“In the past, the Greeks gave us philosophy. Now they give us philosophical dance. ...Life is both a lusty dance and a perpetual struggle....the whole work feels like a magic show, but with frightening existential tricks and nightmare images. ...Sheer magic.”
Peter Stenson, Danskonst, 7 November 2015
Liberatingly universal. Unspeakably beautiful.
“Brilliant. An intelligent, engaging, and superbly-performed Greek work. It seems presumptuous to attempt to describe Still Life, Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou’s striking and utterly captivating visual arts stage work hosted this week at the sold-out Dansens Hus. So read this as humble commentary, a mere note regarding what is more or less a masterpiece. ...Still Life wears layer upon layer of meaning. Greek mythology — and, if you like, Greece's current distress — are, of course, hauntingly recognisable, but Still Life is liberatingly universal. And unspeakably beautiful. I have never before seen a more sensible stagecraft or a more visually stringent choreography than those of 51-year-old Dimitris Papaioannou. ...a silently howling, existential drama.”
Örjan Abrahamsson, Dagens Nyheter, 9 November 2015
An absurd twist to our habitual vision.
“Striking tableaux make Sisyphus’ of us all. At last, the Greek contemporary dance scene comes to Stockholm. ...Papaioannou adds a sort of whimsical, absurd twist to our habitual vision, as if winking at us. ...Still Life poses a number of philosophical issues on the conditions of existence and how we continually engineer our lives and memories to search for, and to create meaning.”
Αnna Ångström, Svenska Dagbladet, 6 November 2015
Remarkable choreographic and scenic inventions.
“...a big impression is made with its compositional style that, utilising physical theatre epiphanies arising from diverse regions of the imagination, results in one large, unusual sequence of tableaux vivants, reflecting the multidisciplinary training, mainly in the visual arts, of its creator, known to the public for his Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. ...Through a series of remarkable choreographic and scenic inventions, and despite the slow pace in which the movements are performed, the work succeeds in creating an atmosphere that feels fitting and distant, icy and penitent, an atmosphere in which we end up finding, and reflecting upon, our selves.”
Renzo Francabandera, klpteatro.it, 7 November 2015
Breathtaking images of great beauty and strangeness.
“...a singular, visually stunning universe where beauty, inventiveness and the absurd reign supreme. A remarkable success. ...a series of breathtaking images of great beauty and strangeness. ...Still Life points to the absurdity and beauty of human life just as Albert Camus did in his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus.... Dimitris Papaioannou and his performers invent new forms, new images — strange, irrational or of entrancing beauty. ...One hopes that this French première is just the beginning of a very long series.”
Delphine Baffour, Danses avec la plume, 16 October 2015
Simple, spellbinding magic.
“Minimal, directly concerned with the body and with the body’s place on the physical plane of the stage, as well as the metaphorical plane of the story, Papaioannou conjures simple, spellbinding magic.”
Gabrielle Selz, Hamptons Art Hub, 1 August 2014
Masterful in its strength and clarity.
“Each tableau is masterful in its strength and clarity, in the link it highlights between its mythological underpinnings and the current Greek situation. ...Papaioannou excels in the composition of disturbing images, impossible to create in a dance performance. Hence the feeling of discovering a different art.... Still Life is a brilliant variation on the theme of the expulsion from paradise, and the paradoxical condition of humankind.... [P]erformers of remarkable physicality display a monstrous flexibility and tremendous finesse in incorporating the circus arts, which requires an approach that privileges detail and embraces the philosophy of the absurd. Hence Sisyphus, hence the reference to Camus, hence the courage to proceed into an art field that is barely definable. ...Having launched his career in the renowned Athens squats, Papaioannou now demonstrates that a person on their own, with some debris, can splendidly take on a stage like that of the Théâtre de la Ville provided it is done in full awareness of the invisible but eminently palpable thread that binds the present-day West to the origins of its theatre.”
Thomas Hahn, Danser Canal Historique, 14 October 2015
The alchemy of art.
“Sensitised to the gradual disappearance of an entire class of people who work with raw materials to craft the material culture of a civilisation (artisans), the artist pays tribute to the elevatory power of labouring with tangible natural elements... For Dimitris Papaioannou, this is the alchemy of art: to refashion the material world into something spiritual, into a pathway that leads us to poetry.”
Nikos Xenios, bookpress.gr, 30 May 2014
The return of the artisan to their raw materials.
“Still Life is the return of the artisan to their raw materials, centring not on grand themes but on the artistic craft itself, on the way in which one models materials to reveal objects. This is what we call a workshop, a space where the artist, on some deep level, recognises themselves, and their place in relation to the arts.”
Grigoris Ioannidis, I Efimerida ton Syntakton, 28 September 2015
Dramatic and poetic.
“...the Greek choreographer relies on commonplace materials...[to] create dramatic and poetic effects. ...The pace is slow, contemplative: assured poetry. ...Very much rooted in his homeland, the work takes on a universal significance.”
Delphine Goater, ResMusica, 17 October 2015
Utter clarity. Sustenance to dream, to imagine, to reflect.
“...a few symbolic images that encompass life in its entirety: all its essence, all its meaning. Such is Still Life, the piece by Dimitris Papaioannou. A work occasioned by the myth of Sisyphus, offering a condensed idea of Greece, in between the modern world and its past, its political reversals and its primordial myths. ...A series of images unfold to reveal Greece’s singular, hollowed-out portrait. This is an immensely visual performance during which time is suspended, drawn out. There is not an inkling of haste. And we are held captive inside this poetry, this utter clarity. With nothing extraordinary happening. Yet this dense intensity, in an apparent simplicity, this thing that’s so close to nothing, those incorruptible yet fragile bodies that move within the void in between mounds of stone and dust, all offer sustenance to dream, to imagine, to reflect...”
Denis Sanglard, Un fauteuil pour l’orchestre, 16 October 2015
A break on through to the other side.
“Many moments of free and poetic human acts. ...Theatre, and the emergence of the strange. ...A break on through to the other side. Elsewhere. ...Still Life urges us to break free from myths, to restore meaning to daily life and labour, to the human being, to the power of the imagination, all in the refined aesthetics of a beauty that is singular and true. A bold and surprising creation in which the familiar enriches the strange, and vice versa.”
Micheline B. Servin, Les Temps modernes n° 679, July—September 2014
A journey into the deep.
“There is nothing decorative about this work. Every element has been selected to function structurally, and yet Papaioannou’s aesthetics are first-class once again. The imposing silence that presides over much of the action proposes an other, inner kind of music that takes audiences on a journey into the deep.”
Zetta Pasparaki, popaganda.gr, 20 June 2014
A kind of musical theatre.
“This work, devoid of all human speech, is punctuated by the clamorous language of objects...to create a true soundscape composition. The objects themselves speak in varied voices, demanding to be heard on an equal footing, in a kind of musical theatre that is reminiscent of John Cage’s early experimental compositions using simple sounds.”
Dimitris Tsatsoulis, Eleftherotypia, 10 June 2014
A reverberation of deafening silence.
“...Papaioannou has a full and compelling mastery of his medium. Like Robert Wilson or Peter Brook, Anish Kapoor or Louise Bourgeois. And like other masters, he too knows to allow room for the viewer. This reverberation of deafening silence can, to paraphrase Willy Kyrklund, be thought of as follows: Still Life is perhaps the question to which human life is the answer.”
Örjan Abrahamsson, Dagens Nyheter, 9 November 2015
Dreams, magic, archetypes, Greek myths.
“Dimitris Papaioannou: transformer of bodies. The most amazing choreographer of 2015, combining linguistic simplicity with visual invention. ...Dreams, magic, archetypes, Greek myths: all these references help him to construct landscapes both internal and external, complex yet cloaked in simple language. Papaioannou’s work carries significant force in these times, which are so rich in dance that is not always capable of transmuting the banal into poetry.”
Marinella Guatterini, Il Sole 24 Ore, 27 December 2015
A theatre of movement, rarefied, visionary.
“...an artist fully capable of telling the tale of the drama of today, with a visual theatre that is wide-ranging and magical. ...Dimitris Papaioannou seems to conceive of the stage as a large palette where time expands and assumes its shape within a universe of human bodies, matter and light. A painter of the stage who...succeeds in conveying an insightful understanding of contemporary society, in between ethics and morality, turning it into a theatre of movement, rarefied, visionary, rich in profound emotion, rich in fragments of history (of the Greece of yesterday and today), images of life.”
Danza&Danza — Choreographer of the Year Award 2015for the works Still Life and Primal Matter
Theatrical action of choreographic texture.
“...theatrical action of choreographic texture. Τhe set design is unquestionably elegant, with an opalescent sphere like a looming planet, but any impression of iciness is soon disrupted by the chaotic bustle of life created by the seven excellent performers, and by the end the stage is left strewn with rubble and debris like a battlefield. This is evidently a metaphorical image for Greece’s current state, while references to ancient Greek myths stand in stark contrast to the action, like mementos of former harmonious order. ...It is only occasionally that some image of pure classical beauty appears: a loose-haired young woman in a pleated tunic appears like a Caryatid off the Erechtheion, but the image dissolves in moments, dispersed as if by a fierce wind. ...In the end, all everyone has are the small comforts of a communal table set with a frugal meal — the fruits of the earth. A need to return to our roots; perhaps almost an opportunity.”
Valentina Bonelli, Danza&Danza 266, January-February 2016
A multiple, infinite work.
“...a beauty that mixes simplicity with remarkable effects; poetic and sublime, it injects hope into an absurd world of suffering and, with small and subtle winks, forms links to current situations. The work allows for multiple readings, constantly opening up possible interpretations; the interaction between the images and one’s personal experiences transforms STILL LIFE into a multiple, infinite work.”
Ezio Mosciatti, Radio Bio Bio, 16 January 2016
As dazzling as it is desolate.
“Still Life is visual poetry...[an] impressive act of beauty, as dazzling as it is desolate, and of great symbolic density; one of the latest works (created in 2014) by the acclaimed 51-year-old Dimitris Papaioannou, another experimentalist of the stage to have sprung from the visual arts. Still Life unfolds like a graphic poem in motion, or like a choreographic piece without music or dance, created using the language of gestures. And with notable references made to Camus and Beckett, Kantor and Magritte.”
Pedro Labra, El Mercurio blogs, 17 January 2016
Precise, geometric beauty.
“Still Life...brings together seven actors in full control of their bodies who create a series of images of precise, geometric beauty and who, through mechanisms of repetition and imitation, take us into an absurd universe. As absurd as the punishment of Sisyphus itself, perhaps. ...This formidable work does not lack for humour, and not as a kind of ‘gift’ to dazzle audiences and so make the material more palatable, but rather as the flip side of the coin. Tragedy and comedy are only one step away.”
Ezequiel Obregón, Actualidad Artística, 19 January 2016