Sunday 20 April 2014

On the Origins of Art

On the Origins of Art by Artemis Potamianou, Gallery Ekphrasi, Valaoritou 9a, Athens.

This was a very thought-provoking and instructive exhibition, a bit like a quick look at art history. I am not sure whether I can do it justice in this post. All the arrows in the picture below pointed to the historical and artistic connections between all the paintings.

Potamianou's main preoccupation in this exhibition was to challenge traditional notions of originality in art - originality in the sense that traditionally, the artwork was seen as the creation of the 'genius artist', rather than a re-working, re-interpretation of previous work which is what the history of art is: each artist building on what has been done before, or as Douglas Crimp put it, 'underneath each picture there is always another picture'.

Potamianou also wanted to demonstrate that artists are inspired by other artists, that art can be a response to something that already exists and that each person can see things differently so that perception is an individual experience.

In the post-modernist tradition, Potamianou has deconstructed some of the seminal paintings of Western art and then constructed them again with Darwin's The Origin of the Species superimposed on the known images. The result is reminiscent of digitized images or jigsaw puzzles.

Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour)

A painting whose influence runs through three hundred years of art history. A painting that is not a great favourite among the wider public, but has fascinated artists because of the games it plays with our ways of seeing. It's a self-portrait of the artist painting a subject, standing where the viewer would be. We can see the couple who are being painted in the reflection in the mirror on the back wall. We are the watchers and the watched.

Artemis Potamianou, Las Meninas (after Velazquez)

looking closer at the 3D effect through the cutting and pasting, as well as Darwin's text

Francisco de Goya, Las Meninas, (after Velazquez)

Pablo Picasso, Las Meninas (after Velazquez). Picasso made 44 versions

Artemis Potamianou, (after Picasso's Las Meninas)

Salvador Dali, Las Meninas (after Velazquez)

Artemis Potamianou, Las Meninas (after Salvador Dali)

Joel-Peter Witkin, Las Meninas (self-portrait after Velazquez)

Richard Hamilton, Las Meninas

(this did not figure in the exhibition, but I got carried away))

Edouard Manet, Dejeuner sur l'Herbe

Artemis Potamianou, Dejeuner sur l'Herbe, (after Manet)


looking closer


looking closer

Pablo Picasso, Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (after Manet)

Artemis Potamianou, Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (after Picasso)

Edouard Manet, The Balcony

Artemis Potamianou, The Balcony (after Manet)

Rene Magritte, Perspective II, Manet's Balcony

Artemis Potamianou, (after Magritte's Balcony)

Jacques-Louis David, Portrait of Madame Recamier

Artemis Potamianou, Portrait of Madame Recamier (after David)

Rene Magritte, Perspective I, David's Madame Recamier

 Artemis Potamianou, Perspective I, David's Portrait of Madame Recamier, 1950, (after Magritte)

Diego Velazquez, Portrait of Innocent X, 1650

Artemis Potamianou, Portrait of Innocent X (after Velazquez)

Francis Bacon, Portrait of Innocent X, 1989

Artemis Potamianou, Portrait of Innocent X (after Bacon)

Johannes Vermeer, View of Delft, 1660

Artemis Potamianou, View of Delft, (after Vermeer)

Salvator Dali, The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft, Which Can be Used as a Table, 1934

Artemis Potamianou, The Ghost of Vermeer.... (after Dali)

Francisco de Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814

 Artemis Potamianou, The Third of May 1808 (after Goya)

Edouard Manet, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1868-69

Artemis Potamianou, The Execution.... (after Manet)

Pablo Picasso, Massacre in Korea, 1951

Artemis Potamianou, Massacre in Korea (after Picasso)

The last piece of work: a reference to Joseph Kosuth.

Kosuth argued that traditional art-historical discourse had reached its end. In its place he proposed a radical investigation of the means through which art acquires its cultural significance and its status as art: 'Being an artist now means to question the nature of art...'  As an analytical proposition, art presupposes the existence of an aesthetic entity that fulfils the criteria of 'artness'. This criteria, as Marcel Duchamp proved with his readymades, could consist merely of the declaration 'this is a work of art'.

For Kosuth the totality of an artwork was the idea behind it. Taking the position that actual art objects, such as paintings or sculptures were beside the point, unnecessary, or old-fashioned, he made the explanation of concepts his central focus. He used this linguistic approach to explore the social, political, cultural and economic contexts through which art is presented and thus defined. His writings were especially important to laying out the philosophy behind conceptual art.

In the basement an installation: all the works of art that did not make it to art history - note that they are the foundation that holds the ceiling up.

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