Art Athina 2015

My name is Chris and I am no art expert. Nevertheless this article reads about art.

I have just visited Art Athina 2015, the International Contemporary Art Fair of Athens. It takes place in the former Olympic Tae Kwon Do Stadium, situated on the coastline of the Faliro delta.
I entered the parking lot full of excitement. The parking crew cared for my sweet Saxo and so I headed towards the grand staircase that brought me to the entrance level. The view of the half clouded Saronic gulf was magnificent and so I spent a few minutes gazing where the sea meets the sky. Finally I entered the stadium.

The exhibition begins with a dark rectangle room on the floor of which a video, that stimulates a moving corridor comprising of waste, is projected. The movement is counter to the entering of the visitor. Please believe me when I say that I actually felt walking on a, counter to my steps, moving corridor that made me put extra effort so as to cross the room and reach the far exit. It was like trying to go up a moving staircase that comes down. Very impressive illusion.
But is it just a well placed illusion or is our every day illusion the aloof reality that most of us decide to put under the carpet?
The art work of Nikos Navridis, Breath, 2005 is not an illusion but merely a parental advice to a child why it should not touch the flame. As I try to cross the corridor the opposite movement of the floor stalls me, tires me, degrades me and then, I reflect upon the obstacle. It comprises of waste, of human pollution, concepts that very few understand and even fewer care and act. To that majority of ignorance and self centered character, the every day is an illusion.

Powerful start. Moving on to the upper section of the Art Fair.

The ελculture ( pavilion exhibited an interesting collection of Instagram photos. Tonia Karaoglou presented beautifully the contrasting urban scenery where residential abandonment is being softened by the green corners of the city. Varvara Savvidi lightens up, in a most delicate way, a girl that seems constrained in a conservative environment. Theodoros Strigas shows us, in a simple and clean way, how street art can transform the aging cityscape.
Congrats to ελculture.

The most impressive pavilion of the Art Athina 2015 is undoubtedly the one of 50 DIMITRIA Festival of Thessaloniki due to its unique construction. The pavilion is an art work itself. With the use of paper pipes the space has been transformed into a hive. The point of the artist is clear. The 50 DIMITRIA, being the most important cultural event of Thessaloniki, is indeed a hive of culture.

The pavilion of the Bank of Greece. Yes, as hard as it sounds, the Bank produces contemporary art with the use of destroyed worn out notes. There were two exhibits each of which had a simple rectangular box construction of what seemed to be strong plexiglass. Each piece comprised of chipped worn out notes, one of 700.000 EURO and one of 200.000 EURO aggregate value. As the people of the Bank kindly informed me, the EURO note is being constructed purely of recyclable material which is industrial cotton residue. All worn out or damaged EURO notes are being recycled and given a second economic life as insulation material…nice!

I have just finished the first section of Art Athina 2015 and before advancing to the second I have decided to attend a talk titled “The Crisis and Art in Greece”. Andreas Tsourapas, Organizer of the Athens Street Art Festival, spoke last and his every word struck me like an enlightening bomb. Amongst others, he asked the core question: Where does art go when the lights are out? He explained that the artist is permanently in difficulty and that the reason that someone decides to become an artist is surely not to be at ease. He declared that art is the nightmare of the society since it brings out all that is hidden. Art does not give answers, it is merely an approach to the management of the phenomenon of life and it most certainly does not have guilt, only the consumers of art have. In the end he noted that what is inside of us never leaves and always knows better. I will cherish this attack of deep truth and rich meaning that, mind you, felt honest to the bone. Thank you Andrea Tsourapa.

The lower section of the Art Fair takes place in the main arena of the Stadium.

Lia Kazakou, Untitled, 2015, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40 cm (Gallery DONOPOULOS IFA)
I see the upper back of a possibly young woman (judging from the casual hairstyle) of an era some decades ago (judging from her outfit). This beautiful sight seems to come through the eyes of a lover during a tender approach. The image of a dressed woman’s back is rare and progressive. The artist combines anxiety with calmness and presents them both in a romantic atmosphere. The painting has character, strength and awareness and all three have been achieved in the absence of flesh. That is a major accomplishment also known as success.

Steven C. Harvey
1. False Flight Madonna, 2014, pencil on paper, 74 x 59 cm
2. Tycoon Motorcoast, 2014, pencil on paper, 59 x 74 cm
Both works have the same central theme, the depiction of the human society. The futuristic drawings show boldly and fearlessly “in your face” the way the human kind treats its own and its surrounding environment. The image is so powerful that I could not help but feel sad, angry and disgusted by the way the human species thinks and acts. The drawings had such an emotional impact on me that when I exited the pavilion I had lost my orientation.

Timos Mpatinakis, The Artist I. Adamakis, Oil on Canvas, 155 x 200 cm (GALLERY KAPLANON 5)
I can not imagine the challenge this painting must have been judging from the theme itself. The artist gives us the grandeur, the energy, the sparkle in the eye of the tiger in a magnificent way. The majesty of the Artist I. Adamakis is being presented in his simplicity. This painting could fit properly only in a palace.

The time spent in the Art Athina 2015 was healing and educating. The Stadium felt like a protective art bubble were nothing else exists outside its boundaries.
Looking forward for next year.



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