Wednesday 14 August 2013

Kyriakos Katzourakis - A Retrospective: political works

Kyriakos Katzourakis, at the Benaki Museum, Pireos Street Annexe.
I am doing three posts of this very thought-provoking exhibition, since Katzourakis is such a prolific artist. This second post is about his overtly political work. You can see the first one here .
'My own small revolt began with the murder of Sotiris Petroulas (Petroulas was murdered during a demonstration in 1965) and the murder of Grigoris Grigoropoulos (the 15-year old was murdered by a policeman in 2008) reinforced my view that any sort of protest will be put down by authority'.
Living under the dark shadow of the military junta, his early work reflects the state of Greece at the time.
Since the advent of the economic crisis and the rise of the neo-Nazi party, and the relentless persecution of immigrants and asylum seekers in the streets of Greece by the fascists and by the government, Katzourakis has mourned what he sees as the mutation of a democratic nation into a matrix of violence and bigotry. Not only does he see this violence as unacceptable, but he also despairs about the apathy that characterises the majority of the Greek population: fear, unease and repulsion are not enough, according to the artist. Empathy is what is needed, the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of the weak and to view the world through their eyes - it's the only way to regain our lost dignity. He has consequently put the Immigrant centre stage in his work, the immigrant as Other, Foreigner, on the edge of society, misunderstood, scared, persecuted, a victim of exploitation, bearer of a tragic experience that can only be understood if that experience becomes part of our own existence.
 'Greek citizens in today's society have no voice, they are mute, they are powerless in the face of a strong repressive state that is determined to quash the welfare state, education, empathy, everyday life, civilisation as we know it. Our times are marked by the rise of fascism, racism, the triumph of evil. People expect some sort of Messiah to come and save them, whereas it is only people themselves who can stamp out evil'.


Junta, 1968 (oil on canvas)

Greek Family, 1973 (acrylic on canvas)

The Conference Participant, 1969, (oil on canvas)

Che, 1968 (oil on canvas)

The Exception, 1968, (oil on canvas)

Politician, 1968 (oil on canvas)

The Banquet, 1971, (oil on canvas)

'68, 1968, (oil on canvas)

Days of '68, 1968 (acrylic on canvas)

Greeting, 1968, (oil on canvas)

Soldier, 1969 (oil on canvas)

Abuse of Power, 1973, (oil on canvas)

Prison II, 2010 (oil on canvas)

Prison III, 2009, (oil on canvas)

Finally, a certificate from the United Nations thanking Katzourakis for the work he has done for immigrants and asylum seekers.

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