ATHENS continues to beguile art lovers with a wide gamut of artistic events and shows on offer. What’s more, spring is in the air, so it is a perfect time to take to the streets, enjoy the sun, and some art. Here’s a potpourri of what’s on offer (see also ‘February’s fab 5 (+1)’ for more shows that are still running from last month):
Benaki’s many options
There is a plethora of cultural events that you can enjoy at the Benaki’s various annexes around Athens in March. Here are some of them: At the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture on Koumbari Street, the exhibition ‘Travels in Greece (15th-19th century)’, features works from the E. Finopoulos Collection, and focuses mainly on travel literature and imagery, plus the collecting and research activity of the collector, Efstathios Finopoulos, who began collecting back in the ‘60s. Here, you will find rare editions, manuscript maps, loose prints and drawings as well as important documents, archival material and photographs – the works of travellers to this country. Their fascination with Greece as an ‘exotic’ land, and its influence on European thinking is blended into their artistic documentation of what they witnessed here. (runs till April 29).
Down at the Benaki’s Pireos Annexe, the exhibition of London-Greek artist Iris Xilas- Xanalatos continues (till March 11), and new shows include ‘Places of Referrence: From the Collection of the Bank of Greece’, which will be inaugurated on March 14, 6.30pm, and runs till May 20. This exhibition presents 160 works from the bank’s collection (of around 3000 works), by well-known Greek artists. Three main themes are explored: the reference to antiquity, the documentation of everyday life, and the pivotal role of the landscape in modern Greek art. Other events include Fred Boissonas’ photographic depictions of Egypt in 1929, comprised in a show to be inaugurated on March 19 (runs till May 20).
Athanassiades at the Gennadius
The Gennadius Library (in Kolonaki), is in itself an impressive neo-classical building, to which there has now been added a new Wing: the ‘Ioannis Makriyannis’ Wing. Realised via a 1.5 million dollar gift by Constantine (Deno) and Marie Macricostas (via the Macricostas Family Foundation), plus major funding from a European Union ESPA grant, the Hellenic Republic’s Ministry for Development and Competitiveness, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and numerous other institutional and private gifts, this new Wing, also comes equipped with an art gallery, among other things. It is here that Alexandra Athanassiades’ work will be presented, in a show entitled ‘Alexandra Athanassiades. Beyond Cavafy’s Written Word’, to be inaugurated on March 19, 7pm (and runs till May 12).
Alexandra Athanassiades was born in Athens, where she still lives and works. Her higher education began in Switzerland, at Lugano’s Franklin College. In 1982 she graduated with distinction from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at St. Anne’s College and was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Printmaking. In 1984 she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from New York’s Columbia University.
Since 1984 she has shown her work in several solo and group exhibitions in Athens, Delphi, Paris, New York, Brussels, London and Monte Carlo. In 1995 she won the Princess Grace Foundation Award. Several of Alexandra’s works are in important collections around the world and her sculptures are on permanent exhibition at Galerie Dutko in Paris, Kouros Gallery Sculpture Center in the USA and Zoumboulakis Gallery in Athens.
Agriculture and contemporary culture
Maybe the contemporary artist Aboubakar Fofana’s 54 indigo sheep that grazed in the gardens of the Agricultural University during last year’s documenta 14, whetted the university’s appetite for art, seeing as another marriage of art and agriculture is also now in the works. To be inaugurated on March 27, the upcoming exhibition is a collaboration with the Onassis Cultural Centre, which asks questions such as what is the role of the visual arts in academic life, and aims to reintroduce the Agricultural University to Athenians, inviting them to discover one of the country’s first academic institutions as a relevant and necessary oasis within the urban landscape.
The ‘Geometries’ exhibition aims to blend art and agriculture in a most creative manner: Soil, food, seeds, eco-systems will be some of the vital bi-products of research into the primary materials on hand. Academic knowledge, technological methodologies, will also be explored, while agricultural practices will be understood through the prism of contemporary art. Cevdet Erek, Celine Condorelli, Marjetica Potrč, Athina Ioannou and Thanasis Totsikas will be some of the artists who have been invited to contemplate and create new landscapes in the University’s environment.
• Runs till June 15. Open Thurs-Sun noon-9pm. The Agricultural University on 75 Iera Odos.
Alavanou’s new digital horizons
State of Concept presents a solo exhibition of the work of one of the most interesting artists of the contemporary Greek art scene, Loukia Alavanou, that opens on March 2, at 7pm. The exhibition is an overview presentation of the artistic practice of Alavanou, entitled “Towards New Horizons” and curated by iLiana Fokianaki. Runs till April 28.
* (for more info see: http://neon.org.gr/en/exhibition/loukia-alavanou-towards-new-horizons/).
Art for a great cause
Kolonaki’s Argo Gallery is organising a group show with works by 60 artists, the proceeds of which will go to supporting the MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres). The show will be inaugurated on March 13 and runs till March 31.
Bridging art and friendship
On Friday, March 16, Ikastikos Kiklos Sianti will present the ‘Women Bridging Worlds’ exhibition, with works by Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki and B΄ Beth Weldon, during which two women from different countries will meet at an artistic and cultural crossroads, bridging art with friendship. Both accomplished visual artists of distinguished artistic identity – and members of the Art Committee Board for the United States Sports Academy – they also follow different creative routes, only to meet in that binding instance which entangles their inner worlds and artistic paths
Amarantos at Evripides
There is an earthy primitivism in Michalis Amarantos’ art and a lyrical, poetic atmosphere. This artist’s work is the focus of the upcoming show at the Evripides Gallery. Art historian Elisavet Plessa describes the artist and his work as follows: “of simple materials and private spaces, a mirror of small moments. A person of habit, he loves paper, pencil and charcoal, pastels and temperas, because they free him from the restrictions of a specific place and time of the artistic act.”
• Opening on March 10, 12.30pm, and runs till April 5. http://www.evripides-art.gr
Morris Ganis at Camhi
The Rebecca Camhi Gallery is presenting the third solo show of Morris Ganis. Ganis was born in Trikala in 1973, and studied at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy. He has taken part in group and solos shows in Italy, Israel and Greece, and lives and works between Tel Aviv and Athens. The exhibition comprises oil paintings which reflect aspects of the artist and his world, both material and digital. In the 21st century, concepts such as virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, have become part of our everyday lives. The digital and the real converge in Ganis’ work into an enticing painterly concoction. The artist will be present at the opening.
• The Rebecca Camhi Gallery is on 9 Leonidou St, Metaxourgeio. Tel 210 5233049/ +30 694 7325711.
Venus vs Jesus
Art history professor James M. Saslow of Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is to give a lecture on the subject of ‘Venus versus Jesus: Subversive Sexuality in Religious Art, from Donatello to Artemisia Gentileschi’. Saslow will examine the depiction of the body in religious art of the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque. The lecture will take place (in English) at the Benaki Pireos, March 9, at 6pm. Free entrance. Organised by the Society of Greek Art Historians (EEIT).