The exhibition "Mythologies of the Book" is a first attempt to examine the many-sided relations Greek artists developed with books and the concepts of speech and writing at different times from the early twentieth century to this day. Our aim was to bring together and showcase some of the outstanding and most worthy examples of this intrinsic tendency to explore the huge area of interaction between language, writing and image. The works shown in this exhibition constitute parts of various independent bodies of artistic research; in these, the appearance of speech or writing –incorporated in books or in other reading and communication media, such as video or sound– reflects a consistent method of approaching the significance of the visual language or represents some major landmark in the evolution of the artist’s lingual identity.
At a first ‘reading’, this collection can reveal the particular traits in each oeuvre, which point to the different perceptions of language and the different aesthetic and theoretical foundations for articulating a new visual language which, in each case, touches upon a different aspect of the core of each era’s contemporary ideologies. The artwork as a text and book incorporating speech and writing points clearly to the dual nature of art, as physical and tangible space but also as a predominantly intellectual and spiritual space.
At the same time, the issue of books and the way they were dealt with throughout the later period of Greek art provides new information on the many paths followed by Greek artists in their quest for the aesthetic and theoretical points of reference each of them chose to adopt.
The illustrated books section, curated by art historian Irene Orati, focuses on rare editions executed by eminent artists of the first half of the century and constitutes an introduction to this exhibition. This selective review of some of the most outstanding examples of the arts of engraving and printing by Greek practitioners attests to the remarkable proficiency in using these traditional skills as a form of training which set the solid foundations for subsequent experiments with the various artistic techniques.
The perception of visual arts as a language for representing thought informs a wide range of Greek art, especially from the early-1960s onwards. In quest of the deeper roots of their complex cultural character as well as the interfaces with the rest of the world, Greek artists fertilized their visual idioms through the old tradition of traveling and emigration. Steadily in tune with the restless wandering of 20th-century humanity and the contemporary quests, they continued to mould their own myths in new, different places. This show promotes as their genuine identity their ability to carry on the writing of an epic without an end. Besides, how could a myth fit into a single book, a closed work of art? This question springs out of the images produced by Greek artists through their work, while also stating their awareness of the great question which occupied modern art and still concerns, in fact, a major part of contemporary artistic production.
In the world culture of visual communication the old rivalry between word and image is turning into an alliance which triggers the constant transmutation of communication codes in contemporary art. And those of the Greek artists who continued the renewal of their field of vision and still do, urged on by the constant intellectual shifts and the critical view of contemporary world, found themselves increasingly closer to their sources of origin, to the odysseys each of them wanted to experience and narrate in a renewed visual language.
and Writing in Space
If during the first
half of the twentieth century the book goes into artistic production, executed
according to more classical trends of expression, the next phase of artistic
interest in books, from the 1960s onwards, goes into an entirely different
plane. The broader issue of the crisis in communication codes in the 20th
century, the resultant transformations of the visual field and the experimentation
with combinations of new vocabularies and multiple writing media produce
some interesting responses among Greek artists and an enrichment of the
tools of expression through the use of new materials.
Mythologies of the Book.
Contemporary Greek Artists
Origin and Evolution.
Greek Illustrated Books 1900-1950
Speech and Writing