15/05/2009 > 18/07/2009
Opening on 15/05/2009, from 7 pm to 9 pm
Placed under the sign of curse called down on them by an Orthodox monk from Mount Athos following their previous show, The Curse of the Monk brings together the universes, seemingly very different and yet as complementary as their authors, of IRIS VAN DONGEN (born in 1975 in Tilburg, Holland, lives and works in Berlin) and DIONISIS KAVALLIERATOS (born in 1979 in Athens, lives and works in Berlin). On top of being a couple, the two artists, while continuing their own line of work, very different in their inspirations and forms, reveal cross influences and decompartmentalize the presentation of their works.
IRIS VAN DONGEN became reknown for her drawings of young women, mixing pencil, pastel, watercolour and charcoal and marrying technical virtuosity with contemporary sensitivity, as inner selfportraits of the artist. For her second show at the gallery, she presents eight new drawings and, a new practice for her, two ceramic sculptures. Some of the drawings perpetuate the dreamlike representations of her beginnings, here leaning towards Symbolism and mysticism. The other drawings, in which personal stories and feelings come to the surface, let appear a melancholic feeling in the middle of everyday life details. One sculpture (Victoria) takes after the character of one of the drawings, bearing an inordinately long nose, while the other (Bibelot) plays with its decorative aspect while reusing an element from DIONISIS KAVALLIERATOS' work.
The work of KAVALLIERATOS expresses a singular, unrestrained inner world, freely mixing popular– be it Greek or 'pop' – and high culture – be it mythology, history, policy, literature or religion. Showing here a set of drawings and ceramic sculptures, he lets out a vital force seemingly unaware of conventions and the concepts of good or bad taste. Proceeding by associations of ideas, visual collages and puns far from being innocent, multiplying references within and between his works, KAVALLIERATOS creates a world of his own that reflects ours, where 'it's about being on the side of the victim but at the same time holding the wip and torturing it. About the need for heroes and the need to kill them. About the endless circle of life and stupidity, the uncertainty of death, the greateness and vanity of immortality. About revenge and betrial. About extreme hedonisme and pleasure.'
Thus, of two recurring figures, one representing Dante ALIGHIERI and the other Pellelo di Cavla, an imaginary character bearing a cap made of fruits like a symbol of the nourishing earth, and alter ego of the artist, who replaces Virgile by the side of Dante – following how Dante represented himself in The Divine Comedy. The two characters often witness extraordinary scenes, and sometimes involuntary actors of them. Witnesses when they assist, hidden behind a bed, a demonstration of omnipotence of Napoleon in front of the Virgin Mary bearing her child and Satan (Hidden in Napoleon's Boudoir); or when they watch, from the inside of a cave that could be the nose of God, the tree of innocence, of which hang reverse side condemned persons necessarily unjustly executed, as if their Rise had already started (The Tree of Innocence From Inside the Cave of Guilt and Sniffed by God). Unwilling actors when they have to face, though innocent as well, a firing squad, fortunately not very skilful (Not Even a Curly Hair William Tell's Balls).
Sharp pun with The First Expedition in the Mao-Mao Island and Mao Mao #2, at the same time recalling the Kenyan Mau Mau rebel movement of the 1950s, still refered to in Greece as a popular expression to call someone 'wild', and depicting a tribe of clones of bicephalous Mao ZEDONG; on the shore of their island land ridiculously conquering Westerners, represented by Pirrot the Mighty #2, reversing the roles by putting a pirate on the shoulder of a parrot.
From an incongruous concert of heavy metal legendary band Black Sabbath, the artist's favourite, playing in the jungle (What a Great Band) to a tale on immortality which sees an aged Marilyn seize the scythe of Death to seek revenge, whereas Death itself becomes a starlet in Marilyn's iconic windy pose (A Small Incident Between Sweet Old Marilyn and the Grim Ripper), KAVALLIERATOS revisits without complex pop culture. In Starring: Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Virgin Mary as Medea, God as the Devil, the Devil as God, Sir Winston Churchill as Himself, he casts historical and biblical characters, on a scenario inspired by the Medea's murder of her child and of the Greek paschal tradition of the spit-roasted lamb, like a sacrifice to God sacrificed, here played by Jesus.
Finally, a large drawing, The Old Bordello on the Hill of Sold Souls #4 shows the artist's ideal mausoleum, or at least a dreamt place in the after life. A sort of mastaba, its facade is decorated with sculptures of faces, some of mythical or imaginary characters, some from the artist's personal pantheon – from the members of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath to his companion IRIS VAN DONGEN.