A new direction for DESTE

A new era is dawning at the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. An institution established by collector Dakis Ioannou and with a rich resume of landmark exhibitions during the 1980s and the 1990s (including shows such as «Artificial Nature» and «Post Human»), many of its activities had been based on Ioannou’s internationally renowned private collection and the groundbreaking choices of innovative American curator Jeffrey Deitch. DESTE first set up shop at The House of Cyprus, before establishing its premises in a Neo Psychico building in 1998. The foundation has now moved to a former industrial space in Nea Ionia, where the «Monument to Now» exhibition took place during the 2004 Olympic Games. The change of address signals the end of a long period of intense exhibition activity – often associated with the «beautiful people» attending cocktail and gala openings, also thanks to the Cosmos restaurant situated on the ground floor of the Neo Psychico venue – and the beginning of a new, creative chapter. «In the past, our visitor target group focused on all those interested in developments in the world of art,» Dakis Ioannou told Kathimerini. «Now we’d like to turn DESTE itself into a target group for young Greek artists who believe they have something different to offer. We are not interested in the kind of exhibition activity we were involved in so far. We would like to attract a group of people with new ideas and willing to experiment.» The collector’s comments may not be specific enough to outline a concrete action plan for the group, but they do indicate a change of direction and strategy in the foundation which altered the Athenian artistic scene. The priority now is to promote local creativity, which has struggled to find a platform for expression. Dakis Ioannou’s decision to give the DESTE foundation a new sense of direction is also linked to his desire to redirect his own private collection. «I don’t want the collection to just travel around the world,» he said. «I would agree to certain proposals, which would include a different kind of reading and interpretation, such as the exhibition that took place at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris last summer.» At the refurbished Nea Ionia building, the first exhibition, «Panic Room,» opens its doors to the public today, featuring some 136 sketches executed by young, mainly American artists. Once again, the works stem from the rich fountain of the Ioannou collection. The tribute gets its name from a namesake work by the Assume Vivid Astro Focus artistic team and because it spreads across one room. In contrast to past exhibitions and tributes featuring a number of the collection’s star artists, such as Jeff Koons, Tim Webster and Sue Noble and Takashi Murakami, the current show illuminates a young and dynamic group of artists who have chosen sketching as their primary means of expression. The three Greek participating artists are Georgia Sagri, Yiannis Varelas and Christina Soulou. DESTE Foundation, Em. Pappa & Filellinon, Nea Ionia, tel 210.275.8490.

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