Mark Hadjipateras takes stock

He is one of those artists capable of creating an entire world and making the viewer feel part of it. Mark Hadjipateras’s work moves between the fields of sculpture, painting, photography and installation art. It makes up a small, personal universe in which every viewer feels welcome. This mood prevails in the artist’s solo exhibition, at the Municipal Gallery of Rhodes until the end of the month. With «Home ‘n’ Friends» as a title, the exhibition features the enigmatic hybrid creatures that are so typical of his work and seem as if taken out of fairy tales or science-fiction stories. They are creatures that resemble toys, animals or objets trouves and seem to come from different periods in time and civilizations. They transmit a will to communicate with the viewer, a positive energy and a surface innocence. But they also challenge the viewer’s intellect. Hadjipateras chose some of his hybrid protagonists for his mosaic installation that adorns Manhattan’s 28th Street subway station. Those sympathetic creatures add a touch of happiness to the otherwise dull surroundings of the metro and, as in the Rhodes exhibition, are a psychological lift for the viewer. The Rhodes exhibition is the first time that the artist has taken on the role of curator. «I had to choose and install all the works that I believe to be representative of all my work. My estimate is that I have created more than 3,000 works from the 1980s until today. This is a sort of survey exhibition. I tried not to be overwhelmed by the challenge but to be light about it. My idea was to show some works that have never been shown before or that are very recent. I finally decided that with the 80 works that I chose, I would tell a small story,» the artist told Kathimerini. A sense of familiarity Hadjipateras, who belongs to the well-known family of shipowners from Oinouses, is unpretentious and affable. He also has unconventional views on art: «The story I am telling at the Rhodes exhibition is that art is not only for the elite or for art historians and specialists. On the contrary, the presentation of an artist’s work should be an open invitation to everybody. In any case, most of the people who will come visit this exhibition will most likely be tourists. My objective was to create an exhibition that would communicate a feeling of familiarity and domestic warmth, a playful mood. An artist should know how to entertain. Not to entertain with dubious lightness but by creating an attractive object or pleasant surroundings for the viewer. To entertain by sharing thoughts and emotions and not with haughtiness,» the artist said. «Speaking for myself, I can say that I have found a refuge in art. Art helps me integrate socially and I really feel lucky that I have been able to commit myself to art without having to worry about making a living. This is why reciprocating becomes all the more important to me. I would like each work to be able to offer something to others. When I was studying art in London and when I was still a young artist, I very strongly felt the need of the public’s affirmation. I wanted to prove that I could make a good work of art. Nowadays, I enjoy much more the creative process itself.» The exhibition is a huge installation comprising objects that the artist has purchased from IKEA: sheets, bedspreads, bottles, mirrors and cutlery are the artist’s tools (the idea goes back to Hadjipateras’s participation in the group exhibition «Unfair,» which was organized by Gerasimos Kappatos). They are mass-produced, ordinary objects that take on a new, non-utilitarian character. This mini-retrospective exhibition on Rhodes reveals the diverse media in which the artist has worked: sculptures, objets trouves, monotypes and paintings among them. «The mind never stops coming up with new ideas. Some works spring to mind but are implemented at a later time. As an artist matures, it is important that he become less narcissistic and more in tune with what he really carries within. I am lucky to be a father because my two sons have helped me to understand that neither one’s self nor one’s art are at the center of the world.» Mark Hadjipateras’s maturity enables him to turn the childishness into a primary tool for his work. And, to do so with a sense of humor and irony but also with sincerity and self-awareness.

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