Sunday, 4 February 2018
Puppet Sun, 2017
Marble, wood, acrylic, iron base
75 x 24 x 20 cm
NEON presents Kostis Velonis’s A Puppet Sun, at a historical neoclassical residence at Kaplanon 11, Athens for CITY PROJECT 2017. The exhibition is curated by Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, Assistant Curator, Collections International Art, Tate Modern. Velonis has conceived A Puppet Sun, his largest solo exhibition in Greece to date, especially for the site of Kaplanon 11, responding to its history, architecture and position in the heart of the city.
CITY PROJECT is an initiative for public art and the city, conceived and commissioned annually by NEON to a Greek artist. NEON aims to activate public and historical places through contemporary art, contributing to the interaction of art, society and the city. Now in its fourth year of CITY PROJECT, NEON has previously presented Aemilia Papaphilippou, Maria Loizidou and Zafos Xagoraris in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The neoclassical residence of Kaplanon, constructed in 1891 is the last remaining buildings of its kind in Athens. It was first occupied by Pavlos Kountouriotis, an admiral who later became the first President of the Second Hellenic Republic. At the start of the twentieth century, the residence was acquired by the Zouzoula family, when the ground floor became the political office of Apostolos Zouzoulas. In a period of historical significance between the 1910s and the 1920s it served as the headquarters of the People’s Party ‘Laikon Komma’. During the same time, Eleni Zouzoula-Kanellopoulos, the first female author of children’s books in Greece, established a literary salon in the residence. This became a central meeting point for literary figures, poets, painters and intellectuals that defined with their work the culture of the time in Athens. During the Metaxa regime, before the Second World War, it was transformed into a residence for female students ‘O Oikos tis Foititrias’. Later, during the Nazi Occupation, the residence was sold by its owners only to be partially bought back in the post-war years, remaining however constantly a student residence until the early 1990s.
An important part of Greece’s modern history is connected to the residence. In this extraordinary space, Kostis Velonis’ work addresses the site’s lived experience and memory, investigating the powerful historical, political, cultural intersections but also personal narratives that are present. A Puppet Sun reflects Velonis’ desire to bring the multiple narratives of the residence back into existence. His choices of material are not only meant to represent history, politics, or social developments but simply for what they are as they become an opportunity to experiment with forms and examine the conceptual potentials of art.
In this unique context, Velonis’ work weaves through parallel stories with 25 new works and creates new relations between site and artwork, but also time, space and memory.