Zenon Jepras, How to Be Happy
11-22 June 2019
Alpha C.K. Art Gallery is pleased to present the latest paintings by Zenon Jepras in an exhibition titled How to be Happy.
The exhibition features 17 new large-scale canvases and the artist’s concern which he expresses through his art is “What makes you happy?” This question has occupied moral philosophers for millennia. For so long in fact that the meaning of happiness has evolved along with the answers. From Aristotle’s Eudaimonia, or the happiness of contentment through virtuous living, to Nietzsche and Sartre, who were nothing except what they achieved. Can you be happy without being good? Or is it just a straightforward hedonistic calculation: maximise pleasure; minimise pain. Should we increase the Self, or dissolve it away?
Either way, today it seems happiness has changed. We need to be seen to be happy. We want what other people want. The stampede for the ice-cream van begins with the thought of it running out. Is there enough? We need to be liked and seen to be liked, so we watch and like and take selfies. We are self-helped, self-improved and always self-aware, worried that nobody is watching us being happy. Winning, going out, working out, eating out, getting your nails done, having fun. Having enough.
Being always self-observed requires constant self-presentation, which makes it difficult to be you. Happiness becomes a box-ticking construction of likes and dislikes, yesses and noes, ones and zeroes. Machine-readable then, algorithmically predictable sets of data-points that all our service providers from pleasure parks to politicians and other ice-cream sellers are happy to exploit.