Alexandra Athanassiades

Shaping the Intangible

03.07 - 02.10.2022

This summer, the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation presents at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Andros a retrospective exhibition dedicated to Alexandra Athanassiades, titled Shaping the Intangible, from July 3, 2022 through October 2, 2022.

Covering almost five decades of creation, the exhibition, which is not displayed chronologically, gives visitors the opportunity to discover the different aspects of Athanassiades’ artistic journey, from the early works of her childhood to the present.

The exhibition first takes us to the artist’s workshop, where Athanassiades has been working for thirty years. The workshop, which overlooks a lush green garden where her artworks prevail, is the place where she creates, draws, paints and takes photographs, as well as carefully stores, here and there, scattered fragments of wood, metal and paper that patiently await their transformation into works of art.

From the workshop we move on to the seashores, where Athanassiades finds most of the materials she uses in her works of art. By combining works of different techniques and eras, she has produced an installation full of poetry and sadness, reminiscent of Constantine Cavafy’s poem “Morning Sea”.

We then discover an unknown aspect of her artistic journey: the fundamental role of abstraction at the end of the 1970s. Most of the works in this section, which are presented to the Greek public for the first time, highlight the impact that sculptors such as Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti have had on Athanassiades, which nonetheless has not altered her own, very personal and perceptive gaze.

Following a 25-year leap, we reach a section exclusively dedicated to Constantine P. Cavafy, where Athanassiades reveals an unexpected world, full of colour and sensuality. Here, the artist pays tribute to the love she shares with Cavafy for the harmonious union of ancient and modern; the recollection, full of grace and subtlety, of his feelings and urges; the claim of a sensual, erotic even, approach to the human body; the importance of the past, its exploration, its integration and its acceptance.

Cavafy’s poetry under the gaze of Athanassiades allows for a natural transition to the world of horses, a key subject in her artistic exploration. Made of metal or paper, the horses represent what she describes as “two parts of [her] self. The part that keeps its head down, moves on and does what needs to be done, and the part that is wild and refuses to do so”.

The exhibition culminates with a section exploring the cornerstone of Athanassiades’ art: the human body. Female and male figures, made of wood, metal and paper and inspired by mythology, by herself, by her father or her husband, co-exist in this section and reveal all aspects of her work, even the darkest ones. Here, her personal experience runs through the matter and touches us with disarming honesty, yet always with sensitivity and subtleness.

The exhibition Alexandra Athanassiades – Shaping the Intangible is a uniform art installation, as the sections blend with each other. The artist played a decisive role in constructing this narrative, with the help of the Foundation’s trusted partners Paraskevi Gerolymatou and Andreas Georgiadis.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue (in Greek and English) created by the curator of the exhibition Marie Koutsomallis-Moreau, published by the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation and edited by Mikri Arktos.

Alexandra Athanassiades lives and works in Athens. She studied at Lugano’s Franklin College and then graduated with distinction from the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. She has also received a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Columbia University, New York.

She initially became involved with set design, before turning to sculpture. She has shown her work in many solo and group exhibitions in Athens, Delphi, Ancient Messene, Poros, Larissa, Thessaloniki, Herakleion, Patmos, Ioannina, Paris, New York, Connecticut, Brussels, London and Monte Carlo, where in 1995 she won the Princess Grace Foundation Award. Several of her works can be found in important collections around the world.

Exhibition Catalog

Alexandra Athanassiades - Shaping the Intangible

2022 Exhibition Catalogue

  • Marie Koutsomallis-Moreau, Kyriakos Koutsomallis, Filippia Cheilitsi,
  • Published
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