Between the lost sanctity of the geniuses who inhabit the museums as works of art -to quote Malraux- and the daily gesture dictated by life, our own vision for a potential dialogue with art does not encompass any Arcadias nor is it wasted in bitter roaming and vain impasses.
We love art, even if it depends on time and its laws; we respect the form, the physicality, the presence, the meaning –sublime or ephemeral- as written by the artist of our time, and prescribed by the Western man, as the sequel to the era of utopian modernity; a sequel riddled with guilt, prejudice and questions.
Here in our city, Rethymnon, a region of our regional country, Greece, vis-à-vis the international art centres, we conspired a few years ago to play a game within our borders whose objective and aspiration was time and its ability to inseminate and bring back to blossom the things that people feared had become obsolete: some of life’s pleasures which are not after a new personification of Gradiva, as our distant ancestor, Freud, would think, but seek instead the benefit of knowledge which restores freedom to our lives.
It is no accident that our fellow-travellers so far have been artists, young people and children -rather than adults who go along with their biological age.
The word ‘conspiracy’ I used above is the most accurate if one wishes to describe acts intended to create a niche for contemporary art in Greece today.
Our city’s collection dates back in October 1992, when the Municipality of Rethymnon inaugurated the “L.Kanakakis” Municipal Gallery. Back then there were 200 works of art and a clear goal as to the purpose of this Gallery in time and space.
It has relied on the name of the Rethymnian painter, whose work so successfully links this place with the rest of the world, it has also relied on private donations -as is the case with most collections, small or major.
Over the years the Municipal Gallery has tripled the number of works in its permanent collection through on-going donations, mainly by the artists themselves.
The collection relates to art, as it has emerged through the quests of Greek artists from the 1950’s onwards, with particular emphasis on the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. There are omissions, not always intentional, replenished, so to speak, by works borrowed from collectors and artists with whom we share the same goal and vision.
The visitor can thus see adequate examples of Art from the second half of our century; from abstraction and cubism to neo-expressionism, representational art, minimalism, the object in space, sculpture and sculpture-painting, assemblages, space installations and environments, conceptual art, photography, computer processed works.
One section is, of course, devoted to the work of L. Kanakakis whose austere, dramatic painterly forms, are capable of holding an exquisite dialogue between political art and everyday objects, while their metaphysical aspect keeps them fresh and vivid, 14 years after the painter’s death.
In the case of Rethymnon, the initiative of the Municipality to establish the “L.Kanakakis” Municipal Gallery, in 1992, and actively promote communication through art in order to establish contact between Greece and the international art community, is clearly owed to the local community’s resolution to incorporate contemporary art in its life as the sequel to a cultural tradition with a history of centuries.
We wish to thank all those who has helped us to remain true to our goals, in particular the artists and the people of art who have stood by our side during these few but decisive years.