Extensions of Μan
Art in the age of mechanical production and reproduction saw the rise and dominance of photography, video art and interactive sculpture, bringing art closer to science. Throughout western art history every recognized artist has been depicted clinging to brush and palette during or after a fit (spell) of creativity - both devices mere extensions of his physical body through which creativity flowed - which were the technical means for him to create his art. The postmodern artist's extensions are more high tech replacements, such as the camera line and video apparatus.
In this non-traditional exhibition, Yiannis Theodoropoulos, 0mar Zafar, and Nikos Giavropoulos use mechanical devices and magnetic surfaces bringing about the burial of typical artistic forms and mediums, while at the same time shifting away from traditional treatment and presentation of subject matter. The art object is demystified and de- ritualized, awaiting interaction with its audience - be it conceptual or tactile - and the fixed roles of artist as creator and of viewer as spectator are no longer fixed.
The work of Yiannis Theodoropoulos is of major importance, because it is concerned with space and theories of space.
Today, from post Fordism to Postmodernism, the current interest in space has provoked diverse theories regarding "spacial politics". According to Henri Lefebvre's 'unitary theory', there are three fields of space- mental space, physical space and social space.
Contemporary culture is increasingly dominated by space and by spacial logic, as Frederic Jameson claims space is political, meaning that an inhabited and man-made space can reveal the historical period, the inhabitant's social class, gender, race and religious beliefs, which are all the components of their identities.
Today, politics of space are also a focus of interest since each space underlines a behavior, a behavior, which may even, be predefined. This predefined behavior may even proceed the space itself e.g. churches, funeral parlors, bedrooms etc. The practice of this behavior in a specific space is spacial practice, resulting in the politics of space. When an interior is born, the traces of the object of everyday use are imprinted upon it, since to live is to leave traces, according to Walter Benjamin. In portraying his home, in presenting the rooms of his family members, the artist reveals to his audience his life, his private space, his most intimate side and in his absence he is yet more present than ever in this body of work. Theodoropoulos portrays physical spaces which are specific with the 'traces' of their occupants having left their impressions, yet present a general interest because they are a discourse on multiple spacial theories. Theodoropoulos leads us to rethink identity spacially, since his interiors are not only political, but are 'psychospacial closets' reminding us of Nietzsche's phrase, 'where there is space there is being'.
Postmodernism can be perceived or defined as a rupture with the aesthetic order of modernism, as a break with modernist ideology. Postmodernism transgressed the aesthetic and ideological limits imposed by modernism and opened up cultural codes.
In this process of change scholars and art historians alike, appeared skeptical and troubled and as pop art thrived in the 60's and as installations and photography thrive today questions such as 'is painting dead?' continue to plague them and answers are speculative.
Omar Zafar has come to offer answers through his art by presenting us his "Creatively Interactive Paintings". He believes that in order to predict the future (of painting) one must create it himself. The postmodern artist, as Zafar's art indicates, is not merely an antimodernist but he deconstructs only to reconstruct anew and expand aesthetic fields.
Zafar's art is about keeping painting alive by redefining it, by inventing a new vocabulary. In this "Creatively Interactive Paintings" he is the first to replace the canvas by a magnetic surface and vinyl coated magnets are moved around the surface by the viewer - who is now creator - creating abstract or specific forms. Forms are not fixed on his magnetic fields as roles are not fixed, thus breaking one of the oldest and most traditional conventions in art history, the distinction between creator and spectator. Zafar's art is not confined by limitations of any king. It is scientific in nature because it is experimental, it is ephemeral and undergoing continuous change as the spectator can tirelessly create new forms, thus resulting in his art being constantly in a flux, and therefore it is timeless. If as the artist believes there are two periods in painting, the period of creation and the period of function, then his "Creatively Interactive Paintings" fulfill both.
Zafar has realized what artist in the 60's tried to battle, and has made it an advantage in his art. In the 60's the artist realized that once their art work/creation left the studio and entered the system of art distribution or art market (e.g. galleries) and promotion (e.g. art critics, media) the artist had no control over his creation. It could be presented, interpreted, experienced, marketed in anyway the owner found suitable, often disregarding the initial intentions of the artist. Zafar realizing this creates art so that you can be the artist. From the beginning he does not seek to have the power of the creator but entrusts you with it. Imagine an artwork that is not of a specific time, that is not burdened by the biases of the creator, because the creator changes, so that the work is not created by a man or by a woman, but maybe even at times by both. J. F. Lyotard proved by using the example of Marcel Duchamp, the founding father of postmodernism who lived and produced postmodern art in a modernist period, that time is not linear. Time is circular.
Nikos Giavropoulo's work is a complete cycle. Inspired from famous, mainly classical images in western art history, such as the Madonna and Child, he recreates the image in video art adding motion but also reinterpreting the cliche depiction. The duration of the video work is usually between 15 minutes and from this he prints film stills. The final art product which is the film still, although pop in nature is technically a static image similar at first glance with the initial image he started with, hense the cycle is complete. The work of J. Giavropoulos presents a number of contradictions. This art can be described as "deconstructive" which is to say that the contradictions it enfolds it must use. It uses as methodological tools, the very concepts it calls into question. This is so because a convention, a tradition can only be deconstructed from within. Deconstruction thus becoming reinscription. This work is also referential; it refers to the traditional depictions of the Madonna and Child only to problematize the activity of reference. For example, the Madonna is one of the most common depictions of woman in art history, it is also the only female figure in Christian religion that is glorified and of somewhat equal value as her male counterpart - however it must be emphasized that her value stems only from the fact that she is the mother of Christ and she is not valued as an entity in herself but in relation to Christ. Here Giavropoulos upsets the system of references by depicting an unwedded single mother as a Madonna who is obviously distressed from the weight of baby Christ, thus wears an utterly fake and conventional smile. Thus it is obvious that Giavropoulos' art exists in a web of references, not necessarily located in any one form, medium or site. As the object is destructed so is the subject dislocated and the modernist order of the arts decentered. Such art is thus allegorical in nature dissolving the old order.
Curated by: Olinka Miliaresi Phoka
Artists: Nikos Giavropoulos, Giannis Theodoridis, Omar Zafar.
Opening: Wednesday, October 18, 20:30
Duration: 18 - 28.10.2000
25 A.Metaxa Str.,
106 81 Athens, Greece