Tuesday 18 September 2018

Odysseus and the Bathers - Paul Chan

Odysseus and the Bathers by Paul Chan

at the Cycladic Museum, Athens.

Odysseus and the Bathers brings together a major body of new and recent works by Paul Chan. Since the early 2000s, the New York-based artist's wide-ranging activities have encompassed sculpture, animation, publishing, performance and education.

At the heart of this exhibition is a sequence of bodies in motion. Chan calls these sewn fabric figures 'Bathers'. Each one is fashioned from a nylon shell attached to modified electrical fans. Drawing from pattern-making as much as from physics, Chan is able to choreograph these 'breathing artworks' to create different varieties and shades of motion. The artist sees these sculptures as acting like moving images, but rendered in three dimensions. For centuries, artists as different as Titian and Matisse have returned to the motif of the bather, in order to explore changing attitudes to nature, sexuality and the body.

In recent years, Chan's work has been deeply shaped by his reading of ancient Greek philosophy and poetry. A number of the Bathers presented here have titles that refer to characters and episodes in Homer's Odyssey. The exhibition title is drawn from an essay written by Chan called 'Odysseus as Artist', which pivots around the term polytropos. The word, which appears in the Odyssey's very first line, is frequently attached to Odysseus, and holds many meanings: wily, inventive, infinitely cunning. For Chan, polytropos is critical not only to how artists works, but to why art matters today.

La Baigneur, (Polypelope), 2018, (nylon, fan, dye paint on nylon)

Towel (Breaker in yellow and green), 2018, (acrylic on canvas hung on towel rack)

Towel (Trio blue and pink), 2018 (acrylic on canvas hung on towel rack)

Towel (Inhaler Under), 2018 (acrylic on canvas hung on towel rack)

Towel (emojis), 2018 (acrylic on canvas hung on towel rack)

Towel (Inhaler at Night, 2018 (acrylic on canvas hung on towel rack)

La Baigneur 7, (Teenyelemachus), 2018, (nylon, fan, dye paint on nylon, shoes, concrete, suicide cords)

Les Baigneurs (suitors as fugees as suitors), 2018,  (nylon, fans, artificial grass, emergency blanket)

Daemonium, 2012, (ink on paper)

Untitled, (towel), 2017, (gouache on paper)

Model (Trasher with blue stripes), 2018,  (fabric, wire, polyfil,  wood)

Model (Bender or Inhaler with shoes), 2018,  (fabric, plaster, wire, polyfil, wood)

Model (Trio), 2018, (fabric, wire, polyfil, wood)

Model (Duo with towel and bag), 2018, (fabric, wire, polyfil, wood)

Model (Sunset towel), 2017, (fabric, wire, polyfil, wood)

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