Antonia Papatzanaki
Robust matter and image

On Saturday, June 26, the Contemporary Art Museum of Crete inaugurated the exhibition entitled: “Robust matter and image” of works by the sculptress Antonia Papatzanaki, in the halls of periodic exhibitions at the “L. Kanakakis” Gallery. The exhibition will be open until August 30, 2010. The curator of the exhibition was Konstantinos Proimos.

The exhibition presented a series of lighted relief wall-mounted works, representing the work of the artist over the last ten years, an installation of new etchings from Plexiglas as well as a series of photographic prints. The exhibition culminated in a monumental work which the artist created especially for the CCA.

The works of Antonia Papatzanaki emit light which is shaped as it passes through firm, transparent materials. The interpretation of the work varies according to the relationship between the natural light of the surroundings and the artificial light of the work as well as the spectator’s position in the room.

Papatzanaki, based on her well-known minimalistic form, creates three-dimensional works where she crafts the issue of light connecting them at the same time with sculpture and architecture. 

Konstantinos Proimos wrote about the exhibition “Robust matter and image”:
“Light has always been the centre of interest of Antonia Papatzanaki, since the beginning of her career. In art history, light occupies a prominent position in the works on the one hand  both of Caravaggio and  Rembrandt as a factor which represents the sacred and urges contemplation, and on the other hand of the impressionists as a means of investigating everyday reality. It is essentially though in minimalism that light acquires a central and literal role in the works of art, as part of the new, concrete objectivity proclaimed by the minimalists, completing as well as eliminating at the same time the “formalistic autonomy of art”. Light in minimalism, especially in the work of Dan Flavin, acquires an operational role in the denial of representation in exchange for a significant share in the current reality and in agreement with the way Hal Foster saw the historic mission of the new avant-garde to complete as well as to destroy the modern pre-war utopias.
Papatzanaki adopts the minimalistic use of light in her own way. Her untitled rectangular constructions which for the most part hang on the wall or in some cases stand   on the floor are made of stainless steel or bronze. In both cases, the material surface of the constructions has a glossy finish which effaces any trace of manual work in order to highlight a cold and indifferent materiality of visual order which is typical of the particular minimalistic objects. In the middle of her constructions, she inserts Plexiglas sheets which she glues one next to the other and cuts with curved, harmonious and interrelated margins. The Plexiglas sheets occupy a central position in the compositions of Papatzanaki: as the rectangular constructions hang on the wall, the Plexiglas sheets are protruding towards the spectator   to such a degree that they give a third dimension to the work that resembles sculpture. At the same time, the position of the Plexiglas establishes a relationship between the foreground and the second plane or form and level which characterizes two-dimensional images. The artist hides behind the Plexiglas sheets fluorescent lamps making the sheets emit a soft light which surrounds the spectator, especially if she or he stands close to the work”.
Antonia Papatzanaki was born in Chania, Crete and lives and works in New York and Athens. She studied sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts, at the Hochschule fur Angewandte Kunst in Vienna and got a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute in New York. She has won prizes  from institutions in Greece (National Scholarships Foundation, Greek Culture Foundation) and other countries (FVS zu Hamburg, Gerondelis Foundation, Katonah Museum of Art) and has won prizes in competitions  for the creation of sculptures in public areas (Agora, Battery Park City of New York, 2000-2001). Several of her public works are permanently installed in various cities of Greece such as her illuminated work Lighthouse which is situated at the square above the train station Kato Patissia in Athens. Papatzanaki has exhibited her work in thirteen one-woman  exhibitions, (Light in the square, Titanium-Yiyiannos Gallery, Athens 2005, Visions of Light, 112 Gallery, Chashama, New York 2007) while she has participated in many group exhibitions in Greece, Europe and the U.S.A. (Artistic Fragments, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York 2005, New: Illusion or Reality, 4η Biennale, Tashkent, 2007). Works by the artist are found in the Vorres Museum in Athens, the Contemporary Art Museum of Crete, and the American College of Greece and in numerous private collections. Critiques analysing the work of Antonia Papatzanaki have been published in six catalogues of one-woman exhibitions as well as in many catalogues of group ones and in two art books. Over a hundred articles have been written about the work of Papatzanaki in newspapers and magazines in Athens and New York. 

A bilingual catalogue accompanied the exhibition. In the context of the exhibition, guided tours were conducted, as always, for children and adults.

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