Curated by Katerina Nikou
My work focuses on abstract painting and on its function as an image. Yet the image seems to have its own history and past, to know all and have its own story to tell; it seems to have a life of its own and, through that, to become animated and gain its own agency. This sense of emancipation of the image becomes somehow ‘threatening’ as the more autonomy it gains the more it dislocates me from the dominant position of the maker of it, prompting, in this way, questions on matters of authenticity and the artistic agency. In this way, the figure of the abstract painter and the act of painting become both deconstructed and challenged.
The making of the painted image takes the form of a confrontation with it, one which rather takes the character of a confrontation with its whole past and history where nothing is any longer a given.
What occurs is the necessity of a reconfigured relationship with the painted image, and -yet again- the question of which the act of painting can be. A necessity to redefine gesture and the gestural mark in painting, besides the way these have been manifested in certain modernist tropes (and perhaps truisms as well) and in relation with more nuanced forms of representation which fall between the ready-made / monochrome and found object. A form of a gestural or ‘authentic’ mark in terms of expanded painting and of an expanded form of the agency of the artist.
Giorgos Kontis comments upon the form of an artwork in place to incorporate a poetic function and a sense of an ellipsis. A process that allows things to be said or left unsaid and to function in a lateral manner. The form itself and the visual language unfold and take over in a play with the medium and its activation by the artist. Painting comes as an elliptical gesture, as an endeavour for such a language to be found; a search for a desired Mother Tongue which would feel innate and intimate; one in place to accommodate silence.
The artist uses silk as his basic medium and creates a kind of mirroring with an emphasis on the sensuousness of the material. With elegant and subtle gestures he paints on the silk and intentionally leaves parts of the work transparent such that one can see the wooden support elements of the backside. This practice gives space to the work and a sense of a three dimensional condition. The composition is present. All the elements are obvious to the viewer revealing the process followed by the artist.
Giorgos Kontis invites us to re-consider the importance of the gaze, which is fundamental to his work. Here, the work has a literal presence. The simplicity of the form is a central principle while the viewer is left alone to experience the monochromatic two-dimensional works. Social commentary, various references and associations, issues of representation and the process per se, all express the artist’s intentions.
His new works relate to notions of identity and belonging: one’s innate desire to belong to something greater and to identify themselves as such. A sense of acceptance and of being included which, inevitably, entails exclusion, and besides beneficial can be also precarious.
The manner in which symbols function in this process is an area of great interest for Kontis; national and religious symbols, flags and banners; processional objects radiating authority and power, promising belonging and identity yet becoming menacing as well. The sculptures, reminiscent of authority symbols without yet representing something specific, are constituted by various materials such as found objects, parts of antique furniture, wood, glass, marble and steel. They share a common territory, with no barriers, between the visitor and the gallery space, encouraging us to interact with them -perhaps hold and brandish them- and, eventually, contemplate our relation to and place among them.