From Ai Weiwei to Marina Abramovic and Michael Landy, Athens’ well-documented cultural heat has enticed some of the world’s most feted and intriguing artists to exhibit solo in the Greek capital in recent years. Here are three more heavy hitting international names causing a buzz with their must-see art shows this month:
Portraits: Terry Tsiolis
Margot Robbie, Rihanna and Jude Law are just some of the famous mugs that New York-based photographer Terry Tsiolis has helped immortalise during his glittering global career. Born and raised in Montreal by Greek immigrant parents, Tsiolis’ high-production portraits have graced Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vanity Fair, in the vein of his childhood heroes - Richard Avedon and Cecil Beaton.
In his first major museum presentation, at the Benaki Museum, Tsiolis steps away from “idealised notions of beauty” to transport you to the more compelling everyday with a showcase of intimate portraits of ordinary folk, snapped between 2013 and 2021. Composed of still photographs and short videos, Terry Tsiolis: Portraits focuses on non-famous civilians of varying age, gender, body type, religion, and race from around the globe. Total inclusivity was the main game for Tsiolis. To find his subjects, he sent an open call across his social media platforms; inviting volunteers to present their “true” selves: sexy, absurd, ironic, humorous and shy. Head along to the Benaki’s Pireos Annex until December 5 to see the results.
Minamata: Andrew Levitas
American artist Andrew Levitas is staging a four part multi-media foray into humanity’s alliance with nature at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Pangrati until 28 November.
The entire project is inspired by the lauded American photojournalist W. Eugene Smith – and the centre-piece is Levitas’ biopic starring Johnny Depp as Smith with Bill Nighy as former LIFE magazine editor Robert Hayes. To many, Smith is the father of the photo essay; thanks to his 1970s work to spotlight the devastating effects of industrial pollution caused by the Chisso Corporation in the Japanese town Minamata. Smith’s 1975 photo essay, (Minamata – A Warning to the World), was pivotal in uncovering the environmental atrocities suffered by the local population (such as mercury poisoning and disfigurements) and subsequently bringing justice to the victims. Like Smith, Levitas frets about humanity’s relationship with the environment and feels driven to fight against injustice, through his art.
Bodies Imprinted in the Air: Giuseppe Penone
Most of us look at a tree and see a tree. When Italian Art Povera protagonist Giuseppe Penone looks at the natural world around him, he sees canvas, clay and the makings of art.
Known for his powerful large-scale representations of nature, Penone’s early performance-based works were inspired by the forests near his native village of Garessio, in Piedmont, where he interacted with trees, water, and marble. Over a fifty-year international career, he went on to use all sorts of unconventional materials and forms (the calling card of Art Povera) to create an expansive body of work that encompasses sculpture, performance, and photography. Until November 13, you can check out a roving exhibition of Giuseppe Penone’s works - Impronte di corpi nell’aria / Bodies Imprinted in the Air - at the Athenian outpost of the prestigious Gagosian Gallery in Kolonaki.