Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Student Showcase Archive

Giorgos Kontis

PhD Work

PhD work

  • Exhibition view, Bow Arts

    Exhibition view, Bow Arts, 2017

  • Exhibition view, Ruimte Caesuur (NL)

    Exhibition view, Ruimte Caesuur (NL), 2014

  • Untitled

    Untitled, 2017

Authenticity | Painting Ontologies and the Threatening Image

Research Question

The artist is, primarily, a construction and we may even say an outcome, of his/her heritage, of the cultural context in which he emerges. What gives birth to him, simultaneously, confines up to a point his freedom. The context creates, and gives form to the artist, though, imposes him the way he should function, the guidelines of his activity. In addition to that and, particularly, after poststructuralism and after the linguistic revolution, subjectivity and individuality have been rigorously questioned, and instead of man being perceived as a conscious subject it is the linguistic subconscious that determines his every act. Has, through that, any notion or claim of authenticity and originality been cast away? Can the notion of authenticity still be questioned and researched in contemporary art discourse? As well as, how does the making of a rather esoteric form of abstract painting become affected, in what seems to be a threatening of the sovereignty of its maker?



The making of art comes along with a sense of repetition; instead of a Tabula Rasa there is a confrontation and an endeavour in dealing and being in a dialogue with the past and the spectres that come along with it. The past as both heritage and burden, and a repetition that is inevitable yet impossible as well; the work of art rooted in tradition, yet an ever-changing one with a sense of its aura being constantly redefined. Formalism after semiotics, medium specificity and a sense of materiality that becomes questioned and explored; expanded forms of painting in an endeavour to trace their relationship and its continuity with the past, as well as with the present that hosts and witnesses that and is itself flexible and in a state of flux.

A coexistence of the work with the past and within the cultural context. And, a question about how seemingly traditional forms of art, such as painting, function in relation to their present; being, simultaneously, in an open dialogue with the past and the history of their medium, and the heritage that follows it. The matter here is not a case of medium specificity, it is rather a state of flux of the aesthetic function of the work and how this is intertwined with the conditions that surround its making; a relationship between the work and its ground, whatever this may be.

Authenticity is a charged notion that can often lead to misunderstandings due to the different ways it has been addressed and used in the past. It is a notion that has been linked to religion, spirituality or the pursuit of an underlying truth, and even to totalitarianism. The question on authenticity becomes a challenge about what can be regarded as New or a contribution to the already existing and about a form of making that can produce that, besides any simplistic allegations on what is often regarded as original or handmade creation.

What becomes fundamental in this process is the notion of the Image along with its function and the way it relates to both its maker and beholder. The image seems to take a much more active role than plainly having a passive stance as in a mere semiotic function; it moves beyond the role of a signifier and rather than just being looked at gains its own agency and gaze and looks back at the viewer. It takes, in this way, an emancipated form and becomes animated. Through the autonomy the image gains the making of it takes rather the form of an encounter with it, and the image, eventually, threatens the authority of its maker upon it.

The struggle of the artist to redefine his agency and role within the existence of the language of his medium and to utter an individual logos becomes proliferated through the constraints of the cultural and sociological context that surrounds him. A struggle that seems to be intensified in the recent years where a language that stems from a corporate or financial world seems to be dominating and become implemented on any endeavor to find a personal language or voice; a multilayered hindrance that demands to be the centre of the artist’s attention, condemning functions different to it, such as daydreaming or wandering, to be leisure or wasted time.



  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Arts & Humanities Research, 2014–2018

  • The work of Giorgos Kontis focuses on abstract painting and on its function as an image. It becomes a contemplation on the autonomy the painted image gains, triggering questions on authenticity and the artistic agency. Giorgos studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts, at the Academy of Visual Arts (AdBK) in Munich and at the University of Arts (UdK) in Berlin. He holds an MFA from St.Joost Academy in Breda, Netherlands and he is currently doing a practice-based PhD in Painting, at the Royal College of Art London, on the notion of Authenticity.

    Recent shows include: The materiality of the painterly event, Municipal Gallery of Athens; Intervals of Stale Time, Lychee One Gallery London; Project 1 // On Authorship, Space-Projects, Amsterdam; Neither Innocent Nor Guilty, Daily Lazy Projects Athens; Hommage to Dimitris Condos, CAN Gallery Athens; Bow Open, Ian Kiaer's studio (solo project), Bow Arts London; Daybreak, Maverick Projects London; Close, Closer, Fading, Lychee One Gallery London; O, Kunstbuero, Vienna (with Just Quist); The Same Sky, Lepsien Art Foundation, Düsseldorf; Tender is The Night, CAN Gallery, Athens; Ab-stractions, Hellenic American Union Athens; Eurocontrol premises (solo), Brussels; Let Gooo project (solo), Ruimte Caesuur, Middelburg; Young Masters, Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium; The Static also is Electric, De Service Garage Amsterdam

    Talks include: Royal College of Art London, With Gilane Tawadros and Luc Tuymans; Rijksakademie Open Studios, Amsterdam, with Camiel van Winkel; Authenticity in the Act of Painting Symposium, De Pont Museum Tilburg, the Netherlands; Memory and Perception, Techne conference, Rich Mix London; The Threatening Image, SU Royal College of Art London; Artist’s talk Ruimte Caesuur, Middelburg, Netherlands; Zone d'Utopie Temporaire - ZUT Project, Yellow Brick, Athens
  • Degrees

  • BA Painting, Athens School of Fine Arts, 2009; Master of Fine Arts, St Joost Academy of Art and Design Breda, Netherlands, 2013