CULTURE

Athens in a notebook

Pavlos Habidis?s signature take on the city of Athens has over time acquired an identifiable and somewhat reassuring character. Through his drawings, which have a traveler?s notebook quality to them, the artist seems to lift the city up to the sky, before bringing it back down to earth again.

The artist?s ?Small Athenian? works, a series of walks around familiar spots of the ?official? city, are currently on display at the Genesis Gallery in Kolonaki, becoming part of the city?s visual arts heritage.

Art historian and curator Iris Kritikou defines the artist?s vision of Athens as ?eloquent? and ?tender.? Personally, I would add that it incorporates the insight of a wandering explorer?s well-trained eye. After all, Habidis?s work on urban landscapes is a separate oeuvre within his collection of paintings. So far, the artist has portrayed the cities of Brussels, Paris, Istanbul and Athens in his work.

When he is observing cities, the artist turns into a ?shadow? in an illuminated square, an invisible person in crowded places, a traveler?s ghost taking notes with notebook and colorful pencils in hand. There is something deeply moving when it comes to handmade art at a time when everything else is moving so fast.

Habidis reminds me of architect-artists and watercolorists in the countryside. In this case, however, the artist seems to cut out Athenian scenes and return them revamped, joyful and optimistic. A few years ago, the artist worked on the Athens edition of the Louis Vuitton Travel Notebook series. His vision of the city had been strangely attractive back then: His was another kind of Athens, our own and his own.

As the ?Small Athenian? works stroll around Kolonaki and Stadiou, Patission and Panepistimiou streets, they turn into a city notebook balancing between a welcome and a farewell. Amid an undoubtedly elated mood, there are traces of a hard-to-read present. Athens is on the borderline and therefore constantly attracting new attention.

Genesis Gallery, 35 Haritos, Kolonaki, tel 211.7100.566. To May 28.