recently to exhibit with
London's prestigious Robert Bowman gallery and in February
2004 will be exhibiting at the renowned Galerie La
Hune Brenner in Paris. Tsatsos' work has all the confidence
and technical mastery of a lifelong painter. While
only exhibiting lately, his life of diverse activities
has rarely been without painting. Now, over twenty
years of commitment to art is manifested in his ingenious
cartoon-like geometric abstractions. His sensibility
spans across cubism, pattern and design, and M.C. Escher-like
architecture. Tsatsos' whimsical narratives entertain
formally and subjectively. He constructs not just abstractions,
but believable and intricately detailed carnivalesque
other worlds. From the most unlikely shapes, Tsatsos
brings to life connected roads, walls, figures and
machines. In a perpetual motion of abstract metropolitan
razzle-dazzle, his world of bright colored shapes inspire
awe and admiration.