A powerful & wonderful curatorial project
According to the book «Greek Art from A to Z» art-world purists don’t approve of artworks that «instead of posing hard questions to the viewer, enhance the sofa’s fabric». Curator Alexandra Kollaros, also the author of the book, singles out 18 artists she admires for their artistic skill and invites them to create artworks inspired by this statement.
Said curator / author is me and as you can imagine this project, apart from being artistically rewarding, is extra fun.
The exhibition’s title, an inside joke; in fact it is borderline trolling. If you read between the lines, one of the main thesis I support in the book is that we have had enough of pretentious and random art – art that, even by a huge stretch of the imagination, is nowhere near worthy of being classified as art. Yet it is served to the audience as inspired, ground-breaking and characteristic of our times. It is just the audience is not culturally sophisticated enough to comprehend it. Yeah, right. Give us the manual and illuminate us, please. #not
I am calling this out.
It is not art if you need someone to explain you what it is supposed to be saying. It is not art if you need a bloody manual to understand what it is, how it works or what feelings it is meant to generate.
What should one expect in this case upon hearing the words «Artworks that enhance the sofa’s fabric» then?
Artworks you want to live with. Artworks you can recognise as actual artworks upon seeing them. Also, the type of artworks most people gravitate towards, when not in possession of a PhD in Art History and a cultural foundation of their own. Could we maybe say «approachable» artworks? A large portion of art professionals detest this concept. They deem it debases the high calling of art, the ultimate mission of which is to pose hard questions and trouble the viewer. This is one way of looking at it. Another way is to recognise that art is supposed to express feelings and ideas and moreover convey them in an immediate, easy to apprehend way. Otherwise it is not art, it is something else.
A disproportionate amount of art produced today is created to be appreciated and understood solely by art authorities and remain a riddle for the greater audience. Ironically, it is the audience that is meant to consume these artworks, as in buy them and put them in their homes. This proposition, aside from being paradoxical, is downright absurd
Most of us view our personal space as our very own shelter. We spend a lot of time in it and are very selective about what makes part of our environment; we certainly seek items that express our character, complete our vision and “add” to the space – beauty mostly, whichever way we may individually conceive it. This obviously holds true in respect to the art we select. The truth is that the average person is not interested in reading a 17-page manual to understand what an artwork is about. Nor does he want to ornate his wall with a roughened-up piece of transparent paper set in place with yellowed sticky tape, and when «the artwork examines the effect of western capitalism on the psychology of the urban dweller» one remains thoroughly underwhelmed.
One more thing: art is precious for many reasons – it moves us, it beautifies, inspires, broadens our horizons, opens up our heart. Where did all these qualities go?
With the above in mind, the exhibition does not present works that get the viewer thinking through allegedly rhetoric questions and hypothetical “meta-comments”. It presents aesthetically impactful works of art, artworks that stir up feelings or capture you with their unique character, works that may even put a smile on your face. Artworks that have a lot to say but don’t screamingly extort our attention – instead they have figured out the way to convey their meaning in direct ways.
The artworks lean on the history of art throughout time, they draw from the past and the present, the ideas behind them are at times complex; they own the concept of the “concept”, but they are open to interpretation, without being attention-seeking or trying to enforce preset interpretations. The viewer is free to discover the works on his own and decide what he wants to take from this interaction.
The artists created these works with passion and deep knowledge of their trade and they present them to the audience to unravel their new life, through an open conversation without “terms & conditions”. The exhibition urges you to not be scared of art, to approach it and enjoy it.
Art belongs to everyone.
I am happy to be working with the following talented artists: Ismini Bonatsou, Nikos Giavropoulos, Eleni Karadimou, Giannis Kardassis, Dina Koumpoulis, Yorgos Lintzeris, Demetra Marouda, Fotis Pehlivanidis, Kostas Spanakis, Maria Spyraki, Ariadne Strofylla, John Bicknell, Paraskevi, John Valyrakis, Constantine Vraziotis, Iakovos Volkov (ΝΑR), Ioli Xifara. There is also a Shepard Fairey work from my private collection.
The group show is presented at «9 ΕΝΝΕΑ» Cultural Space, between 28 March – 20 April 2019 and if you are in Athens I look forward to seeing you there to enjoy a glass of Boutari wine and beautiful contemporary art. Yes, there I said it: BEAUTIFUL – another taboo word in today’s paradoxical art-world.
Read more about the exhibition here