Critics’ Picks

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

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Lemos intimates a future where human creativity has been superseded by technological reproduction.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.