lleana Tounta Art Center Artio Gallery
Two solo exhibitions have presented the works of Mark Hadjipateras in Athens galleries. The first one took place at the lleana Tounta Art Center and the second a month later, at the Artio Gallery.
Hadjipateras, a Greek artist born in London and living in New York, started his career as a painter and continued with the creation of small-scale sculptures ln the beginning of the decade. These sculptures were hydrocal molded forms made from everyday objects that would have remained unnoticed if they had not captured Hadjipateras’s attention. Hadjipateras also photographed these white forms and exhibited sepia-toned prints of the works.
The show “Photo-sculpture” exhibited his latest work in sculpture/photography but without the familiar sepia-tone of his previous photos. Some of these works depict objects resembling children’s blocks, homogenized by a layer of white paint. The skillful control of studio light accentuated the objects’ profiles as they stood alone or in connection with the others, creating dramatic architectural tableaux. The viewer wonders whether this is an ideal polis from the Periclean Golden Age, or a contemporary, anarchic metropolis? An ancient Greek temple or a space station somewhere in the universe? The work communicates simplicity as well as ambiguity in the linkage of the small and insignificant with the great and powerful.
The more recent exhibitions, “Lost and Found” showcased Hadjipateras’s talent as a bricoleur. Small ready-made objects were meticulously assembled, disassembled, and rearranged in order to create new structures. This new series lets the sculptures stand on their own, without the distancing of photography. Inspired by Surrealism, Hadjipateras playfully gives a different significance to items that have terminated their cycle of life in the bulk trash cans, dumps, or odds and ends stores of New York City. His work titled Femme Ray is reminiscent of Man Ray’s Obiect to be Destroyed and Boule de neige. A white bottle is labeled with a blue-toned photograph of an eye and pins replace the eyelashes, while broken heels form its bottom part. The bottle is topped by a wooden chair leg and rests on a small scale three-legged (probably milking) stool.
Manhattanfull and Hand maid suggest a reversal of Robert Gober’s dismembered, wall-attached legs. In the first work, a female mannequin’s hand projects from a wall, displaying two miniature metal replicas, one of the Empire State Building and the other of the Chrysler Building. Both models seem to be trapped by wind-blown dried branches, and the ironic symbiosis of manmade and natural materials evokes a reference to the continuous struggle between nature and humanity. ln Hand maid, another feminine hand emerges from a large white coral attached to a rusted metal box; its waving gesture suggests a more peaceful coexistence between human and nature.
Hadjipateras also exhibited a site-specific installation in Greenport, Long Island, in 1998, a series of panels along a dock. Each panel featured a semitransparent. cartoon-like image of steamboats and engines.
Hadjipateras’s endeavor to eradicate the distinction between the real and hallucinatory is obvious and brings to mind Dawn Ades’s description of the Surrealist object as “the dialectical reconciliation of two terms (one real and one imagined) so violently contradictory for man, perception and representation.”
Even though Hadjipateras’s aesthetic impact is depicted in the Minimalist reformation of his sculpture’s objecthood, his realism starts in an ambiguity between time and space. The artist refers to it as the search for something more profound, a “moment of the soul”: meaning the moment that occurs during the connection of people with rooted bonds and their creations.