Athens

Jannis Varelas, Mother of Fools, 2019, mixed media on canvas, 98 3⁄8 × 82 5⁄8".

Jannis Varelas, Mother of Fools, 2019, mixed media on canvas, 98 3⁄8 × 82 5⁄8".

Jannis Varelas

Benaki Museum

The anima, according to Carl Jung, is the manifestation of the female archetype in the male. This gender-bending concept lent an apt title to Jannis Varelas’s solo show “Anima I,” with its zeitgeist-laden examination of personal identity, gender, and sexuality. In ancient Greece, such themes carried different resonances—we think of the sexual superfluity of Pan, the universal acceptance of homosexuality, or the beneficial wisdom of the transgender soothsayer Tiresias. Varelas initiated us into a similar realm, one of prodigious imagination and joyful curiosity in psychohistory.

A series of hypnotic, Felliniesque black-and-white videos, shown on monitors stacked within a metallic grid, introduced the subjects of the show. The characters pose in the artist’s studio: A bearded Prospero with a big belly changes into Lycra tights and cape; a sultry Aphrodite lies topless on a fake Mediterranean

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