Thursday, March 10, 2016

Part Company

Part Company, an exhibition by Greek artist Kostis Velonis in Casa Maauad, features a series of sculptures, paintings and a video created during the artists’ three-month residency in Mexico City. Velonis' work evokes contradictory ideas through the use of simple materials.

The artist approaches the history of 20th century sculpture through carefully designed responses in wood, plaster, brick and concrete. Part Company combines antithetical approaches to community living and social participation by two distinct figures of Mexican Modernism, Greek-Mexican activist Plotino Rhodakanaty (1828-1892) and Mexican artist of German origin Mathias Goeritz (1915-1990). The exhibition adapts models of public sculptures by Goeritz and is informed by research on Rhodakanatys’ political concepts. It explores a broader context around social class, politics of sculpture, architecture and design, encompassing rather than isolating these two separate ideologies.

"To Part Company" means to end an association or relationship at the same point in time, and suggests a persistent tendency to reconcile a separation. Here, it functions as a need for conceptual reform against disassociation and fragmented knowledge.

In Part Company, Velonis re-evaluates Goeritz's principle of “Emotional Architecture” formulated in 1954, which became the aesthetic basis of his work. The german aesthete defends the importance of the physical perception of space and the necessity for a sensual and tactile experience with the object. For Goeritz, the archetypal hero is the 'architect'. He believed the role of the artist is to reform and artificialize the natural, emphasizing three-dimensional, symbolical or inhabitable utopias.

Velonis revisits Emotional Architecture through today's de mythologizing of modern ideals by replacing Goeritz's metaphysics with earthly and vulnerable constructions that draws inspiration from a variety of discarded materials usually debris from the streets such as odd bits of wood in the city suburbs or scattered edifices in abandoned industrial and suburban areas. Similarly, Rhodakanaty's ideas on working class emancipation, a worn-out term of 19th century ideals, seems to be in need for an updated interpretation in the current postwar market.

In Part Company, Rhodakanaty's anonymous peasant acts as an invented persona that replaces the eponymous citizen identified through cultural supremacy whilst Goeritz's geometrical applications are reversed to serve social experimentation rather than elitism. The Greek Mexican anarchist may be urging us to re-think some of the modernist formalistic trends also encountered in today's contemporary art production. Understanding modernity's discourse through Goeritz's approach is an intriguing way to justify the rejection of memory (from collective to interpersonal relationships) and complements Rhodakanaty's ethics through which Goeritz cannot be restricted exclusively to the field of aesthetics, just as socialist narratives may not be solely perceived through a passive reception of a political message.

Part Company
March 17 - April 28, 2016
Thursday March 17, 7pm-10pm