Small version of ‘The Runner’ appears on Myconos

A few years ago, Costas Varotsos’s emblematic glass sculpture “The Runner” had to cover the distance from Omonia Square in central Athens, where it was originally placed, to a tiny square facing the Hilton Athens Hotel, where it stands today.

These days a 3-meter-tall copy of the 12-meter original gazes out over the Aegean Sea from a luxury property on the cosmopolitan Cycladic island of Myconos.

Turkish businessman Ugur Ozkan had stayed at the Hilton Athens in the past and observed the original “Runner” from his room. Finding himself under its spell, he subsequently went in search of the Greek artist and commissioned him to create a smaller version of the work for his Myconos villa.

“Ever since the story broke in the local press a few days ago my phones have been ringing nonstop,” the artist told Kathimerini, adding that he “never expected that something which was created two years ago would become the subject of such publicity today. In fact, I had never been commissioned to create a smaller version of a large-scale public sculpture. ‘The Runner’ has an urban quality about it; it is a work especially conceived for display in the city. It had never crossed my mind that it could grace a private residence. It took me a while to execute, but when I saw the end result and the exact spot that was chosen for its display, I must admit that I liked it. Especially when the wind is blowing and the sea gets rough.”

A leading entrepreneur in Turkey’s steel industry, Ozkan has developed a soft spot for Greece and visits the country regularly.

“When I met him in person, I realized that he loved art. He is a collector and has his own aesthetic, his own feeling for art. We got into the entire ‘Runner’ adventure together. He bought the materials and I put in the manual work. The sculpture was a gift to him. I insist on this fact because the first thing people ask me is how much he paid for it,” said Varotsos.

In fact, publicity in this case came for all the wrong reasons. While most focused on the lifestyle aspect of this particular Varotsos project, the artist has also created one of the most powerful monuments to illegal migration: “The Landing (A work dedicated to migrating humanity),” on permanent display in Italy. The work pays tribute to the “Tragedy of Otranto,” in which 83 Albanians died when an Albanian ship carrying migrants sank following a collision with an Italian vessel in the Strait of Otranto in 1997.

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