Tuesday 8 March 2022

Yiannis Adamakos

Yiannis Adamakos

at the Municipal Gallery, Athens.

We went to so many exhibitions last time we were in Athens, in the summer and autumn of 2021. I have not had time to post most of what we saw, but hopefully, I will be doing so in the next few months.

This exhibition was staged at the Metaxourgeio building, the old silk factory.

The building was designed by Danish neo-classicist architect Christian Hansen around the 1830s and was intended to house a large shopping centre similar to those found in major European cities.

These plans did not come to fruition however. A British company, A. Wrampe & Co bought the building in order to install in it a large silk factory. Launched in 1855, the silk factory was the first steam-powered plant in Greece, with excellent silk production that garnered international awards. It became a model factory, employing a large number of workers until 1875, when its operation was brought to a halt due to various problems.

In 1993, the site was donated to the Municipality of Athens. In 2007, work began restoring the complex, and the Metaxourgeio building was refurbished as the new Athens Municipal Gallery.

I love Yannis Adamakos' neo-expressionist paintings. Even though they are abstract, after careful observation, one can see everyday scenes emerging: a bathroom mirror, a busy street, an office.      There were hundreds in this exhibition - a real feast - and in this post I have only included the large ones. The much smaller ones which are equally breath-taking, will probably appear in a later post.

Yiannis Adamakos was born in Pyrgos in 1952. He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts under the painters Dimitris Mytaras, Georgeo Mavroides and Panayotis Tetsis. He died in 2021. This exhibition brings rogether works of the last three years of his life, (2019-2021), vividly reflecting the artist's inquisitive approach and firm belief in the emotional power of colour.

Throughout his artistic career, Adamakos has investigated the inherent possibilities of abstraction and the contemplative qualities of colour.

The motif of the cross - as an underlying building block - prevails in his latest work. The artist notes: 'I seek to capture the distance between the concrete and the abstract, between the explosion and the lull; I strive to incorporate randomness into an organised pictorial surface. The horizon, the serenity conveyed by the horizontal line, and the restlessness, the uplift induced by the vertical line, create the grid on which I build my painting'.

His paintings emanate serenity and calm. There is nothing calm in the creation of them however, which, until he achieves them he has been confronted with 'incredible conflict. It is the conflict between mind and emotion, that is, between conscious and unconscious - that which often comes out and you cannot control'.  As with the serene landscapes that appear before you after a cleansing storm, these works hide wihin an explosion, a glow, a dark heat.

' I would love my works to emit the emotion and serenity that Moralis' works bring in me', Adamakos confesses during an interview. 'This work (he shows an invitation from Bonhams' Greek Sale which features a painting by Yannis Moralis titled Positive), constantly generates feelings through its geometry which accompany me as I paint'.

Looking at one of his own works, he thinks out loud: 'I wonder if it needs fewer elements. The bet is to integrate reason into emotion. Because this is a brain process. Yet, how to go about it so that it doesn't show? I thik of some of Turner's works, made up of only a handful of brushstrokes, where it's as if you could actually hear the wind. How can this be done? I don't know, I'm looking for it'.

As to the issue of abstract art being inaccessible to the general public, Adamakos' feelings are clear on this: 'I don't believe that painting must explain things', he notes. 

Insight A, (oil on canvas)

Insight I, (oil on canvas)

Insight J, (oil on canvas)

Insight H,2021, (oil on canvas)

Insight G, 2019, (oil on canvas)

Insight B, 2019, (oil on canvas)

Insight C, 2020, (oil on canvas)

Insight K, 2019, (oil on canvas)

Insight S, 2021, (oil on canvas)

Insight R, 2020, (oil on canvas)

Insight Q, 2021, (oil on canvas)

Insight P, 2020, (oil on canvas)

Insight O, 2021, (oil on canvas)

Insight N, 2020, (oil on canvas)

Insight M, 2020, (oil on canvas)

Insight L, 2021, (oil on canvas)


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