Surprise Athens

Can Artists help the Homeless?

I run a charity campaign. It is called SURPRISE and it employs the power of art to offer help in major social issues. In Greece it supports the country’s homeless people. It runs yearly since 2009 and so far has worked with more than 2000 artists from around the world. It resembles a compact art festival – a veritable celebration of Contemporary Art.
It is extremely successful and I love it.

This year I decided not to go ahead with it.


After eight months of traveling I returned to Greece only to find things significantly worse than before (and I had left because it was horrible). Everyone seemed utterly resigned and dispirited. A quick assessment suggested neither artists nor buyers were in the mood for such “luxuries”. Canceling seemed like the sensical thing to do. So I killed it and left the country again as quickly as I could.

A couple of months passed by and I was still thinking about it.

I was thinking nobody cares.
I was thinking enough is enough (I think this every year though!).
I was thinking the situation is beyond salvation.
I was thinking no matter how well we do it is nothing within the broader frame of things.

Then I thought: F*CK THAT


Not only would I go ahead with it but I would try to make it as good as it can get, restore it back to its pre-crisis glory. I don’t know if this goal is realistic but the initial response is enthusiastic. Our biggest edition so far featured 322 artists.  I was hoping we could make it to 400 this year. Can you help making this happen?

SURPRISE has a lot of enemies. Artists, gallerists, art people in general – each of them hating for their own reasons – as well as the typical random hater, who will hate just for the sake of it.

It also has a lot of devoted friends. Artists who love the fact that they can bring change by exercising their talent. Journalists who generously promote it. Volunteers who gladly offer their time. Buyers who eagerly support it. It is a multi-layered collaborative effort, everyone contributing from their own angle. And everyone involved loving it.


Participating is easy (and rather fun): Artists have to create a small format artwork, sign it at the back, so as their identity remains secret, and offer it to the cause.

The artists’ identity only gets revealed after the works are sold; everyone loves this element of surprise (hence the name).


If you are an artist and this sounds good, please consider joining us. You can visit HERE to see full participation details or e-mail and somebody will get back to you immediately.  If you know an artist who might be interested please share this with them. We are accepting submissions from around the world. The exhibition opens on 21 September 2017 in Athens.

There is plenty of time ahead but there is no time like the present to get involved.


I look forward to working with everyone who cares.

P.S.: And YES, artists CAN and DO help the homeless. Moreover, they help them by doing what they know & love to do. 

(All images are from artworks exhibited at previous editions of SURPRISE. Main image by Argiris SER. )  


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