Bleeps: Greek street artist talks social issues
ATHENS—In the driver’s seat of a Suzuki Jimny sits a young man in dark Ray-Bans. He goes by the name of Bleeps and he chucked his dentistry career out the door in favour of doing what he thinks is more important.
Since abandoning probes and floss a few years ago, Bleeps has opted to devote the majority of his time and energy to making art. While he doesn’t regret his stint as a dentist in Britain, he says he found himself getting carried away with profit. “They make it work inside you—they make you love money,” he cites as the reason he booked himself a one-way ticket home to Greece to pursue art.
Nowadays, his canvas is primarily the walls of the Psiri area of Athens, and his subjects are current sociological issues within the city. “I use art as a way to communicate,” he says. “I want to do something different—to wake people’s minds up.”
Bleeps doesn’t do what he does for fame, and most definitely not for fortune. His art doesn’t suffice in terms of making ends meet, but regardless, it has become his priority.“My work takes a philosophical approach to sociological problems about how the urban environment evolves in time,” he says. “I’m trying to create an alternate way of life and show it to people.”
Bleeps draws his inspiration from ordinary people, the working class and the Greek spirit of the land and sea. This comes out visibly in the signature blue backdrops and pale figures that are present in the majority of his works. “I identify myself as a Greek artist—don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in Nationalism and that sort of stuff—but in order to survive historically you need a strong identification for yourself, and the blue and white inspires me; I grew up here,” he says.
The dodgier parts of town are where Bleeps prefers to place his work—as it is much more accessible for a street artist, with less of a risk of running into trouble with the police. “Quite a lot of times when I’m working on a project, police will pass by but they won’t say anything—sometimes I think they enjoy it,” he says.
Through his pieces Bleeps touches on a wide-range of issues, most of which come back to his qualms with the current capitalist system. “I’m not focusing on the Euro-crisis, but I use it as a base to discuss general problems in humanity and society,” he explains. “I think that the Euro-crisis reflects general problems— this is not the first time you see this system, capitalism, facing this downfall.”
In his online manifesto Bleeps explains “In a capitalist system, human beings have learnt to think in terms of equivalence, subjugating their entire lives under the law to give less than what you take as an exchange.” He urges that the system needs to become more humane.
Though he has his own vision of an utopist reality backed by strong ideals, Bleeps isn’t unrealistic or hugely optimistic about change—at least, not immediate change. “I believe nowadays even if you know what has been happening historically, you can’t do much about it,” he says. “People are manipulated, so you can’t see much of a change, or see people rising against the system.”
So he puts his faith in coming generations. “I don’t think things will change drastically in the present and I don’t believe my projects will change peoples minds now,” he says. “But maybe, maybe in the future they might. So, I work for the future.”