29 September - 20 November, 2022
Rena Papaspyrou / The passage of the Comet: Episodes and images behind the matter
Rena Papaspyrou’s exhibition, presented by the Municipality of Athens at the City of Athens Art Gallery from September 29 to November 20, 2022, brings together works not so well known to the public or not been exhibited for a long time. The exhibition includes a constellation of works from various sections and periods under “The Passage of the Comet” (2000), showcased for the first time in Athens. Papaspyrou’s early experiments with mosaics, tiles and bricks are also presented in this context.
The exhibition “The Passage of the Comet: episodes and images behind the matter“, organized by the City of Athens Culture, Sports and Youth Organization, allows us to reconsider the role of images in Papaspyrou’s work. Images in her work are not finite or measurable. On the contrary, they are without boundaries or a centre. They are spectral. In her work, there is no frame of any kind. Instead, the eroded contours of her images enter – invade – our world. They are fragile, perishable, eccentric images; fictional, metaphorical and contemplative ones that contain within them their past and future; images temporally changeable and fluid. Papaspyrou’s paintings highlight the grandeur of detail and test the possibilities of the gaze: they exist within the matter but also behind it, as is the case of her latest work, “Vryaxidos 11 &Aspasias“.
Papaspyrou studies the unconsciousness of images and their indicative immediacy or dimension. For her, something insignificant, a crack in a surface, is an image. In her “Geographies”, for example, when she traces with the fine tip of a pencil the “random forms” found on walled surfaces, she transforms existing cracks into lands, countries, imaginary borders, seas and rivers. Papaspyrou’s visual apparatus has unlimited iconographic possibilities. The artist’s gaze is focused or not quite quickly. She recognizes “finds”, microcosms and macrocosms, imaginary spaces, faces and figures, temples, flames, animals and stars in the matter. Rena Papaspyrou’s work poses and answers the question, “what is and what constructs an image?” It is time, experience, memory, matter, the gaze, the gesture, the mediated body and, of course, the mind which generates associations.
Rena Papaspyrou’s art, seen as a whole through the architecture of the matter she used, forms a House. Bricks, tiles, walls, mosaic slabs and scales compose the design of a particular dwelling. This House was “built” gradually over sixty years. Looking at Papaspyrou’s work as a whole, one realizes that in the end, one deals with a long-term project, a life plan. One also understands the completeness of this plan (which explains why her work is complete), its humanistic dimension and the intimacy it exudes. Finally, with this House seen as a completed work, one realizes the complex relationship between space and time in Papaspyrou’s work and how these two concepts operate, intertwine and interact.
Rena Papaspyrou was born in Athens in 1938. She studied painting and mosaic at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1956-63) and the ÉcoleNationaleSupérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1964-66). A representative of conceptual painting, Papaspyrou has exhaustively explored the possibilities of the matter and drawing. She uses random and ready-made materials (wood, sheet metal, asphalt, mosaic tiles) exclusively from urban spaces – the “urban landscape”, as she called it in 1980 – and deconstructs them to mark the various “episodes” that a surface bears, and the associative images – “images behind the matter” – revealed when seen. In addition, Papaspyrouhas taught at the Athens School of Fine Arts since 1978. She was director of Painting Workshop C (1993-2005) and was the first woman professor at the ASFA to direct a workshop. Since 2006 she has been Professor Emeritus at the ASFA. She lives and works in Athens.
The exhibition is curated by ChristoforosMarinos, art historian and curator of exhibitions and activities of OPANDA.