Vassilis Skylakos: The Hand. Artworks produced between 1957 and 1997

The City of Athens presents Vassilis Skylakos’ first retrospective art exhibition (1930-2000) at the City of Athens Art Gallery from March 10 to April 23, 2023. The exhibition “Vassilis Skylakos: The Hand. Artworks produced between 1957 and 1997 “is organized by the City of Athens Culture, Sports and Youth Organisation  (OPANDA) and includes works covering four decades, from 1957 to 1997.

The title of Vassilis Skylakos’ retrospective exhibition indicates, on the one hand, the intensely manual character of his work. On the other, it refers to his homonymous antique shop and his solo exhibition “The Hand. Workshop – Paliatzidiko”, held at Desmos Art Gallery in 1992. The title, however, also indicates the ultimate goal of this exhibition: to highlight the inexhaustible possibilities of a manual artist who worked quietly, tirelessly and systematically. 

If we wanted to depict Skylakos’ multifaceted artistic practice by using contemporary art terminology, we would say that his work is related to various trends and movements that emerged after 1945: Accumulation, Anti-art, Assemblage, Combine painting, Environment, Installation, Junk sculpture, Kitsch, Mobile, Neo-Dadaism, Nouveau Réalisme, Pop Art, Ready made, Site-specific art. The work of Skylakos is intuitive. It is based on emotion rather than intellect. At the same time, the habit of collecting useless and petty objects found on the street and in junk shops indicates an unusual, special attraction to matter. In the case of Skylakos, this attraction did not indicate any pathological dependence. It was intertwined with the transformation and revival of useless materials to others: “My work always started from that borderline point where something else had been permanently useless, had lost its reason for existence, all previous function. […] I am interested in giving life to what is no longer needed, make what does not exist visible”, he wrote in 1979 on the occasion of his solo exhibition “The Woman as a Symbol ” at Desmos Art Gallery. The cumulative logic that governs Skylakos’ wooden constructions leaves no room for doubt about the origin of his work while explaining why his name was associated – he was identified, one might say – with the art of assemblage.

VassilisSkylakos’ retrospective exhibition highlights the artist’s relationship with the game. He did not miss the opportunity to state that he “paints by playing” and that “his whole work is a game”. This optimistic approach ultimately brings him closer to the Nouveaux Réalistes, whom critics had characterised as “archaeologists of the present,” “polymorphic fetishists,” and “assemblers of perpetual transformation.” Skylakos did not need any characterisations. “Art is not only about creating things but also about observing,” he said. And, as he proves with the work he left behind, he was a keen observer of bourgeois culture, someone who managed to highlight the usefulness of the useless.

Vasilis Skylakos was born in Kiato, Corinth in 1930. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (1957-60). After completing his studies, he lived in Copenhagen (1960-63) and Paris (1962-66). He presented his work in solo exhibitions in Greece and abroad. For twenty years (1972-92), he worked closely with Desmos Art Gallery. In addition, he participated in dozens of group exhibitions: Salon de la Jeune Sculpture (Paris 1976), Contradiction 77 (American Centre, Paris 1977), Contemporary Greek Painters and Printmakers (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin 1979), Europalia 1982 (Brussels 1982), Peinture Grecque 1968-1988 (Brussels 1988), La Sculpture Grecque Contemporaine (Maison de l’Architecture, Paris 1991).In 1994 he represented Greece at the Sao Paulo Biennale. His works can be found in the National Gallery, the Vorres Museum, the Municipal Gallery of Rhodes and private collections. He passed away in 2000 in Athens. 

The exhibition is curated by Christoforos Marinos, an art historian and curator of OPANDA’s exhibitions and events.

The exhibition is held with the support of the ROMA Gallery, which also organizes the artist’s solo exhibition entitled “Travelogue. Works produced between 1960 and 1964” (March 14–April 29, 2023), curated by Christoforos Marinos.

Exhibition Opening Date: Friday, March 1017:00-21:00

Duration: March 9–April 23, 2023

Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 19:00, Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 

The exhibition will be closed on Mondays

Free Admission.

The City of Athens Art Gallery:

Buildings A& B: Leonidou & Myllerou Streets, Pl. Avdi, Metaxourgeio

Information: 210 5202420 |

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