Tuesday 19 March 2019

A vision of public sculpture

A Vision of Public Sculpture - George Zongolopoulos

at the Niarchos Cultural Centre.

Untitled, 1981, (stainless steel)

Alexander, 1968, (bronze)

Aphaia, 1966, (steel with colour)

Umbrellas, 1997, (steel) - model

Zongolopoulos is probably most known for his sculptures of umbrellas.

An iconic sculpture, 13m high, comprising 40 stainless steel umbrellas, fixed on diagonal metallic axes. In 1995, the sculpture was installed  at the entrance of the Venice Biennale and in 1997 it was placed at the Thessaloniki waterfront when the city was named European Capital of Culture. In 2013 it was eventually located at the city's remodelled seafront promenade becoming a national landmark.

In 1998, Zongolopoulos created a similar 9m sculptural for Psychiko, the Athens neighbourhood where he lived most of his life. There is another sculpture of umbrellas in one of the stations of the Athens underground.

Tel-Neant, 1999, (steel)

looking closer

Model for Atrium, 1999, (stainless steel)

This sculpture featuring colourful umbrellas and ladders was created in 1999 in situ at the opening for the tunnel boring machine used for the Athens Metro construction, at the Syntagma station. 'I was mainly interested in reusing the huge hole. I see it as a subway tool. I imagined it would be depressing for someone to be underground beneath the hole. The ladders towards the sky symbolise our need to climb towards the top. However, they are not consecutive, they are broken'.

Monument of Gorgopotamos, 1985, (steel)

Model for the Monument at Zalongo, 1954 

The sculpture is made of concrete supported by 4,300 limestone blocks. Being 18m long and 15m high, it is one of the largest sculptures in Greece, visible from a distance of 35km. It depicts six abstract female figures holding hands and dancing, progressively becoming larger towards the cliff, symbolising sacrifice and love of freedom.

The Dance of Zalongo refers to the mass suicide of women from Souli and their children in December 16, 1803. After being trapped by Ottoman Albanian troops, near the village of Zalongo in Epirus, modern Greece, then occupied by the Ottoman Empire, 22 women decided to turn towards the cliff's edge together with their infants and children, rather than surrender. According to tradition they did this one after the other, while dancing and singing. A legend, based on historical facts, it's considered a monumental act of bravery, an inspirational symbol of heroism and self-sacrifice in the name of freedom and human dignity.

Model of the cliffs at Zalongo

looking closer

Model for the head of the largest figure of the Monument of Zalongo, 2008

Poseidon, 1953, (bronze)

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