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Deo Projects, Chios

JUN 27 2021

“If Chios was a star sign, she’d be a Scorpio - it’s not a touristic island, you have to discover her secrets for yourself”, says Akis Kokkinos, the founder of Deo Projects, the first contemporary art platform on the island. 

The independent curator comes with an impressive resume - his career started at the non-profit organisation Neon Athens where he worked in partnership with the esteemed Whitechapel Gallery and Marina Abramovic Institute. His research then led him to London, where he worked for the National Portrait Gallery before landing not one but four scholarships for his postgraduate studies at the prestigious Royal College of Art. Mr Kokkinos believes that “the concept of travelling and exposing yourself to unknown stimuli is an essential part of the experience of working in art”.

 Even so, he does not forget his heritage, ”my family is from Chios and I’ve always continued to invite artists and friends here. They always show immense interest in the island's culture, and that’s how the idea of ‘a commission series resulting in an exhibition’ was born”.

“Our house is one of the spaces that we use for the accommodation for the artists. It was an old inn built-in 1920, named Dimitra after the goddess of agriculture. Deo is a less known name of the goddess, and with Deo Projects I honour my heritage whilst still looking to offer a fresh perspective on the art world”.

The goal of Deo Projects is to not only make Chios part of the global conversation when it comes to contemporary art but also to challenge the important issues surrounding the labour of art itself. “We want the artists to be paid for their work. Contrary to the majority of similar art projects, the series of artworks that are produced with Deo belong to the artist”. When such commendable ideals are matched with such impressive curation you know you have found something special.

Medley, Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, 2016. Courtesy of the Artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York / Photo by Gui Gomes
Medley, Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, 2016. Courtesy of the Artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York / Photo by Gui Gomes
Clay. Acrylic, spray paint, brick pigment, pencil and pen on canvas and iron plate, with ceramic objects, 200 x 255 cm, 2016 courtesy of the artist and Maureen Paley, London | photo by Andy Keate
Clay. Acrylic, spray paint, brick pigment, pencil and pen on canvas and iron plate, with ceramic objects, 200 x 255 cm, 2016 courtesy of the artist and Maureen Paley, London | photo by Andy Keate
Sou leão, Sou Demais Pro Seu Quintal, 2018, oil, tempera and acrílic on canvas and bronze objects, 210 × 155 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York / Photo by Bruno Leão
Sou leão, Sou Demais Pro Seu Quintal, 2018, oil, tempera and acrílic on canvas and bronze objects, 210 × 155 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York / Photo by Bruno Leão
Akis Kokkinos- photo by Linn Phyllis Seeger
Akis Kokkinos- photo by Linn Phyllis Seeger
Paulo Nimer Pjota- photo by Sisnando de Luca
Paulo Nimer Pjota- photo by Sisnando de Luca
Jessica Cinel – photo by Leda Abuhab
Jessica Cinel – photo by Leda Abuhab

Written by Nassia Matsa. London-based, Athens-born writer on culture and tech with published work in Financial Times, Wired and Vogue. She is also a model with campaigns for brands such as Prada, Balenciaga and Burberry among others