Critics’ Picks

View of “The Magic Circle,” 2012.

Athens

“The Magic Circle”

Loraini Alimantiri Gazonrouge
8 Kykladon
March 10–June 2, 2012

Entering this exhibition is like walking into somebody’s house, a feeling that is expertly cultivated in Loraini Alimantiri and Christoforos Marinos’s curatorial ode to Greek modernism. Made by fifty Greek artists (as well as three philhellenes), 120 works spanning the entire twentieth century and beyond inhabit—along with objects, furniture, books, plants, and posters—a small, modernist house and studio that acts as a historical and conceptual frame. Designed by an associate of Le Corbusier, Aristomenis Provelenghios, this house has served as a home and work space for various trailblazers, beginning in 1957 when it was constructed as a studio for sculptor Jeanne Spiteris-Veropoulou. For those associated with the building whose works are also on view in the exhibition, like ex-tenant Diohandi, “The Magic Circle” is both a homecoming and a time warp. Some of the names of these former residents are documented in a book (on the living room bookshelf) from which this exhibition takes its title. The volume contains reviews by Alekos Drakos of most of the solo and group shows featuring Greek artists that took place in Athens from 1961 to 1964.

Through this community of objects, the historical and the contemporary meet in a celebratory gathering of sorts, evident in the upstairs salon, where ceramicist Ira Triantafyllides’s two malformed animal sculptures from 1960–70 come alive juxtaposed against Tula Plumi’s 2010 ceramic, almost feline form. Nearby, Kostas Roussakis’s 2012 wooden coffee table meets Nikos Tranos’s 1997 cardboard sofa to create a space in which the many stories surrounding this enchanting show might be shared—like when, four days before the opening, octogenarian artist Michalis Katzourakis, so taken by the curatorial concept, hand-delivered a frying pan containing a glass-shard-and-resin omelette for the kitchen, to supplement his works already installed in the office and bathroom. It’s stories like these that make this exhibition feel somehow familiar, like a home worth spending time in.