Forthcoming is the title of the third exhibition presented in Space52. Even its title creates a feeling of anticipation, not only for this exhibition, but also for those l forthcoming at this newly set up, artist-run space. Louis Papachristou curated the works of Dimitrios Antonitsis, Irini Bahlitzanaki, Hariton Bekiaris, Dionisis Christofilogiannis, Martha Dimitropoulou, Iraklis Fovakis, Georgia Kotretsos, Nikos Kyriakopoulos, James Lane, Antonis Larios, Yorgos Maraziotis, Maro Michalalakos, Eva Mitala, Jennifer Nelson, Poka-Yio, Nefeli Papanagiotou, Artemis Potamianou, Georgia Sagri, Giorgos Tserionis, Nicolas Vamvouklis, Pantelis Vitaliotis/Magneto and Vasilis Zografos, presenting their personal, cultural, political or critical narratives, together in the space. Curatorially the works were displayed using the entire dimensions of the space, both the walls and floor are used, making the most of the abundance of light, and high ceilings of the space. Stripping the artworks from their labels and titles, he offered the preconditions of a direct and sincere dialogue between the viewer and the artwork, without any bias.
Superstitions pass from one generation to the next, weaving an unseen bondage of the present with the past. In Iraklis Fovakis’ work, plexiglass frames a folded shirt, made by a slough of a 4.5 metre boidae snake. The multifaceted symbol of the snake comes to mind: the therapeutic symbol from ancient Greece, the emblem of medical science, the personification of the devil in the Bible and the chthonic creature of the underworld. Linked to the Greek tradition where the snake skin is a lucky charm, Fovakis’ artifact stands out like an amulet ready to be embodied physically and mentally. One has to believe in superstitions for the charm to be effective, therefore, the charm really stems from within. Greek tradition is also reflected in Nicolas Vamvouklis’ Study for a support structure. The silk scarf wrapped on a plexiglass cylinder calls to mind folk culture and performativity. Direct references are made to his homeland, Lesvos, the Bull Festival of Agia Paraskevi, where faithfuls hang silk scarves on the animals as votive offerings, and the Greek panigiri festival with its street sellers. A ready-made scarf born from mass production, combined with the plexiglass and presented in an art space, questions what is perceived as high art.
Respectively, the concaveness of the found object employed in Giorgos Maraziotis’ Not Me, a spindly stick leaning on the wall, signals fragility and delicacy whilst echoing the gesture of its deposition. As its peak leans right next to a small painting, which depicts a close-up of the top of a palm tree, the two of them appear as if to complement one another, to form a whole. A different whole is offered by Dionisis Christofilogiannis’ Overlap, a sculpture formed by metal patterns, replicas from Athenian fences, doors and windows, placed one over the other. Although fences divide and separate the public from the private and one’s property, in this case it brings together the traces of the lives of residents and homeowners who have lived in a house one after the other. Having shared the same house, neighborhood, town, country, planet, are we strangers to one another as we believe? Christofilogiannis’ totem-like structure evokes the basic common need for shelter and the jeopardization of human rights. Similarly, the works of Bahlitzanaki, Lane, Nelson and Poka-Yio could not be more topical to current events. Poka-Yio’s cartoon-like portrait of former Greek Prime Minister George Andreas Papandreou, aka GAP, presented as a post on instagram, contradicts the declined popularity of the politician in the media with the increased popularity of the time consuming social media application.
Jennifer Nelson’s pendant, still in progress during my visit, resembles a folklore pendant as those worn in traditional Greek female costume. The adornments, are particles from bank statements, reminiscent of the financial and cultural crisis, still ever present in Greece. Irini Bahlitzanaki’s installation of a string of flags draped over two piles of coloured sand, signals the manipulation of the national symbols and national feelings when the goal is the overexploitation of resources and their financial benefits. Soil recalls vanity, while the colorful flags resemble a festive decoration, a barrier-free utopia. James Lane’s video and ropes installation prompts the viewer to face today’s reality on the Greek islands, where hundreds of refugees are still struggling to survive long enough to reach the safety of the islands. Lane’s sharp depiction of reality is further reinforced when mirrored with Nefeli Papanagiotou’s The Case of Luxury and Sadness, a mirror in the shape of a knife and a hatchet. The sharpness of these objects so delicately rendered that the fragility of the material implies the sensitivity that lies underneath the relentlessness of the forms.
Antonis Larios’ Mr Beastman behind a Fence portrays a human-animal hybrid posing behind a fence, within a heavily adorned gold frame, reminiscent of the circus, monsters and bizarre objects from a Cabinets of Curiosities. The fence provides a secure distance between the viewer and the figure, implying the distance from the extrinsic and the foreign, in fear of it, otherwise known as xenophobia. An ambiguous figure can also be seen in Artemis Potamianou’s The Unknown Masterpiece which depicts a female portrait with a collage of a torso, different eyes, different ears and different mouth, wide open as if moaning passively or trying to speak. The painting is also presented in a heavily adorned gold frame, that suggests a worn glamour of the past. The direct reference to the homonym book by Honoré de Balzac, The Unknown Masterpiece (1931) raises questions around the concept of absolute beauty, shining light on the overlooked contribution and limitation of the woman’s role in art history.
A quite different portrait is displayed diagonally at the opposite side of the room. Nikos Kyriakopoulos’s artwork depicts a female portrait, drawn in black pen on a paper. Its sketchiness prompts the viewer to visualize the enactment of the moment of its creation. An ephemeral moment whose remaining evidence serves as a souvenir, a portrait of the memory. Some memories function as sources of inspiration, like Georgia Sagri’s two artworks. This is why they are not for sale. Not now, not ever. She revisits them infinitely as a source for inspiration for her forthcoming creations. Sagri has transformed the originals, which no longer exist, changed their scale and mounted their prints on canvas so the transformations become the actual work itself. The fragility of the devastated words swell on the one canvas and the complexity of the three figures on the other is echoed by the traces of time marked by the wearing of the works.
Fragile as pine needles may be, they appear strong and steady in Martha Dimitropoulou’s six bongo-shaped sculptures, half metal, half pine needles. The harmony of the geometry juxtaposed with their jagged texture, recalls equality and the power of the masses. The natural and the man-made are also juxtaposed in Pantelis Vitaliotis/Magneto’s works, both of which depict a photograph of a real landscape with scattered red and blue toy-like objects. The artist’s realization of a space unveils the limitations of our perception on what is real. In the realm of fantasy, the half cut upper torso of a unicorn that Dimitrios Antonitsis creates from metal and adorns with semi-precious stones, recalls the mutilation of the imagination as one becomes a conforming adult. Vasilis Zografos’ painting of a horse stands in for the wholeness of the animal´s figure, its head is turned to the right, the eye moves to the painting of a porcelain vase, whose roundness echoes the horse’s and is further reinforced by the round wrap of the painting’s paper.
On the other hand, Giorgos Tserionis’ clay sculptures are asymmetric, somehow finalized before their possible final form. They are sometimes reminiscent of natural forms, like a seagull, or a vase with a flower, but primarily abstract and ambiguous, pronouncing the artist’s ongoing dialogue with the medium’s vast realm of possibility. Hariton Bekiaris further experiments with his creations, inviting nature and time to change the appearance of his sculptures. The greenish coating of the surface of his two sculpted heads, a sign of decay or vanitas, could signal the departure of humans from nature and the need for a rapprochement before the inevitable reunion, as well as the fragile human life, mortality.
Eva Mitala’s silkscreen Anxiety knows there is more room inside, also appears unfinished, as the primitive form of a blueprint is now displayed instead of the final product. It offers an insight in the ways in which the artist examines silkscreen techniques and the continuous trials she makes to tame the defaults and errors that occur while layering and forming her abstract prints. The lower half of an ostrich, whose thin pink legs stand in a ballet pose is depicted in Maro Michalakakos’ painting, framed in a metallic chic cornice reposed on two firebricks. Associations of notions of beauty, eroticism and fragility of the feminine are made unconsciously, only to highlight the fact that the viewer is unaware of these constructed stereotypes. Further unaware of unnoticed elements Georgia Kotretsos reasserts in her works entitled Objectified, where she recreates and presents the shade of a cornice of a painting as formed by the lights of a museum. The grey translucent shades are centrally positioned against a pale pink and a light blue background. By pronouncing an element usually overlooked like the shadow that a richly ornamented frame casts on a wall of a museum, Kotretsos highlights the unidentified presence artworks cast on the world.
Whether the artworks displayed are studies, latest projects or forthcoming ones, for this time only theyhave coexisted until the exhibition was over. Links and parallels were drawn between all works, weaving a sensory time travel, just as the past, present and future are all interconnected.
“Forthcoming – Προσεχώς”
27th Jan – 10th Mar 2018
Kastorias 52, Athens
Images by Dimitris Petalas, courtesy of the gallery.