In a little town, a few miles north east of Thessaloniki, sits a unique exhibition. Xanthi boasts many beautiful views, places to visit and a variety of shops and restaurants to cater all. But at 3 Mavromichali St, there is the aptly named The House of Shadow, an art exhibition that uses shadows to create masterpieces. This means that sometimes, when looking at the sculpture alone, it is very difficult to distinguish the true meaning of the art, until a light is projected towards it and the shadow makes beautiful imagery.
The House of Shadow was created in 2014 by Triantafyllos Vaitsis, who said that he decided to go into this industry because he “was working as a freelance environmental engineer… But I wasn’t satisfied by this job. I was empty. One day, I said to myself; ‘I will try to make my hobby a job’. The economic crisis in Greece helped me. I had less work… So, I had more time for experiments and creating. I started and I think that my choice was right.”
Many of the sculptures inside are predominantly made from recycled material/trash, referred to as ‘Trash Art’. Vaitsis, when asked why he uses such material, said “it is very interesting to work with materials which have their own shape. You have to try more and find the right way to use them. Moreover, I like to give them life again.” Using old pieces of garbage to create his sculptures, including tyres, scrap metals, and bits of plastic.
This idea had developed through time; “At first, Shadow Art was a hobby for me. I loved this kind of art. So, I spent more time searching, reading and making experiments… The results were great and people loved my work too. I had many proposals for exhibitions and orders. Each one of them is a new challenge.” This included a marriage proposal as one of his creations. A request made by a member of the public.
in 2008 he first discovered ‘trash art’ and with this he did some more research and came across ‘shadow sculpture.’ This form of art influenced his own ideas for the exhibition; many of his pieces combine the two to create a unique experience to all of its guests. One of his most breathtaking ideas is the sculptures of double shadow (contrast). For example, his piece the ‘Early Cycle’ depicts two different views. This particular sculpture originated from the poem ‘Ropes’ that Vaitsis had written in 1994.
Great is the joy of man
On two thick ropes,
Hanging on the branch of a tree,
Great is the misfortune of man
On two thick ropes,
Hanging on the branch of a tree.
The ‘Early Cycle’ creation present an ugly version of evolution, of life and death. The piece begins with a foetus (visualizing birth) and continues with the swing and then the noose (death.)
The House of Shadow also includes the ‘SOUL’ (PSYCHE in Greek) collection of creations. This is a changing shadow that appears from a rotating sculpture and creates different images to different people; however at one particular time the guests will all see the same image – where the word PSYCHE is formed. This collection also includes shadow sculptures entitled “fertilization”, “amusement”, “joy”, “loss” and “purification.”
Other creations worth mentioning are the portraits of well-known celebrities and historical figures, such as Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstien, and Konstantinos Kavafis Also,
. When asked which piece is his favourite, Vaitsis explained “I like every sculpture of mine for different reasons. One of my favourite creations is the fantasy. In this creation, there is a man, alone… But every night, a woman (his shadow/fantasy) comes and hugs him… I love this because sculpture and shadow are becoming one. They are touched. There is no difference between them.”
Vaitsis not only has the art in the exhibition, but also has plans for the near future “I would like (and I am trying about it) to find support to make a huge installation with shadows… during my trying, I will continue creating and making experiments for new ways of shadow art. [As for events] I had an important proposal and I hope that everything will go right and I will have an exhibition in London, in 2017.”
From personal experience, I am not a huge art fan however this exhibition is something completely different, I was in awe with how the pieces were created. Me and my friend only went to Xanthi for a day, but we are very glad we ended up in the House of Shadow. Triantafyllos showed us around the entire exhibition, explaining his influences and the meaning behind each creation, it made the experience a lot better as I could get an explanation for each piece and sometimes see the sculpture from a different perspective. My friend Lauren D, would also like to say “The House of Shadow is a lovely workshop created by a very inspired artist. It is small yet rich in originality. The works of art tell a story which evokes feelings and ideas to guests.”
There are many other pieces of art at the exhibition, are you interested? Then go see for yourself. At a modest €2, it is definitely worth the money. I can guarantee you will see something different and even if art galleries and exhibitions are not your thing, it is something for the whole family. If you ever find yourself in Xanthi, I would highly recommend you visiting the House of Shadow, it’s fun and creative.
If you want to find any more information:
Website – www.vaitsis.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Thehouseofshadow
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
twitter – twitter.com/tvaits
Instagram – artvaitsis
*All photos taken by Triantafyllos Vaitsis