From its beginning the National Museum of Contemporary Art set, inter alia, a double goal. This was, on the one hand, to bring the Greek audience into contact with the international contemporary art. And, on the other hand, to present significant experimental and critical forms, which would allow us to showcase the international potential of the artistic production in Greece, connecting it with the dominant today discourse, for a multifaceted, open and decentred international art by creators from diverse geographical regions of the world. We continue to serve this initial goal with a broad programme of solo and group exhibitions that promote equal collaborations between artists and a creative dialogue between the local and international artistic scene.
Within the framework of this policy, we are organizing a solo exhibition of Kostis Velonis, one of the most significant Greek artists of the younger generation. With humanities and cultural studies in London and fine arts studies in Paris, Velonis is one of the artists who, coming from peripheral countries, remain in their native place, creating within the framework of international pursuits and attracting the interest and the recognition of an audience that transcends local borders.
Velonis’ sculpture, in the broad sense, and particularly the series shown in the present exhibition, is usually described as political. But, more than a return to political art, we discern the question about how art today can be political. The artist’s visit to and appropriation of heroic periods of the modern movement, such as the Russian one of the early 20th century, where the artistic and political avant-garde meet and intersect, do not promise a safe reunion. Through the rich intertextuality of his works, and especially through the aesthetic and conceptual transformations of the historical material in the translation process, we observe a hovering between nostalgia and transcendence of the collective vision. The rift between the collective and the individual that is revealed by the works in the exhibition may be a melancholic and at the same time open answer to the initial question, in an era of scepticism and lack of certainties, in the realm both of politics and aesthetics.
Curated by Daphne Vitali