Critics’ Picks

  • Manolis D. Lemos, Feelings (Columns), 2019, galvanized steel, marble, dimensions variable.

    Manolis D. Lemos

    CAN Christina Androulidaki gallery | Plateia Koumoundourou
    Korinis 4 & Epikourou 26 Plateia Koumoundourou
    June 14–July 27, 2019

    Made in collaboration with theoretical computer scientist and MIT professor Constantinos Daskalakis, Manolis D. Lemos’s digitally enhanced abstractions oscillate between various affective states, attempting to imprint emotion and gesture through an algorithm. For this show, titled “Feelings,” Lemos created approximately one thousand drawings that Daskalakis (the two are cousins) and his research team fed into a computer until its pattern-recognition technology (or deep neural network) acquired the ability to imitate and even surpass the hand of the artist. The resulting series of paintings—unfettered, disenthralled migrations of oil and wax across acrylic grounds—insinuate doubt as to where exactly the gesture of the artist ends and the intelligence of the machine begins.

    Constructed from galvanized steel grids, a pair of meandering sculptures, Feelings (Curve 1 & Curve 2) (all works cited, 2019), stand beside Feelings (Columns)—a cluster of silver-mesh pillars half-filled with shards of crushed pink marble. The broken rocks, also scattered around the sculpture, inevitably recall the street protests the artist witnessed over the past decade in Athens, where marble masonry was torn up and thrown at police. With its peculiar, minatory beauty, Lemos’s contemporary ruin serves as a warning, perhaps, of catastrophes to come and foreshadows, also, the incandescent menace of the single-channel video Feelings, installed downstairs. Here, the Attic landscape is transformed into a J. G. Ballard–like zone of shimmering roads, hot dust, and derelict buildings. Musician Bill Kouligas’s furious electronic remix of a song by Lemos’s band ORI accompanies stygian views of rushing dam water, an empty seascape, and the unceasing labor of a manufacturing robot constructing some nameless, indeterminate machine.

    Lemos intimates a future where human creativity has been superseded by technological reproduction. Of course, people have been worrying about artificial intelligence for far longer than this young artist—born in 1989—has been alive. But as each new generation becomes progressively accustomed to this increasingly automated and technocentric world, Lemos’s ambivalence should give us pause.

  • Artemis Potamianou, The Unknown Masterpiece Girl with a Pearl Earring, 2018, mixed media, 23 x 22 1/2".

    Artemis Potamianou

    55 Mesologgiou str
    February 8–July 20, 2019

    To enter “Your history, it’s not my story,” visitors pass through a towering black metal gate into a shadowy space, where Artemis Potamianou has arrayed elaborate birdcages. Inspired by those presented to Victorian brides on the eve of their weddings, and devised in the style of coveted bourgeois mansions, these structures house objects symbolic of the artist’s autobiography and a socially traditional female psyche (butterflies, figurines, Jane Eyre) in lieu of songbirds. The room bears a slight resemblance to Queen Anne’s chambers in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite (2018), where rabbits quartered in cages represent dead babies, women pimp themselves for tokens of power, and men in drag rule the country. The centerpiece of the whole installation, titled Which side are you on?, 2018, is a cabinet of curiosities displaying decapitated heads of classical statues exemplifying ideal beauty, which are enclosed in nets that nod to Man Ray’s bound Venuses. A motionless swing installed behind bars and bathed in the pink glow of a neon sign spelling the word “dream” suggests that protection is often another word for confinement.

    Elsewhere, for a suite called “The Unknown Masterpiece,” 2019, Potamianou has collaged fragments of facial features from portraits of powerful men over those of female sitters from recognizable old masters. Masculinity has disfigured them, like a skin graft gone bad. The stiltedness of the woman’s pose in Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel is stirred by a scream—more Francis Bacon than Francisco de Goya. Potamianou wallpapers this surreal art-historical theater with an elegant baroque pattern. Closer inspection reveals black silhouettes of iconic depictions of women by men, from Botticelli to Banksy. The male gaze has muted these figures, and the empty perches in the nearby birdcages become stages for songs too often unsung.