Moscow comes to Thessaloniki

This new art project resembles a guided tour through Thessaloniki’s contemporary and historic buildings. At the same time it is a journey through the contemporary art of Russia. The «Moscow-Thessaloniki 2009: Works from the Stella Art Foundation Collection» project features works mostly by contemporary Russian artists as well as a few international names, exhibited in both older and more modern museums and foundation premises in the northern port city. The event, jointly organized with Russia’s Stella Art Foundation and the Greek ArtBox organization, is part of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale parallel program. The first stop is at the city’s Archaeological Museum, where the exhibition of works by Alexander Djikia, titled «Variations on Minoan and Mycenaean Seals,» is on display. The artist has added his own personal touch to the cryptic, ancient seals. «It is like translating,» he told Kathimerini. His figures of animals and people in constant movement, which make one think what a comic strip of the past could have looked like, are displayed alongside the amber jewelry and objects that have been part of the Archaeological Museum’s collection for years now. The next stop is at one of Thessaloniki’s few surviving old manors, the Kapantzis Villa, which has housed the National Bank Cultural Foundation’s Thessaloniki Cultural Center for about 20 years. In this unique building, the public has the opportunity to admire some of the works of the Stella Art Foundation’s collection through November 1. These works have previously gone on display in Vienna, at the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennale and at the Documenta 12 art festival in Kassel, Germany. The exhibition, which is curated by Thalia Stefanidou, bears the title «Subjective Visions.» The works exhibited in the rooms of the Kapantzis Villa mostly show what inspires contemporary Russian artists. Twentieth-century history has a very strong presence, as does a feeling of sadness and anger, which seems to strike a fine balance with tenderness – the most indicative work are the etchings by American Robert Mapplethorpe, depicting flowers and knives in perfect symmetry. There is extensive use of new technologies that have been cleverly applied to more traditional art techniques. Visitors leave the building with many different images fighting for prevalence in the mind. Contemporary Russian art has also left a permanent mark on Thessaloniki’s port. A sculpture installation by Haim Sokol has been donated to the city of Thessaloniki and to the Thessaloniki Port Authority by the Stella Art Foundation. The northern port city is currently hosting one of the many and perhaps most controversial aspects of today’s modern Russia.