MARTINOS, Pindarou 24, Kolonaki
MARTINOS, Pindarou 24, Kolonaki
A visit to Martinos Antique and Fine Art Gallery will suffice for one to notice that botanical decoration is a theme very often found on objects of different origins and from different time periods. Plants engraved on glass vases, colored flowers on clay pots and plates, cypress trees carved on wooden chests, blossoms on porcelains, while the impressive embroideries of the Aegean are decorated with floral compositions made of threads colored with natural plant dyes. Taking inspiration from the antique shop’s rich collection of things, four contemporary artists have put together the group exhibition “Botanical Rhapsody” in which they present different approaches to the botanical motif as illustration, symbol, tradition, narrative.
Judith Allen documents an ancient footpath on the island of Kea, via detailed drawings of the ephemeral life cycle of the plants she encounters on her daily walks over the past 9 years. In this manner she honors the path through careful illustration of its flora. The body of work entitled “Mapping the Walk” consists of graphite and gouache drawings, as well as cyanotypes and lithographs of these botanical images as motifs mirrored or in repeat.
Eirene Efstathiou presents an ongoing archive documenting the decimation of Athenian palm trees by a bug, the red palm weevil. The works in the series “Red Weevil Blues” are made up of drawings, lithographs and etchings drawn from the archive which itself was compiled through the urban wanderings of the artist. The palm tree adorns various 19th c. civic buildings of Athens that are both symbols of power and historic sites of resistance. The works traverse the recent history of Athens via the palm tree, documenting various types holes, voids and deconstructions of the 20th and 21st centuries: holes made in the trees by the bug itself, burnt pavement from riots, archival footage from uprisings, bullet holes and graffiti from urban warfare. Flaneurs of the 19th c. often referred to themselves as “botanists of the sidewalk”. Adopting this approach, the artist extended her botanical observation to include things that were not necessarily plants or animals.
Myrto Xanthopoulou draws inspiration from various objects in the shop, such as spinning distaffs, textiles and other pieces by anonymous artists, and creates a series of works out of everyday materials, paper, tape, carbon paper, reeds. She identifies the botanical element in folk art as well as in language, which she employs both as motif and as content. Searching for meaning in these contemporary handicrafts, devoid of any practical use, what she finds is a deeply rooted relationship with pattern, repetition, hands, time and materiality.
Iris Plaitakis exhibits work with her signature patterns as focal point. Her small-scale automatic drawings in pen and ink on paper, incorporating –often floral- decorative paper offcuts spawn from other work in mixed media, constitute abstract biomorphic compositions. Embodying at once the animal and the vegetal, they signify the interrelationship of the two. In addition, the small-scale installations, her so-called “studio vignettes”, offer us glimpses into the physical and psychological space of her practice, which is a perpetual dialogue with her former self.
Judith Allen’s work is particularly informed by balancing a life on two different continents and her negotiating two cultures. She was born in Athens, Georgia, USA, and graduated with a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University. She came to Greece in 1974 and received Greek citizenship. Since 2000 she divides her time between Athens, Greece and Portland, Maine, USA, teaching the fall semester at Maine College of Art and then returning to Athens for 6 months. She exhibits her work in both the United States and Europe, and is a member of the artist collective AFI in Athens.
Eirene Efstathiou is a visual artist working in a variety of different media from painting and printmaking to performance to small scale installations, her practice investigates collective and archival memory, sentiment, affect and how these function in the public sphere. Efstathiou is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University, (Studio Art Diploma and BFA, 2003) where she studied painting and printmaking, and the Athens School of Fine Arts, (MFA 2010) where she is currently a PhD candidate. Efstathiou has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Europe and the United States. With solo shows at Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Athens, Greece and Irene Laub Gallery, Brussels, Belgium and group shows at DEPO, Istanbul, Turkey, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome, Italy, EMST Collection at documenta 14, Kassel, Germany, DESTE at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece, Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium, and Benaki Museum. In 2009 she was the recipient of the DESTE Prize, and in 2019 she was the recipient of the NEON grant for post-graduate study, Athens Greece. Efstathiou Lives and works in Athens.
Myrto Xanthopoulou was born in Helsinki in 1981. She lives and works in Athens. She studied Fine Arts at the Athens School of Fine Arts, and Art History at Deree College. Her work is characterized by the use of simple, everyday materials, handicraft and the use of language. In her installations, drawings and objects she attempts to articulate a poetic of the insignificant and the intimate, the silly and the unbearable. In 2020 she presented her fourth solo show in Athens entitled ΜΠΟΥΦΑΝ, while she has participated in many group shows in Greece and abroad, at galleries, museums and independent spaces.
Iris Plaitakis (b. 1975, New York) is a visual artist and museum educator based in Athens, Greece. She studied at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and received her M.Phil in Classical Archaeology from the University of Oxford, where she focused on the history of collecting. Her academic background informs an enduring engagement with material culture in her studio practice. In 2014-2015 she was an artist in residence and scholarship recipient at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY. She has participated in many exhibitions in Greece and abroad. Her first solo exhibition, Epitrapezio, was at Fotagogos Gallery, Athens in 2017. Her most recent (2019) group shows include Life is Elsewhere, We Need Books, Athens and Kypselian Salon, Snehta, Athens. A long-time educator in museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Acropolis Museum and the Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, Iris currently teaches art history and also serves as Assistant Director of ARCAthens, an international artist residency program.