CULTURE

Seeing in fall with annual comics festival

There are many ways to welcome fall in Athens and one of the major and most popular events this season is the Vavel comic art festival, which runs from October 7-10 at its usual venue, the Technopolis arts complex at Gazi. There are few changes of note in this year’s exhibit, save that the central theme, which in previous years focused more on a group of local Greek artists than it did on the rest of the program, has an even stronger presence this year. The playful title, «System (t) Error,» makes a direct reference to the social and political climate that has dominated the world over the past few years, as we have witnessed it through explosions of violence, terrorism, and the war in Iraq. Along with this group show of Greek artists, visitors will also have the opportunity to see the work of two trademark newspaper comic artists. Willem, of the newspaper «Liberation,» is one of the most distinctive voices of the French press and he is coming to Athens with the highly political comics that represent his latest crop. Yiannis Kalaitzis is very much to Greece what Willem is to France. Sharp and perceptive, his work is also highly political and it presents the world the way he sees it. Two other «impish» artists, from Italy, are showing work with a similar line of reasoning: Emanuela Biancuzzi, born in the early 1970s, is an animals rights activist, a vegetarian and an ecologist. She is also a very gifted artist whose images, though not always conveying a pleasant subject matter, leave the viewer with an unexpectedly good feeling. Alessandro Gottardo will be displaying a series of works titled «War,» in which he presents his view of an imaginary city after a war. Another Italian artist, Mario Dalmaviva, spent five-and-a-half years in a prison without having committed a crime other than being a member of a left-wing party. In prison, he designed an especially interesting series of artworks, titled «Doors.» These are not, as one might imagine, dark, claustrophobic works, but rather humorous comments on life and love. In line with the spirit of this year’s festival, the group display of Will Eisner, Andrea Pazienza, Giuseppe Palumbo, Roberto Balbazzini and Davide Fabbri focuses on human rights and is displayed in cooperation with the Italian section of Amnesty International. The highlight of the festival – and one bound to draw in the crowds – is a retrospective of the work of one of Europe’s most influential comics artist, Jacques de Loustal, who also enjoys a reputation as a painter. The exhibition will be showing both his paintings and his comics. Another surprise is a group tribute to the pioneering American underground comics artist Gilbert Shelton. Other artists of note at the festival are Marcel Bastian, an innovative Swiss artist, and Georges Schwizgebel, another Swiss artist, whose animated cartoons have won several awards worldwide. Close to an artistic perspective of comics is the work of Italy’s Andrea Bruno, while Israeli graphic artist David Tartakover shows some of his award-winning works, in cooperation with the Design Museum of Thessaloniki. Vavel Festival, at Technopolis (100 Pireos, Gazi) from October 7-10. Opening hours: Daily 7-12 p.m. with additional hours on Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. -2 p.m.