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Autumn’s Athenian art trek

SPEND a breezy but bright October’s day in Athens visiting its many art exhibitions and you will discover a garden of artistic delights in the heart of the concrete city – ranging from the ancient to the contemporary. Here are ten (plus) of the Autumnal highlights:


An artistic aquarium
Enter a fantastic polychromatic world of porcelain fish at the Benaki Pireos, where artist Maritsa Travlos is exhibiting her work until November 19. For three decades now, she has been working away feverishly, employing various techniques for ceramics, porcelain and stoneware into her art. The show’s curator Takis Mavrotas says of her: “Maritsa Travlos belongs to that group of contemporary artists who prefer to work, in a pure and clean manner, who prefer the silence of the atelier, avoiding the systematic exhibition of their work in public.” But now the time has come, to show the public what she has been up to…


Kouvakis’ mysterious methodology
Kolonaki’s Evripides Gallery is presenting the work of Yiorgos Kouvakis, which runs till November 4. Here you will find a selection of the artist’s work which spans from 1986 up to the present, and in terms of subject-matter, ranges from the strict harmony of tree trunks to mysterious, deserted landscapes, plus his own personal forms of hieroglyphics (among other things). Kouvakis’ work has undertones of a surrealist and abstract nature, but also draws inspiration from other movements, borrowing a few materials from arte povera even. However Kouvakis’ influences are transformed by his own personal contemporary artistic methodology, which concludes into a somber, earthy balance between textures, symbols and patterns.


Alexandros’ surreal Greece
Also in the Kolonaki area, Alexandros (Moustakas) will be exhibiting his work at the Argo Gallery, October 17-November 11. The artist has managed to take typically Greek images in the most part (eg pomegranates, doves, the sea), adding surrealist twists to his impeccably painted scenes.


NEON comissions Velonis
NEON City Project returns to Athens for the 4th time, now taking over a historical neoclassical residence on 11 Kaplanon St (Kolonaki). Artist Kostis Velonis, has been commissioned by NEON to transform the space into his in situ artistic intervention, entitled ‘A Puppet Sun’. This work explores the building’s history, architecture and its position in the heart of the city, plus the site’s lived experience and memory, investigating its powerful historical, political and cultural intersections as well as the personal narratives that are present. The exhibition is curated by Vassilis Oikonopoulos, Tate Modern’s Assistant Curator in the International Collections department. (Opening October 11, at 7pm, runs till January 14).


Chinese art at EMST
The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens (or EMST), is hosting an exhibition of ‘Chinese Xieyi Painting’ till November 14. ‘Xie’ means ‘to write’ and ‘Yi’ means ‘the meaning’, and this beautiful form of art, with its calligraphic lines and essential forms aims to capture the essence of its subject-matter. The exhibition is part of the cultural exchange programme between Greece and China for 2017, and has been realised with the collaboration of the National Art Museum of China, together with the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and EMST.


Frissiras’ top 20
The Frissiras Museum’s exhibition of the runners-up and winner of the 3rd Prize for European Painting continues till the end of December. Here, in this exquisite neoclassical building in the heart of Plaka, you will get a chance to see a wide range of figurative painting on the most part, in its most contemporary evolution. Over 200 artists took part in the competition, and 20 were selected as finalists. Teodora Axente won the first prize, but distinctions went to artists Afroditi Krontiri and Christos Michaelides. The works of the 20 finalists are on show: Giulia Andrea, Teodora Axente, Marion Bataillard, Jozsef Csato, Simone Haack, Ewa Szczekan, Anna Antarti, Chryssa Valsamaki, Christos Yiannopoulos, Marianna Katsoulidi, Aphrodite Krontiri, Aspasia Krystalla, Yiannis Limnaios, Christos Michaelides, Nikos Moschos, Vasilis Perros, Gentsi Routsis, Yiorgos Salpigides, Despina Flessa, Dimitris Frangos.


Crete and India meet
A visual slice of Crete but also of India is to be had at the Felios Collection these days where Dimitris Katsiyiannis’ work is being exhibited until October 29. His series of watercolours which span 70 years of his oeuvre, include recent and older acquisitions of the Antonis and Azia Hatzioannou Collection, which were executed in Crete, many of them near the region of Chania, where the artist lives most of the year. Also on show however are works which the artist created on his many travels to India, created between 2007-2013.


Ancient Greek emotions
“A strange, wonderful exhibition…” is how Holland Cotter of ‘The New York Times’ described the exhibition ‘εmotions’, when it was shown at New York’s Onassis Cultural Center . The show moved and charmed public and critics alike, and now, it has done the same in Greece, where it is running at the Acropolis Museum till November 19. Don’t miss the chance to see it. This narrative exhibition sheds light on the unseen world of emotions in the personal, social and political life of antiquity, and comprises 129 masterpieces from the world’s greatest museums. As the Museum’s President, Professor Dimitris Pantermalis, explains: “This is an unusual archaeological exhibition which focuses on the portrayal of the ‘ethos of the soul’ in 129 ancient artworks. Using surprisingly simple but powerful means, the ancient artists depicted bright emotions like desire, love, lust and shame, but also dark passions like madness, fury, revenge and heartbreak”.


Zhang Yexing’s first time
The work of Chinese artist Zhang Yexing, one of China’s most important artists of his generation (born 1981), is being shown for the first time in Europe, at Thission’s Bernier/Eliades Gallery (runs till November 14). Yexing graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and now lives and works in Beijing. This industrial city of northeast China near Russia has influenced Yexing’s work, leading him to look towards the Soviet Union and eastern Europe for inspiration. His canvas is always heavily painted, scrubbed, and re-covered with layers of oil paint and pigments. Simplicity, roughness and profundity co-exist in a dynamic and harmonious way on his picture-planes. For the new series of works on show at the Bernier/Eliades, Yexing has painted mainly objects in his studio, to which a dreamy and mysterious atmosphere has been added due to the staging of the ‘studio scenes’.


Toulouse-Lautrec inspires
A tribute to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is going on at the Benaki Pireos these days, where you can see a show comprising the work of 100 renowned graphic designers from around the world who have designed posters inspired by the artist and his oeuvre (plus his bohemian lifestyle). This exhibition, entitled ‘Le Nouveau Salon des Cent’, was first shown at Paris’s Centre Pompidou in 2001, on the occasion of the centenary anniversary of Toulouse-Lautrec’s death. The exhibition has since travelled to many cities around Europe, Asia and America, before arriving in Greece. Here in Athens, it has been imbued with some extra works: Five original posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and one by Pierre Bonnard, from the National Gallery–Alexandros Soutzos Museum’s collection, plus 16 posters created by Greek artists, along the lines of the 2001 exhibition. The exhibition is also accompanied by portraits of Toulouse-Lautrec, produced by art students.


  • If you want to learn more about Toulouse-Lautrec and his art, then don’t miss Daniele Devynck’s lecture: The director of the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, will be speaking on Thursday, November 9, 7pm, at the Benaki Pireos’s amphitheatre.
  • There’s lots more art around town not to be missed of course, such as the group show curated by Christoforos Marinos, at the Zoumboulakis Gallery (Kolonaki Square), runs till October 7.
  • The Onassis Cultural Centre kicks off its Autumnal season of art events with a show dedicated to Science Fiction and how it has moulded our culture – from the 19th century onwards. This exhibition was formerly shown at London’s Barbican Centre (more about this show to come later). The opening party is on October 9 (runs till January 14).
  • Plus, the Megaron Mousikis will make Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings come alive, in November.

6 thoughts on “Autumn’s Athenian art trek

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