Art Athina, the Athens contemporary art fair which opens today at the Helexpo center, provides an opportunity for the general public to get a representative view of the art on display in Greek galleries and gain a general impression of international trends in the visual arts. It also gives collectors the chance to choose from a great variety of artworks. The fair is a useful platform for networking and an occasion that helps enliven the art market. A total of 45 galleries are participating in this year’s event. Many of the Greek galleries that were absent from last year’s fair are participating in the current event. International galleries include Francoise Heitsch and Reinhard Hauff galleries from Germany, Blow de la Barra from the United Kingdom, Monitor from Italy and Groeflin Maag Galerie from Switzerland. The organizers, and particularly Christos Savvidis, have attempted to draw in the more cutting-edge international galleries. Besides the art fair’s main section of gallery booths, there are several parallel projects and exhibitions designed by international and Greek curators. Sarah Belden, director of the Berlin gallery Curators without Borders, has invited young, trendy galleries from Berlin and New York City in a project that explores and compares the gallery scene in each of the above centers. On the lower level of the Helexpo building, Marina Fokidi has curated «The Garage,» an exhibition that focuses on the local visual arts scene. The exhibition encourages the interaction of the public and is partly based on the idea of integrating art with everyday life and even giving it a utilitarian aspect. Other events throughout the city have been organized as part of Art Athina. «Lion under the Rainbow, Contemporary Art from Tehran» is a most interesting, contemporary art exhibition taking place on the occasion of Art Athina. It is organized by D.ART and hosted in a building in central Athens (48-50 Aeolou). The exhibition is curated by artist Alexandros Georgiou, who has spent several months traveling in Iran, researching the contemporary art scene. The exhibition (www.lionundertherainbow) presents artworks by Iranian artists who live and work in Tehran. It shows the richness and variety of expression and helps clarify the often biased perceptions that the Western world has of the art produced in non-Western, Islamic countries. An important exhibition also taking place on the occasion of Art Athina is «Five Seasons of the Russian Avant-Garde: Works from the Costakis Collection,» which has been organized by the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki in collaboration with the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, where it is presented. Other parallel activities include lectures by international and Greek specialists in the field. Art Athina will run through Sunday at Helexpo (39 Kifissias, Maroussi). The Hellenic Art Galleries Association is the art fair’s organizing institution. Info: www.art-athina.gr. or tel 210.616.8888. Open today noon – 9 p.m., Sat & Sun 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.