White on White and an existential crisis.

“You cannot eat art”

my mother often said, until I turned seven and started drawing. I was good at it. She picked up on that and although she did not consider it a useful asset, she supported me. She paid for art lessons. She bought me books about art. She took me to galleries. I grew up and had already decided that I wanted to be professionally involved in the arts. That was a battle. Because you cannot eat art.

At the age of seventeen, to fight the insecurity generated by my professional choices, amidst the Greek crisis, I decided to study Graphic Design. My mother still doesn’t understand exactly what it is I do for a living, but she is satisfied.

On the first day of Graphic Design School, the professor showed us this white square in a white square and dropped the question:

“Is this art?"

Brutal responses shot in from all around: “This is just a white canvas!” “This is the laziest exhibit of art!” “Well if you are good at marketing, you can call a white napkin art!” I was terrified to express my opinion, and just mumbled under my breath

“It’s quirky, I like it.”

Malevich's “White on White” was the first time I asked myself what art is. How do you define it? What are the standards it has to meet to qualify? How does it shape our consciousness as individuals and as parts of a greater societal structure? Can you eat the damn thing after all? I kept looking at it, feeling so disappointed. I started thinking I had made a great mistake to go for a career in the arts. It felt deceitful, meaningless and superficial. As I was staring at it, I felt it staring back at me and for a moment I thought I could hear it mocking my despair. And then I saw it. It wasn’t just a white box inside a white box. It was a white box trying to escape the white box. It was fighting against the walls of its surroundings. Was it being pulled by the external or was it pushing the internal? It started moving right in front of my eyes – I could see the struggle of a poor white box trying to exceed its limits. More questions started forming. Does it really have any limits? Is this just what my perception of reality allows me to see? Just because I cannot see past it, is there nothing beyond it? Is that white square a hero? Is that white square me? Could it be me? I realised that art is a reflection. Art is a dot in a vast space, deciding where to go next.

Art is the way we can express how we perceive existence when creating it and the multiple perceptions of existence when we are consuming it.

And from that day I started looking at my own life as if it was art. It’s quirky, I like it.