CULTURE

Greek artist in Chinese art fair

Blurred images printed on a metallic, futuristic-like membrane surface make up the photographic series «Total Recall,» which artist Dimitris Antonitsis presented at the International Art Fair of Beijing (CIGE 2008), the eighth successive Chinese contemporary art fair that took place recently. Antonitsis was invited to show his work in «Alternative Energy,» a side event of the art fair that featured 13 solo exhibitions by international, multimedia artists. «Total Recall» is the continuation of «Blurred Fiction,» an earlier body of work that again explores abstraction in relationship to photography and photography’s «paint-like» effect. Both series deal with issues related to memory and its retrieval. Antonitsis picks out images from his digital photo archive and prints them by using metallic colors on a metallic, foil-like membrane. In parts, the surface is left uncovered (the equivalent in painting would be to leave areas of the white canvas bare); those bare areas function as mirrors. They show the distorted reflections of the surroundings. Rather than function as a window onto an image, they turn the attention to that which is outside the photograph. This outward thrust is counterbalanced by the blurred, more atmospheric images that are printed on the rest of the membrane. The work of Antonitsis is about the recall of the unconscious and its confrontation with reality. This is the first large presentation of Antonitsis’s work in China. An artist who constantly travels, he has had exhibitions in various parts of the world, including in New York where he spends much of his time working and preparing his curatorial projects (the Hydra project, a contemporary art group show that is held each year in Hydra is one of the most talked-about projects). Antonitsis, who went to Beijing for the event, said that the city has a strong local market that is mostly focused on Chinese contemporary art. According to his impression, the Chinese buy mostly Chinese art and are not very knowledgeable about the international, contemporary art scene. When they invest in Western art, they choose the established, big names. How much a work of art costs is a criterion for them of its artistic value. Nevertheless, CIGE was an international event and included many galleries from Europe and the USA. Antonitsis said that their booths were all of artistic quality. The Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center was the only Greek gallery that participated in the art fair. Arguably, the presence of the international galleries are an indication of a growing Chinese art market. Antonitsis spoke of an emerging, lively artistic scene, at the heart of which is «798 Space,» Beijing’s gallery and art district located in a former industrial complex since 2002. A recent addition to the city’s visual arts scene is the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art which was founded by the the Belgian Baron Guy Ullens and his wife Miriam in 2007. Directed by Jerome Sans (founder and former co-director of the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art space in Paris) this establishment focuses on contemporary Chinese art. www.cige-bj.com