Exploring the Contemporary Art Scene of Athens

Museums, galleries, private collections and emerging artists are putting their mark on cultural output.


MUSEUMS AND FOUNDATIONS

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (EMST)

EMST is hosting the exhibition Urgent Conversations: Athens-Antwerp, open until January 31, 2017. Co-produced with the Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp, the exhibition features 70 works from the permanent collections of both museums. It will be followed by Documenta, which officially starts on April 8, 2017. This major contemporary art exhibition, which is thought to be as important as the Venice Biennale, is held every five years in the city of Kassel, Germany and lasts for 100 days. In 2017, its 14th edition, entitled “Documenta14: Learning from Athens,” will be held in both cities • www.emst.grwww.documenta14.de

ΝΕΟΝ

A non-profit organization founded in 2013 by collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos, NEON aims to bring contemporary culture closer to the public by organizing exhibitions and events in surprise locations around the city. “I am positive that a society better informed about contemporary art and culture can unleash a wealth of human potential and regenerate a cosmopolitan spirit,’’ says NEON’s director, Elina Kountouri. Their current exhibition, entitled “Flying over the Abyss”, runs through January 31, 2017, in the basement of the Athens Conservatoire. The exhibition space’s makeover was funded by NEON. • neon.org.gr

DESTE FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ART

Established by collector Dakis Joannou, DESTE is a nonprofit institution that organizes contemporary art events in collaboration with a number of internationally acclaimed curators and leading artists. Central to the foundation’s policy of supporting and promoting contemporary art is the DESTE Prize, established in 1999 and awarded every two years to a Greek artist under 40, whose work is actively contributing to new issues in the artistic discourse. A group exhibition of past winners is scheduled for Spring 2017, at the Museum of Cycladic Art. • deste.grwww.cycladic.gr

THE GEORGE ECONOMOU COLLECTION

Ship owner George Economou has put together a priceless collection of contemporary art that focuses on German impressionism. Parts of this collection are presented in thematic exhibitions in an impressive purpose-built building in Maroussi. It is the perfect place for art lovers to enjoy exceptional works by artists such as Otto Dix and Yayoi Kusama. Currently on show is the exhibition “New Beginnings: Between Gesture and Geometry”, bringing together 19 artists who emerged in the post-war era (until April, 2017). • www.thegeorgeeconomoucollection.com

THE BENAKI MUSEUM

One of the most important cultural institutions of the country consistently presents splendid collections that cover multiple artistic domains. The central building – a jewel of neoclassical architecture – is located in Kolonaki while the impressive, modern annex designed by architects Maria Kokkinou and Andreas Kourkoulas is at 138 Pireos Street; there are also other Benaki annexes scattered all over the city. You can find information on current exhibitions on its website.

GALLERIES

Βernier-Eliades

Its first exhibition in 1977, which featured works from Jannis Kounellis, set the tone for the future of the gallery. Today, it is situated in a renovated neoclassical building on a beautiful pedestrian street in Thiseio and mainly shows the work of successful artists with international appeal. Ever since it first opened, its owners Jean Bernier and Marina Eliades have made a point of inviting the artists to the opening night of their exhibitions so that they can get to know the city and its people. • www.bernier-eliades.gr

Eleni Koroneou Gallery

This gallery has been around for 27 years and is now located in a neoclassical former residence in Thiseio. It has made an important contribution to the Athenian art scene, hosting exhibitions from many foreign artists such as Christopher Wool, George Condo and Paul McCarthy, often before they became particularly well- known. It also supports young Greek artists. • www.koroneougallery.com

CΑΝ

This small white cube gallery in Kolonaki, opened in May 2012. Its art historian owner, 35-year-old Christina Androulidaki, invests in the new generation of Greek artists. “I believe they are the future and I like collaborating with people my own age,” she says. “I choose artists that have something new to say, in terms of both ideas and form.” • www.can-gallery.com

Kalfayan

The Athenian branch of this Thessaloniki gallery promotes art from the Balkans and the Middle East. Two of its featured Greek artists have participated in the Venice Biennale – Stefanos Tsivopoulos represented Greece in 2013 and Diohandi in 2011. The gallery belongs to brothers Arsen and Roupen Kalfayan, who grew up in a middle-class Armenian family in Thessaloniki. Their space on Haritos Street in Kolonaki was designed by award-winning architects Andreas Kourkoulas and Maria Kokkinou. • www.kalfayangalleries.com

Gagosian

One of the most powerful galleries in the world, Gagosian opened a branch in Athens in 2009, as part of its 16-strong global network. It features the work of esteemed foreign artists from the extensive Gagosian roster. The first exhibition in Athens featured work by American artist Cy Twombly. • www.gagosian.com

The Ileana Tounta, Contemporary Art Center

Housed in a beautiful two-story building of industrial design that started out as a cultural center but now focuses on group exhibitions, the “Tounta Gallery” has been collaborating with Greek artists and curators for many years. At the entrance, you will find a shop that sells autographed books and catalogs, while at the rear of the ground floor, there is a modern restaurant with a garden. • www.art-tounta.gr

a.antonopoulou.art

Angeliki Antonopoulou opened her gallery in 2001 in Psyrri, an area once labeled the Soho of Athens. The artists she represents have collaborated with acclaimed museums and institutions, including Guggenheim Bilbao and MoCA Shanghai, or participated in various international exhibitions such as Venice Biennale and Documenta. • www.aaart.gr

AD Gallery

AD Gallery is one of the oldies. Established in 1986, it is located in a little neoclassical building, on top of a houseware shop. Its focus is on contemporary works that address and raise awareness on social and political issues. • www.adgallery.gr

Rebecca Camhi Gallery

Back in the 1990s, this gallery ruled the scene. Now more low-key, it is located in a neoclassical building in the downtown area of Metaxourgeio. The gallery has collaborated with leading international artists that include Nan Goldin, Nobuyoshi Araki, Julian Opie and  Rita Ackermann, and has represented well-known Greek artists such as Takis, Konstantin Kakanias, DeAnna Maganias and Mantalina Psoma. • www.rebeccacamhi.com

NON PROFIT SPACES

Atopos

The word “atopos” comes from Ancient Greek and refers to the strange, the exceptional and the unclassifiable. Founded in 2003 by architect Stamos Fafalios and anthropologist Vassilis Zidianakis, this platform for the arts is mostly focused on the expression and adornment of the human body. In 2014, they inaugurated their Occupy Atopos residency program, which aims to observe and support the creative process of contemporary artists. Recently, they announced their collaboration with Documenta14. • www.atopos.gr

Circuits and Currents

This is the project space of the Athens School of Fine Arts, and the students themselves are responsible for its program. It hosts exhibitions, talks and workshops, while also bringing together artists, theoreticians and people from other creative fields. • circuitsandcurrents.info

Radio Athenes

It’s a book project, a showroom, an exhibition space and a curatorial practice. Flexible, independent, nomadic and interdisciplinary, Radio Athènes works together with local and international artists and institutions in order to present exhibitions, lectures, screenings and readings in the fields of contemporary art, literature, philosophy, dance and the applied arts. It is currently hosting an exhibition by New York-based artist Rey Akdogan that features wall sculptures made out of everyday plastic materials collected from stores and supermarkets around Greece (through December 10). • www.radioathenes.org

STATE OF CONCEPT

Founded in 2013 by art critic and curator Iliana Fokianaki and based in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Koukaki, near the Acropolis and the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), this independent gallery not only introduces non-mainstream international artists to the Greek audience but also showcases the work of selected Greek artists. In addition, it organizes a variety of events, including talks, screenings and workshops for children. • www.stateofconcept.org

3 137

A self-funded, self-managed project space focused on documentary and archival art and run by three young artists, Paki Vlassopoulou, Chrysanthi Koumianaki and Kosmas Nikolaou, 3 137 gives established galleries a run for their money. Their openings, where even the food that is served is homemade, have become the talk of the Athenian art crowd. • www.3137.gr

SNEHTA RESIDENCY

Run by Greek artist Augustus Veinoglou, and deriving its name from Athens spelled backwards, this is one of the city’s most active residency programs. Residents are selected through an open call for artists, designers, architects, curators and art historians; successful candidates spend two months researching in the city. Two annual exhibitions showcase the residents’ work. • www.snehtaresidency.org

‘ΥΛΗ[matter]HYLE

Housed in an apartment overlooking Omonia Square, this “semi-public, semi-private” space aims to bring together art, politics and sciences. It is an initiative by performing artist Georgia Sagri and others. • www.hyle.gr

ENTERPRISE PROJECTS

It’s all about exploration of artistic forms, experimentation and conversation between artists, disciplines and their audience in this newly-established project space. It was created by 24-year-old School of Fine Arts graduate Danai Giannoglou and artist Vassilis Papageorgiou, in the latter’s basement studio in the neighborhood of Ambelokipi. • www.enterprise-projects.com


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