October 16, 2020 – January 16, 2021
Images courtesy of Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain
Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain is hosting the first personal exhibition of Apostolos Georgiou in an institution in France. Born in 1952 in Thessaloniki in Greece, Georgiou first studied architecture in Vienna before studying painting in Florence from 1973 to 1975. He lives and works between Athens and the island of Spokelos where he is developing an atypical pictorial oeuvre with large-format paintings and drawings. The exhibition Hello Dog, Hello Sir! presents some twenty recent works. The deliberately absurd title firstly evokes a painting presented in the exhibition but also the grotesque world of the artist in the style of Jacques Tati.
Georgiou’s characters live an extraordinary existence, taking part in situations that are often unexpected and incoherent. The imaginary world is conjured up in little scenes offering as many personal stories as there are viewers. Georgiou likes to talk, to describe details in his paintings, but does not want to impose his own rhetoric or narrative – his works never have a title in order to avoid any parasitic linguistic influence. As a lover of metaphor, he compares a work of art to a lover: there is a unique charm in the relationship between the viewer and the painter.
Georgiou casts his gaze over all strata of society, his representations alternately showing bourgeois interiors, packed crowds gathered for mysterious reasons – demonstrations or speeches, perhaps concerts? – and exteriors which exhaust the question of landscape. Each painting, except for rare exceptions, is constructed as a ‘case dismissed’, without any characteristics of its own, accentuated by lifeless grey backgrounds. It is in this very lack of points of reference that this painting asserts its form while still appearing disconcerting. It is therefore impossible to describe a precise context and the characters themselves are interchangeable, marked by bold yet ordinary features.
Georgiou’s painting itself recalls a certain sort of contemporary theatre that strives to erase all references to preserve the very essence of the form and the intention. This way of constructing compositions, focussing on one essential expression, leads the spectator to observe a simple situation between micro-action and micro-event. These snapshots, often autobiographical, combine everyday trivia and reflections on the human condition blended with absurd or black humor. From these paintings arises an impression of serenity and an ambivalent sensation oscillating between benevolence and malaise. Georgiou described the feeling he is seeking: «A painting must have the tension to provoke us to look at it; to wake us up from a state of indifference».
Passerelle warmly thanks the galleries gb agency, Paris and Rodeo, London/ Piraeus as well as private collectors