Venia Dimitrakopoulou
Primordial Future

Three exhibitions in Italy

Palermo – Torino – Tergesti

curated by Afrodite Oikonomidou and Matteo Pacini
with critic text by Franco Fanelli


22 February – 31 March 2019

Opening Thursday 21 February, 6:30pm
Turin, via Modane 20

From 22 February to 31 March 2019, the Gallery of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin will host an exhibition of the work of Greek sculptress Venia Dimitrakopoulou, entitled Venia Dimitrakopoulou. Primordial Future – Logos, curated by Afrodite Oikonomidou and Matteo Pacini.

The Italian tour of the multifaceted artist continues in Turin with her second major solo show containing a new selection of works. Of particular note are two large installations: a site specific work Ellampsis (2019) created for the occasion, which takes the form of a steel epigraph with a ‘prophetic’ luminous test, and the installation Dialogues (2019), a series of books deconstructed into imposing steel plates and delicate Chinese papers on which phrases float in black and red ink, inspired by sociological research carried out among ordinary people, the expression of voices that do not usually capture media attention. In fact, Venia Dimitrakopoulou has arrived in Italy with her triptych of exhibitions during a difficult and dramatic phase for Western history and the destiny of Europe, composed of walls, populism, nationalism, racial discrimination and new frontiers, as Franco Fanelli remarks in his introduction to the catalogue. However, it is precisely in a crisis that ‘the hero’, in this case the artist who is capable of awakening the collective conscience, “needs to know how to pose the right questions to the right people. In a crisis, heroes always seek their answers at the deepest level”. For this reason Dimitrakopoulou questions and investigates myth, history and the recent past, right down to the common roots of Italy and Greece, moving from “the ivory tower of art to the control tower of the social condition”, to quote philosopher Dionysis Kavvathas.

The major theme of the entire Turin exhibition is the ‘logos’, the word that becomes a sign and, at the same time, the sign that becomes a word, and is thus well suited to the white surfaces of the exhibition space, which seem to evoke ‘unwritten pages’ as the sculptress suggests: “All the works on show have one thing in common: they are covered with texts that almost appear to be automatic writing. Artist’s books, leporellos, diaries, and again the Shirt of Nessus and the Secret Armour. Indeed these two works act as a link between the exhibition in Palermo – Primordial Future – Matter, which ended at the Salinas Museum on 3 February – and the Turin exhibition, as Fanelli again points out: “In these two, splendid works on paper, inscribed within the shape of an ancient religious tunic or perhaps that of a banner, covered in tormented writings, the alpha and omega come to life along with a joining of opposites and circularity, like constellations across Dimitrakopoulou’s work”. A duality that exists both in the format of the works on show and in the message they convey, which describes a universal condition in the most imposing creations, and an intimate world in those on a smaller scale, among them A diary, 3.107 Linethoughts, Labirinth, Amulet, and the series Summer Days and Cold Days, veritable artist’s books that form personal anthologies of interior experiences.

Indian ink, pastel, watercolour and collage on rare papers result in works that range in size from small to large, in a spirit of stylistic and technical nomadism spanning traditional sculpture, installation, video, performance, writing and graphics, which, as Fanelli points out, represents “a condition that is coherent and necessary for an artist who, in a classical exile, lives and works on the brink of an epochal shift. The brink is a recurring metaphor in her work, as is the concept of the double, of chronological circularity, of the oxymoron that gives the Italian triptych its name, “Primordial Future”. These are all concepts that refer emphatically to that idea of a border, perhaps the most frequent of her artistic themes, alongside metamorphosis, which for the artist represents an essential and poetic condition”.

The exhibition at the Gallery of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin is under the patronage of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Embassy of Greece in Rome, the Regione Piemonte, the City of Turin, the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Athens (EMST), the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti – Turin, the DAMS degree course at the University of Turin, the Piedmont-Greece Association ‘Santorre di Santarosa’, and the Italian-Greek Cultural Training Association ‘Microkosmos’. The event is the second stage of a trilogy of Italian exhibitions organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture – Italy in collaboration with Artespressione in Milan, the Italian gallery representing the artist for this series of exhibitions, which will continue from 12 April to 14 June 2019 in Trieste at the Civico Museo Sartorio and the Castello di San Giusto with other new works on the theme of ‘Sound’.

Venia Dimitrakopoulou’s three exhibitions in Italy – in Palermo, Turin and Trieste – are part of the Tempo Forte Italia – Grecia programme, an initiative promoted by the Italian Embassy in Athens and ratified during the First Intergovernmental Summit between Italy and Greece, held on 14 September 2017 on Corfu, whose purpose is to encourage and support the strengthening of cultural ties between the two countries, maintaining a balance between the various cultural spheres, from the traditional to the contemporary, and from the past to the future.

The exhibition series is accompanied by a complete bilingual catalogue in Italian and English, published by Umberto Allemandi.

Exhibition details – Turin
Venia Dimitrakopoulou. Primordial Future – Logos
Exhibition organized by Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Italy
Curated by Afrodite Oikonomidou and Matteo Pacini
Venue: Gallery of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, via Modane 20, Turin
Dates: 22 February – 31 March 2019
Grand opening: Thursday 21 February, 6:30pm
Opening hours: Thursday 8-11pm; Friday – Saturday – Sunday 12-7pm
Entrance free
Catalogue published by Umberto Allemandi with critic text by Franco Fanelli


Primordial Future

Palermo, Piazza Olivella 24
16 November 2018 – 3 February 2019

Curated by Afrodite Oikonomidou and Matteo Pacini
with critic text by Franco Fanelli

The Greek sculptress Venia Dimitrakopoulou returns to Italy with a unique solo exhibition hosted by the Regional Archaeological Museum “Antonino Salinas” of Palermo from 16 November 2018 to 3 February 2019, titled “Venia Dimitrakopoulou. Primordial future – Matter.

 The complex creative world of the artist is portrayed at the Salinas Museum, through a remarkable selection of works – sculptures, papers and installations, some of which are displayed for the first time, in an exhibition, curated by Afrodite Oikonomidou and Matteo Pacini, which creates a dialogue with the archaeological collections displayed permanently in the museum halls. The Salinas museum is indeed the oldest museum in Sicily and hosts the most important public collection dedicated to Greek and Punic arts on the island. Under the guidance of its Director, Francesca Spatafora, in the last few years the museum has broadened its scope to include contemporary art forms.

The entire project is under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Embassy of Greece in Rome, the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Athens (EMST), the Department for Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity – Sicily Region and the City of Palermo.

It is also part of the events within the project ‘Palermo – Italian Capital of Culture 2018’.

The Palermo exhibition is the first part of the Italian Trilogy (Trilogia Italia), which is organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture– Italy in cooperation with the Sicilian Institute of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies “Bruno Lavagnini” and the art gallery Artespressione of Milan, representing the artist in Italy during this event which will also visit Turin and Trieste. The exhibition, which will present site-specific works, especially created for each city, will be held in important exhibition sites: in addition to the SALINAS MUSEUM of Palermo, there are the GALLERY of the SANDRETTO RE REBAUDENGO FOUNDATION in Turin, from 22 February to 31 March 2019, then the SARTORIO MUSEUM and SAN GIUSTO CASTLE in Trieste, from 12 April to 14 June 2019.

The “Trilogy” highlights the theme running through the whole artistic production of the Greek sculptress: the continuous dialogue between the past and the present, starting from the rich archaeological heritage that bonds the Greek culture to that of Italy. Hence, the title “Primordial Future” expanded with a specific subtitle for each of the three exhibitions: in Palermo it is “Matter”, in Turin “Logos” and in Trieste “Sound”. «The three exhibitions are connected by the same thread, the one I hold tight in my hand so as not to get lost and which here I call Primordial Future. – the artist clarifies – This thread comes from the depths of time, and conscious of the present, I feel that it can lead us to the future, making it a bit less uncertain»

Matter is the main theme in all the works displayed at the Salinas Museum – from volcanic stones to fragile handmade Chinese paper, from bronze to marble and plaster – which evidences the way archeology exists in contemporaneity and how the immersion in the past enables the comprehension of the present. The artist herself explains it: «In Palermo, I show the volcanic stones, the heads of fallen warriors and heroes, as well as works made on Chinese paper. The Shirts of Nessus, the Secret Armor and the Linethoughts. I will attempt a dialogue between the ephemeral and the eternal, the fragile and the resilient, exploring the way in which archaeology unveils matter in the present. Matter is the theme and the title of the exhibition here».

Venia Dimitrakopoulou decides to contemplate and sense the spaces of her exhibition tour one by one, creating new site-specific works in order to stay “tuned” with the creative act just as she imagines it: «a continuous process, a flow in which everything is open to the unexpected».

Thus, at the Archeological Museum of Palermo, plaster works, bronzes and volcanic stones from Aegina (the island where the artist has her studio) become heads and faces of ancient warriors, heroes and demigods, often with their mouths half open, as in Agamemnon (2005-2009) and Pelops (2009). Next to them, Spears (2018) in marble and gilded brass tell of the past of the Aegean through hidden features and rise up as bastions, tools of defence. In these works, the raw material determines the aesthetic shape of the sculptures, which – connecting with the environment where they are displayed – emphasize the historical references and characteristics of their place of origin and narrate a personal story that guides visitors in their contemplations and interpretation.

Venia Dimitrakopoulou’s contemporary creations develop indeed in a constant balance between modern experimentation and aesthetics, traditional materials and techniques and range from small scale to monumental works. In this regard, the monumental sculpture Promahones is significant. Installed in the garden of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, it is re-enacted in Palermo in a series of photographs Promahones-Shadows (2014). Composed of giant slanting steel disks, open at the extremities, the sculpture, as per Franco Fanelli’s words, «greatly enriches the entanglement of shadows projected by these shapes, doubling them, multiplying them».

By using stone, marble, plaster, metal or paper – which are suitable to express a stylistic nomadism that goes from the traditional sculpture to the installation, from video to action, from writing to the graphic sign – the artist investigates the characteristics and behaviours of matter. She breathes life into figures and objects thus born. An example of this, is the video Zoodochos Pighi/Life-giving Spring (2011), a dramatic work in the etymological meaning of the word, in which the hands of the artist rise up to symbolize the generating force of the sculptural dimension, in an incessant metamorphic process of creation and destruction of shape.

All Dimitrakopoulou’s works have a deep anthropocentric nature and reflect on the role of human existence in space and time. A feature that the artist willingly catches in her creative process, calling the observers to take part in her artistic expression, to live it as a relation with himself or herself, through inner experiences, mentally and sentimentally. As it is in the series on paper Shirts of Nessus and Linethoughts (both from 2011) where – by using automatic writing on the shape of an ancient tunic or banner – the intimate dimension of the artist appears in different languages. She frees her emotions and thoughts and then hides them partially behind a line, almost as if to delete them, but never completely.

The three exhibitions of Venia Dimitrakopoulou in Italy are part of the “Tempo Forte Italy – Greece 2018 programme, an initiative promoted by the Embassy of Italy in Athens and sanctioned during the First Intergovernmental Meeting between Italy and Greece held on 14 September 2017 in Corfu. It is aimed at promoting and supporting the strengthening of cultural relationships between the two Mediterranean countries, in accordance with a balance among various cultural fields, from tradition to contemporary, from the past to the future.

A catalogue, published by Umberto Allemandi with an introductory text by Franco Fanelli, art critic and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, accompanies the entire exhibition tour.


Short biography: Venia Dimitrakopoulou was born in Athens, Greece, in 1965. She learnt sculpture at the first Workshop of Sculpture in the Athens School of Fine Arts while studying theatre at the Athens Conservatoire Drama School. She has also attended drawing classes at the Atelier Vivant of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA). She lives and works in Athens and on the island of Aegina. She is a member of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece (EETE).

She has presented her work in solo exhibitions and participated in group shows in Greece and abroad. Her work is located in public spaces as well as private collections in Greece and abroad.

In 2014, Venia Dimitrakopoulou. Promahones was published by Hatje Cantz, a publication that focuses on her large-scale sculpture Promahones, presented at the Benaki Museum in Athens during the winter of 2014-2015. Since 2016, this public sculpture has been installed in the garden of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

In recent years, she has been active in Italy with solo exhibitions and participating in well known art events. In November 2015, she presented her artistic activity and work in Venice, to the students of the University Ca’ Foscari, in the context of Biennale Sessions of the Venice Biennale 2015 and in collaboration with Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI) Sezione giovani di Venezia and the Hellenic Foundation of Culture in Italy. The two meetings, entitled “Images of Contemporary Greece in Venice” and “Interview by Giorgia Florio of Venia Dimitrakopoulou”, curated by Caterina Carpinato, were realized in collaboration with the University Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and the art gallery Artespressione of Paula Nora Seegy in Milan.

In 2016, one of her drawings was selected to become the cover of the revised publication of Mario Vitti’s History of Modern Greek Literature (Cafoscarina publications, Venice). In the April of the same year, she had her first personal show in Italy, at the art gallery Artespressione Milan (curated by Charis Kanellopoulou and Matteo Pacini).

Ιn January 2017, the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella made her a Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia, in recognition of her contribution, through her artistic work, to creating bonds with Italy, a country with which she feels deeply connected.

She participates in the working group, “Tempo Forte”, a cultural initiative of the Italian Embassy in Greece that promotes cultural dialogue and the establishment at an intergovernmental level of common aspects of the identity of the two countries. As part of this programme, Venia Dimitrakopoulou will present a series of personal exhibitions entitled “Primordial Future” in Palermo, Turin and Trieste, from November 2018 till June 2019.


Exhibition details – Palermo

Title Venia Dimitrakopoulou. Primordial Future – Matter
Exhibition organized by Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Italy
Curated by Afrodite Oikonomidou and Matteo Pacini
Venue Regional Archaeological Museum “Antonino Salinas”, Piazza Olivella 24, Palermo
Dates 16 November 2018 – 3 February 2019
Press Preview Thursday, 15 November at 11:30am
Grand opening Thursday, 15 November at 6:00pm
Opening hours Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-6:00pm; Sundays and public holidays 9:30am-1:00pm
Entrance fee included in the museum ticket, € 3.00; free under 18 and every first Sunday of the month
Catalogue published by Umberto Allemandi with introductory text by Franco Fanelli
Info to the public CoopCulture ph. +39 091 7489995 www.coopculture.it


Next exhibition in Trieste
Venia Dimitrakopoulou. Primordial Future – Sound
Venue Sartorio City Museum and San Giusto Castle, Trieste
Dates 12 April – 14 June 2019

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Exhibition in Torino


Exhibition in Palermo

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