Athens is for (Art) Lovers: Nikos Mainaros’ Stylized City

The designer' work is currently on display at TAF as part of its Athens is for Lovers project featuring various exhibitions and events throughout 2019.

TAF (The Art Foundation) is well-hidden; even regulars sometimes walk straight past the door on the narrow street near Monastiraki Square. Still, somehow, the café inside is always packed.

Luckily there are things to do while you wait for a table. In the shop, you’ll find pretty examples of innovative local design.

Upstairs, exhibitions by young contemporary Greek artists are displayed.

On the walls right now is the work of Nikos Mainaris, designer of the Koukoutsi – Graphique Store in central Athens. His images (available as prints but also cool t-shirts, jewelry and cups) are minimal and bold, in almost only black and white, and center around various aspects of urban Greece. The exhibition is titled “Designing for Athens”, and part of TAF’s new “Athens is for Lovers” project, which will include more exhibitions, workshops, performances, readings and tours of Athens throughout 2019.

Stylized architectural landmarks take center stage; the Acropolis is shown looking tiny below an orange moon (or is it the sun?), and his depictions of eye-catching buildings like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and the Rex Theater look cool enough to convert into tattoos.

Mainaris also comments on current events through some of his images, adding words like “Eat more feta to reduce Greek debt”, and “Out of order” below a sketch of the Greek parliament.

Other works, abstract depictions of mythical creatures and stories, are more romantic.

In all their simplicity, Mainaris’ works still manage to encompass and somehow present what many new artists in Athens are all about: modern and straight-forward reflection, and of course, a love for their city.

On the way out, a coffee cup featuring the Acropolis with the orange moon sends a subtle message of what’s downstairs – one of the best coffee shops in the city. It’s time to join the crowd.

Keep an eye out here for announcements regarding more exhibitions at TAF.

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