Don’t read me if you haven’t attended
the funerals of strangers or at least memorial services.
If you haven’t divined the strength
that makes love the rival of death.
(Romantic Epilogue), Nikos Karouzos
In his novel "Of Love and Other Demons" (Del amor y otros demonios) Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez describes a myth about a mysterious young girl with long bronze hair whose curls continue to grow even inside her tomb after her death. The exhibition Of Death and Other Demons lends this image of the dead girl to present the third consecutive group show at CAN gallery following Nyctophilia (2015) and Tender Is The Night (2016) and reflect upon the themes of darkness and death through seventeen artworks and one publication.
According to Greek mythology, Sleep and his twin brother Death were gods, sons of Night and Erebus. Sleep was considered to be a quiet and peaceful god or demon who wondered earth and was usually depicted as a handsome young man sleeping on a bed or spreading seeds of sweet dreams on earth, or as a demon with wings carrying a dead man through death. In the work The Gates of Horn and Ivory Panayiotis Loukas and Malvina Panagiotidi combine these two versions of Sleep in a figure made of clay with excellent finesse, imagination and detail. The title of the work is a literary image that appears for the first time in the Odyssey when Penelope expresses her disbelief to the dream that her husband Odysseus is going to return. Later on, the phrase is often used to convey that true dreams (those that are prophetic and are realised) pass through the gates of horn, while false dreams (those that do not correspond to real events and/or never come true) come through the gates of ivory. The candle as a symbol is a reminder of internal alteration or change. As that melts while it burns, likewise experiences change people. At the same time, the burnt down candle is a reminder of death. It evokes the passage of time, the transience of life and the fragility of human existence. Every Morning There Is Something Wrong is a characteristic work by Panayiotis Loukas
who masterfully combines lyricism with black humour, unfolding in his paintings a personal iconography composed by fantastic creatures, enigmatic landscapes and allegorical representations that operate in a symbolic level. His titles, usually ironic or satirical, tend to mislead the viewer spreading a veil of mystery around dark, ambiguous narratives.
In the book "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" Kandinsky describes black as "Nichts, ein Nichts", that means a nothing that has no potential, a zero that died as the sun faded, an endless silence without future or hope, like a burnt out fire or a corpse with no sense of feeling. He also calls it "death
black". A colour that absorbs all and becomes the echo of a cold-hearted sorrow. Dimitris Efeoglou uses this language that unites forms with colours and even materials through the perception of texture (soft-hard, light-heavy,
durable-fragile) to deal with the notion of transformation and destruction producing perforated drawings/sculptures that explore the limits of materials and senses.
The Magician and the totem-like works by Marianna Ignataki focus on the relationship of magic with life and death. The totems take their titles based on the similarity of their shape to Chinese ideograms (Shǔ 鼠 The Rat (The
Ugly) / Shān 山 Sunny The Mountain (The Lady) / Xiǎo Dòng 洞 小 The Little Hole (The Cave)) and are related to the ancient teachings of Confucius in regards to the body. According to Confucius (551-479 BC) hair does not belong to the individual but to his ancestors. Cutting them can be disrespectful, a destruction of the body, an insult to the family, to morals and traditions. From ancient to modern China the length and style of hair was also associated
with social status, ethnicity, even political beliefs. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) a shaved front with the rest of the hair braided in a long ponytail was obligatory for men and the only means to stay alive. Anyone who disobeyed
wearing a different hairstyle was considered a rebel to the emperor's rule and was punished with decapitation.
A few years after her collaborations in Greece with DESTE Foundation and Athina Rachel Tsangari in the short film The Capsule (2012) the well-known Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska is presenting four characteristic 25x35cm
works on carton that narrate a series of surreal scenarios, painted in a naive or neo-Gothic style. Waliszewska fuses images that look like if they came out of some twisted fairy tale, with medieval references and archetypal scenes from the history of art, creating works that are dark and often macabre. Death, constantly present in her oeuvre, becomes a consensus that stares directly into the viewers’ eyes, while even the most terrifying set-ups seem to scarcely frighten their protagonists.
Xoanon is a work by female film-making duo TWIN AUTOMAT (Irini Karayannopoulou and Sandrine Cheyrol). Their films take shape as animations, pseudo-documentaries and video installations that explore global social and
philosophical issues through a plethora of DIY, low fi and experimental practices. Xoanon consists of a frenetic but extremely precise montage of findings, original footage, archival and documentary material. This "accidental" collection travels from religious to paranormal phenomena depicting the need of mankind to understand the universe and praise someone for its creation. We come across both formal and alternative belief systems and practices, meet a girl who complains about the commodification of death in our time, encounter UFOs, even a preacher who sees God in every little cloud. In addition, magic potions, dark visions and survival tips compose a work that takes us repeatedly from the real to the metaphysical and from reason to myth and vice versa.
SAPROPHYTES consists of Nadja Argyropoulou, Marina Vranopoulou, Aris Tsoutsas / Yannis Kouroudis (K2 design), Malvina Panagiotidi, Giasemi Perou and Yorgos Tzirtzilakis. Saprophytes 01: Atlas Horribilis. Documents of Occult and
Paranormal Phenomena is a publication that proposes a new narrative genre -the "novel of the inauthentic"- comprising a non-linear montage of findings, reproductions and documentary material. It includes cut outs from books, newspaper and magazine articles, details of news stories and comics, museum
material and amateur photographs relating to a series of uncanny, occult, terrifying, paranormal phenomena. This “random” but comprehensive collection is drawn exclusively from local sources, a fact that accentuates the local
cultural framework of the mediascape. Emmanouil Bitsakis exhibits three small-sized paintings -characteristic
of his practice- where death plays the leading role. In one of them, in La Perdita della Principessa (The Loss of the Princess) we see him dressed as the Princess who was eaten by the wolf. With Hymettos mountain stretching in the
background, the Dermatological and Venereological Hospital Andreas Syggros in the foreground, as well as buildings that in reality are not located in Athens, we see the notorious beast of Gévaudan devouring the artist. His loss does not merely symbolize grief or death but acts as an example for others. The Princess is not just another casual victim but the author himself that is sacrificed.
The "Gévaudan Beast" that inspired the Grimm brothers to write several fairy tales was a mysterious animal that appeared in 1764 in the Gévaudan region of south-central France and which for three years was terrifying the inhabitants of the area with its attacks. It was described as a wolf-like creature that had the size of a cow and even to this day scholars have failed to identify it with any known species. Usually the victims of the beast were women and young children who kept their flocks in the fields. The bodies of the unfortunate victims were brutally mutilated or horribly disfigured to a degree they were often unrecognizable. Live witnesses reported that the monster smelt unbearably. Also, while animals were present, it chose to attack humans. The way it killed his victims was to break their neck with his teeth. According to a rough estimation, the monster killed over 100 people and seriously injured another 30. De Beaufor (1987) reported 210 attacks that resulted in 113 deaths and 49 injuries. Despite the large degree of illiteracy in the area, these stories are well known and documented through directories held by some educated local clerics such as the abbot Pierre Pourcher who wrote over a 1,000 pages on
the events. Many hypotheses have been made about the nature of the strange animal. None has been universally accepted and scholars, historians and naturalists continue to disagree to the present day. During the time the beast
was active, the horrified villagers considered it to be a werewolf, a satanic creature controlled by a witch, a divine punishment for their sins, even a personification of the devil. Some theories ultimately conclude to the view
that it was a hybrid of a wild wolf, or a teratogenesis between a wolf and a dog or a bear. The largest of Konstantinos Ladianos’ works depicts a girl lying on a bed which could be a deathbed. It is a rare - if not the only- example of the
artist’s work so far that is not based on a portrait of a real person. Resting her head on a black pillow and her hands on her heart, the young girl who is either dead or sleeping is surrounded by the dreams and aspirations of her
whole life. Is this a life which was abruptly cut off? Everything she would have experienced from childhood to adulthood through death spreads out like a curtain before our eyes. Next to this work hangs another of Ladianos' “death- paintings” that depicts a man lying on a daybed. The way the viewer is forced to look through the holes on the engraved aluminium to view the painted parts brings to mind byzantine icons of saints which are covered with silver and other precious metals leaving visible only small parts of the painted surface.
Is this young man a saint? Has he already been sanctified or does he live among us? Boundaries and narratives in the works of Ladianos are often interwoven illustrating what the English poet (and Catholic priest) Gerard Manley Hopkins describes in one of his poems as "All life death does not end and every day dies with sleep".
of Death and Other Demons
Opening: Tuesday 24 of April, 8p.m.
Duration: 24.04.18 - 26.05.18
Tuesday - Friday: 12am - 3pm / 5pm - 8pm
Saturday: 12am - 4pm
and by appointment
CAN CHRISTINA ANDROULIDAKI GALLERY
42 ANAGNOSTOPOULOU STR
10673 Athens GR