Maria Gouma

Eight cutting-edge contemporary artists have been invited by the newly funded project to interact with the wild and natural beauty of Paxos.
Marina Tomacelli Filomarino, the inspiration behind the project and a summer resident of Paxos for the past forty years, shares with Sotheby’s International Realty the thrill of seeing it to fruition and her tips about making the most of a visit to the island.

When did you come up with the idea for this project and how long did the preparations take?
“The idea came up exactly two years ago while sailing around the island on my boat. Admiring the majestic beauty of Paxos I wondered what an impact it would have if a group of artists would express their creativity here. One year later, I invited Julia Ossko and Eugen Schulz (artist duo Leonid Keller) for a first location scouting. They were impressed, flew back to Berlin and put together a group of 8 amazing and cutting edge artists: Ricky Lee Gordon, Jewgeni Roppel, Leonid Keller, Linus Lohmann, Quintessenz, Rene Wagner, Michael Sebastian Haas, and Yiannis Pappas. In February we launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. After only two minutes our first Premium Sponsor, Luna Jets, the leading independent European private jet booking platform owned by a friend and long year summer resident like me, jumped into the project. Only 4 weeks later we had raised all necessary funds. The artists arrived in Paxos in May and worked hard and non stop for 3-4 weeks!”.

How did you choose the locations?
“It was hard because there are so many beautiful places! But I brought Julia and Eugen to my favourites spots on the island and they thought that each of these locations could be perfect. But some artists like Yiannis Pappas, Michael Haas and Quintessenz preferred to explore the island by themselves in order to find their perfect spot”.

What did the local people think of the process and the works?
“At the beginning, when I started talking about the idea to establish the Paxos Contemporary Art Project and to transform the island in an Open Air Gallery they did not really understand… As the artists arrived, local people started being very curious but most of all really very helpful! The whole Paxos community adopted the artists and helped them throughout the days and the difficulties. It was amazing! Now that the installations are there they keep on telling me ‘thank you’ for the new beauty we brought to the island”.

How do the works interact with the landscape in Paxos – do you think they could work as well in another place?
“All of the works, with no exception, interact with the landscape of Paxos and its inhabitants. Most of the participating artists arrived on the island with a clear vision, as far as materials and artistic medium are concerned. Their concepts for the final artworks, however, remained open in almost all cases. This is what made the results and the project, as a whole, so special: it was Paxos, its landscape, its people, and the specific locations, chosen by all artists upon arrival, which determined their work. Each work owes itself in part to the remoteness, the unique beauty and rhythm of this small Ionian island”.

Had the artists met before? Did the place impact their interactions with each other?
“The Berlin-based artist-duo Leonid Keller, who curated the project, was familiar with all of the artists beforehand and some of the participating artists had also known each other from previous collaborations. This was very helpful, as Leonid Keller was able to anticipate not only synergies between the artists but also their ability to work in a very remote area and to improvise along the way. Others had never met before. This led to a very unique team spirit of supporting and inspiring one another along the way”.

What is your first memory of Paxos?
Playing on the beach of Anti Paxos.

What is the experience that evokes the island in your mind?
Around 8 pm the island is caressed by a warm and golden orange light and with a Gin and Tonic in my hand I sit under a 400-year-old Olive Tree, listening to the wind and the sea, feeling happy admiring the beauty of nature and the beauty of the life. My best view is of Erimitis.

If you had to choose one thing to take home with you from Paxos what would it be?
A bouquet of rigani (oregano). I put it in a glass jar and each time I open it I am back in Paxos :)

Where do you live, swim, have drinks at Paxos? Any suggestions for visitors?
I live near the little village Vlachopoulatika. For a swim I love to go to the “Canalino”, as we call it in Italian, that is at the end of Paxos heading towards Antipaxos. And Dascalia, the last little rocks after Anti Paxos. A paradise! To hang out I recommend: Cafe Kalimera and Remego Bar in Gaios as well as Eremitis Sunset View Bar – with a breathtaking view! For dinner, I recommend Dal Pescatore or Apagio or Caffè Italiano in Gaios. Taverna Vassilis in Loggos. La Rosa di Paxos in Lakka.

Paxos Turquoise Waters near Lakka

About the location

Paxos island, and its nearby Anti-Paxos, is accessible by boat from mainland western Greece (Patra and Igoumenitsa) and from neighbouring Corfu. Its small villages, beaches and unspoiled nature, thanks to limited tourism, are of exceptional beauty. Visiting the works of the project is a unique way to explore the best spots on the island and experience an enriching summer holiday, immersed in art and nature.
For more information on the exhibition, there is an information point at Chris Boïcos Fine Arts Gallery in the centre of Gaios, open 7/7, 10 am-1 pm and 8 pm-10.30 pm.
For those interested in buying limited edition smaller scale artworks by the artists involved in P-CAP, Marina can arrange a private view in the Gallery Art Paxos at Lakka. Contact her on +49 15732673849.