Artworks battle for prevalence

Dakis Joannou’s art collection is like a living being: It grows, it develops and it changes. Not only are new works constantly being added, but every exhibition held at the DESTE Foundation reveals different aspects, much in the way a DJ chooses different pieces of music from a large album collection for each set. This is where its secret lies: Over the past few years, the collector has entrusted his valuable possessions to a group of alternating curators. At the same time, the personal friendships he has cultivated with many of the artists whose works he owns brings ever new associations. In this way, the artists become a live and inextricable part of the foundation’s exhibition policy, rather than just showing their work. They each have their own say, and provide their own ideas and views. The latest tribute to open recently, titled «A Guest and a Host = A Ghost,» is representative of this transformation. The exhibition, whose title is derived from an aphorism by Marcel Duchamp, features both old and new works that either «harass» or coexist with one another. This is no simple dialogue between the works, but a silent fight for prevalence, an underlying battle of attraction and repulsion between creations that are very unique and dynamic. The novelty compared to previous DESTE exhibitions is that this show is planned in large groups of works, mostly by specific artists. The works of Robert Gober, Kiki Smith, Maurizio Cattelan, Paul McCarthy and Urs Fischer have been in the collection for some time, but these artists are also close friends of Joannou. Works by sculptor Pawel Althamer, Seth Price and Gregor Schneider are new additions. Hence the exhibition’s narrative character is broken by the presence of unconnected works and moves from the past to the present. Every work becomes a reflection of the one displayed beside it, so that it is hard to discern the host artist from the guest artist. Jeff Koons is not absent – he just doesn’t have the lion’s share as he used to. The show has been curated by Massimiliano Gioni, who has worked closely with Cattelan and Fischer. «Over the past few years, the exhibitions displayed at DESTE have been the result of many people getting together. They are not thematic in the traditional sense. But one could say that the latest exhibition looks like a compilation of solo displays by the specific artists who are represented in the collection by many works. Creations by other artists have been placed within these ‘sub-groups,’ hence creating parasitic relations between the exhibits,» said the Italian curator at the recent briefing at DESTE. The new acquisitions will certainly attract attention. These are the works by Price that can be seen next to the main entrance, fresh sculptures by McCarthy and a new section of works by Gober, a frequent visitor to Athens. Kara Walker’s older drawings are also quite fascinating. The exhibition runs through December 31 at the DESTE Foundation, E. Pappa & 11 Filellinon, Nea Ionia, tel 210.275.8490.