A kind of woven meditation

Among the most accomplished Greek artists now in their early 40s, Nikos Alexiou stands out for his immediately recognizable, fragile-looking works, usually made out of thin paper or reed gazebos and resembling curtains composed of interlocking motifs. Alexiou has been producing works of this kind, with subtle variations, for many years and, despite their similarity, they are all engaging. Persistence, which in Alexiou’s case reaches the point of fixation, has something respectable about it and, in the works of this particular artist, it acquires a meditative quality that colors both his work method and the effect that the works have. The artist’s solo exhibition at the Unlimited Gallery is an occasion to look back on almost two decades of work and to understand the artist’s focus on recurring themes. Alexiou has gathered all sorts of small preparatory drawings, models, sketches, photographs and notes that stretch back more than a decade and were used by the artist for his larger works. Something like a map of the artist’s course, this microcosm of artworks and ideas, laid out on a table, resembles a scaled-down version of the artist’s studio, where all the various items are from. In the next hall, another installation includes the larger finished works: Alexiou’s trademark houses made out of reed gazebos and his «paper curtains» envelop the viewer as he walks in and around them. Alexiou began putting together his reed gazebo houses (something like seaside huts) back in the late 1980s. Like his paper curtains, they are open, suspended, airy constructions resembling embroidery and have a pronounced element of craftsmanship. Reed after reed, they are all sown together; like his paper curtains, they require hours of work and detailed execution. In one form or another, all of Alexiou’s works are grids, a web of interlocking motifs or connected units. Although highly decorative, they also have an obvious esoteric character and a potently soothing effect. Some of those motifs – especially in the paper curtains – are inspired by Mount Athos. The artist traced those motifs from Byzantine art back to pre-Mycenaean Greece. He appropriated them in his work to point to continuity and archetypes that transcend time and the differences of civilization. Just as archetypal images recur, Alexiou uses repetition as a fundamental aspect of his work. It is not a mechanical exercise; rather, it intends to make us realize the connections between things that seem unrelated but are only so on the surface. At the Unlimited Gallery (1 Kriezi, Psyrri, 210.331.4375 ) through Saturday.