CULTURE

Viewing the ordinary as sublime

The neon sign of a railway station canteen or the closed bars of a basement leather shop in Thessaloniki may seem like mundane images to spur one’s creative vision. But artist Sotiris Panousakis singled out such commonplace scenes in public spaces, photographed them and then transformed them into a series of large-scale paintings whose warm, inward quality have nothing in common with the initial, real-life images. In his paintings, presented at the artist’s third solo show at «the apartment» gallery, Panousakis turns the fluorescent, commercial signage or the lighting and interior design of restaurants and stores into warm colors and velvety textures. The eye-catching, standardized aesthetics of commercial spaces acquire the craftsmanship and unique quality of painting. Panousakis «deconstructs» the language of commercial signage and uses the initial images in an entirely different context. The artist intends to draw attention to the properties of painting, to explore its language and its impact. It is a concern that several artists share at a time when much of contemporary art is taken up by works that employ the so-called new media. Interestingly, although Panousakis is a pure painter, he bases his work on the photographs that he takes of his subject. Each photograph is cropped to produce the desirable effect. A photocopy of the cropped version provides the model for his painting. Each stage takes the original image further away from what it looks like in real life. The colors change and the surfaces appear rougher and unfinished. With photography and printing acting as mediators, the final painting becomes, in the artist’s own words, «the representation of a representation.» The original image becomes vague and representation gives way to abstraction. The play between the two is constant: From a distance, one of the paintings has the clarity of photorealism, but from up close the texture of painting prevails over description. Panousakis’s paintings explore disguise and transformation: Public spaces are made to feel like private domains and commercial signs appear like abstract shapes. Painted with skill, they immerse the viewer in an interesting play between form and color, representation and abstraction. At the apartment (21 Voulis, tel 210.321.5469) to November 18. Opening hours Wed-Fri 11 a.m – 8 p.m., Sat 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.