Feel like you’re being watched?

Vlassis Kaniaris’s figures, which seem to have popped out of the film version of H.G. Wells’s «The Invisible Man,» have taken a stroll around the Benaki Museum. As we walk across the concourse, we are not alone; we feel those «observers» watching us from above. The artist’s signature figures have been arranged leaning against the walls and standing among the Benaki Museum’s permanent exhibits. They seem to be looking straight at paintings and sculptures, as they interrupt but also facilitate the visitors’ journey throughout history at the museum. The Benaki Museum is celebrating artist Vlassis Kaniaris’s 80th birthday with the exhibition «Genethlion» (Anniversary), curated by Manos Stefanidis, which goes on display tonight. According to Stefanidis, this exhibition «comes at the right time,» since it focuses on the concepts of timelessness and artistic dialogue. Side by side The figures, which have been fashioned from worn-out clothing, reused objects, plaster and wire, coexist alongside works that hail from as far back as the Archaic period and post-Byzantine Greece. Stefanidis describes the display as something of a wager and at the same time a game between science, history, art, museology and the ideology of art. Kaniaris’s works are engaged in a dialogue that is not restricted to the museum’s permanent exhibits. Both the artist and the curator wanted the figures to also address the audience, something they have managed to do by taking advantage of their numerous postures, without adopting any «postmodern blasphemy.» For instance, the «immigrants» holding suitcases find appropriate refuge in the wood-carved halls from Kozani. They are not intended to address the traditional embroidery, but the audience. Particular emphasis has also been laid on the drawings that Kaniaris created from 1947 to the 1960s, 200 of which can be found in the museum’s permanent collection. The drawings range from student sketches to more painstaking drawings and from book covers to notes for future works. The parallel screening of a video installation by artist Thodoris Chryssikos completes the exhibition. «Anniversary» will open tonight at the Benaki Museum (1 Koumbari & Vas. Sofias, Kolonaki, tel 210.367.1000) and runs through March 2.

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