There’s a surprise awaiting passersby at Syntagma Square on Thursday night, precisely at 9 p.m., as the lights will go off and the facade of the Hotel Grande Bretagne will be briefly transformed. The action, however, starts earlier in the evening, with a white bed on the sidewalk in front of the iconic hotel.
Up-and-coming artist Maria Fragoudaki – who shares her time between New York and Athens – has prepared an artistic event that brings together performance, painting, modern technology and interaction. She is joined by performance artist Anastasia Argyriou, a student of art psychology.
The fact is that this project is like no other we have seen in Greece. It is an initiative that acts as a comprehensive artistic experience in a public space, an intervention that respects the city and makes an impact on the viewer. Such events are quite frequent in big cities in other parts of the world, but in Athens, this is a first.
The artist, who has been increasingly earning critical acclaim on the other side of the Atlantic, tells Kathimerini that she does not want to reveal the details of the “BedSheets Art Project.” The only thing she wants to stress is that she was very specific in her choice of Syntagma Square – a location packed with symbolism and emotional charge – as her venue and the timing of the event in the economic crisis.
Her objective, she explains, is to encourage the audience to ponder when they feel free and what obstacles they experience to their freedom of thought, expression and action. Given her interest in seeing the audience’s spontaneous reaction, the artist thought it best to launch the project much like a secret that is suddenly unveiled rather than a much-hyped event.
The “BedSheets Art Project” is not restricted to Thursday’s event at Syntagma, however, as Fragoudaki will be presenting a series of mixed-medium works at the SG gallery of the St George Lycabettus Hotel on Kolonaki as of May 5.
The exhibition will shed ample light on the thought process behind her work, but also on her unorthodox use of materials. The artist’s aim is to expand the painting medium from two dimensions to three, while giving the audience the opportunity to take a tactile approach to her work. Here, the sense of touch plays an equal part to the sense of sight.
Born in Athens in 1983, Fragoudaki studied chemistry, pharmacology and business management in the UK. It was during that time in London that she realized she was dedicating all of her free time to art. The realization of this need prompted her to change direction and move to New York, where she is enjoying a successful career as an artist, having sold work even to Google. Despite the fact that she lives abroad, she has never lost touch with Greece, and the present initiative is an attempt to give something back to a city that is being sorely tested.