What comes to mind when you hear “art in Greece”? Probably you think of “ancient Greek art”, “Neoclassicism” “Byzantine art”, or, due to most recent events: “financial crisis”… But now in the heart of the ancient world, within sight of the Acropolis ruins, contemporary creative minds are giving a new lease of life to the words “Greek art”. An exquisite grand mansion, where sits the oldest foreign archaeological institute in Athens – École Française d’Athènes – welcomes an outdoor contemporary art exhibition “Terrapolis,” that will run to the end of July. You can walk this urban oasis filled with works by the well-known contemporary artists and talented newcomers thanks to successful collaboration between NEON (a Greek nonprofit founded by collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos that focuses on Greek contemporary culture) and London’s Whitechapel Gallery (director Iwona Blazwick is the co-curator of “Terrapolis”).
An outdoor green park in the center of a hot city is a relaxing place in itself, but when you can enjoy this sanctuary near Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin or a bronze statue by Sarah Lucas and Enrico David, it becomes a real art enthusiast paradise. The archeological institute has opened its doors to the public very rarely, so now you have a chance not only to see the beautiful works, but also to visit the unique garden.
“Terrapolis” is the second part of NEON / Whitechapel Gallery outdoors trilogy (the third exhibition will be held in 2016) that brings contemporary artists from Greece and around the world into the spotlight. NEON strongly believes that art is key for growth and development, seeing what is going on in Athens, we couldn’t agree more. Greek art scene is blooming, even though the National Museum of Contemporary Art is under construction for many years now, NEON successfully fills the gap.
Another exciting project put together by NEON and Whitechapel Gallery is the revival of the National Garden in Athens. NEON (that solely finances the project) commissioned a well-known landscape architect Louis Benech, who created or renovated over 300 parks and gardens, including Tuileries garden, Quai d’Orsai, the Gardens of the Achilleion and many other established and historic places. Benech is working with the Greek architectural firm doxiadis+in close collaboration with the Athens Department for Green Spaces and the Environment. “Discovering the National Garden” project includes landscape thorough analysis, which will help rejuvenate eight specific locations of the National Garden, where visitors will enjoy contemporary art. The project will undoubtedly bring more tourists and art lovers to the ancient city and will help locals and guests breathe during hot summers.
It is necessary to mention, that Documenta 14 will be hosted by Athens and Kassel in 2017. This again proves that art is above any kind of boarders. And while we all wait for the Documenta and for the National Garden to become an “Art Garden”, you can catch a breath and hide from the heat in the comfort of the École Française garden’s shadows enjoying “Terrapolis”.