Κaktos Project presents City Dwellers, an online exhibition that features the work of four mid-career artists who investigate the textures and fragments, memories and potentials of the city. Dimitra Ioannou, Sotiris Panousakis, Lila Polenaki and Kostis Velonis have all found the city a source of inspiration, while it has impacted their practices in various ways.
Dimitra Ioannou’s interest lies in the position of women in public space and their lack of representation. Her ongoing photographic essay “The City is Now Yours” is a kind of palimpsest: in each photo there are traces of another; the magnified surfaces of walls, pavements and slogans found in Athens are inhabited by women’s bodies and vice versa. Sotiris Panousakis views the cityscape as an ever-changing, fluid scenery of transaction, negotiation and reconciliation. He strolls around the city like a flaneur, taking pictures of what gets his attention: neon signs, shop windows, metal surfaces and light sources. Panousakis is fascinated by the spectacle the city offers but also intrigued with what lies beneath it. He has created an immense photographic archive, which he uses as the starting point for paintings made by selecting, cropping and highlighting architectural elements and neon signs, as well as elements that tend to get overlooked: plasterboards, screws and sockets, cables and beams, all of which hold together the “imaginary” and the deceiving spectacle. Lila Polenaki is best known for her large monochromatic canvases which, although abstract, include fragments from the artists’ everyday life. In one of her wanderings, the artist found herself in front of an abandoned house in the outskirts of Athens. Having entered it, she came upon a handful of love letters between a Greek man and a Swiss teacher in the 1960s. This encounter inspired Polenaki to make paintings exploring ideas of memory and loss, exchange and cross-cultural communication, as well as the life of buildings and what they stand for. Kostis Velonis typically uses found materials to create sculptures and installations that move from the personal to the political. Species Speech (2015) is a sculpture whose effects in part derive from the tension between the organic and the abstract. It is made of marble, wood and acrylic, materials that are found in the landscape of Athens.
About the artists
Dimitra Ioannou lives and works in Athens. Ioannou experiments with narrative or antinarrative forms in various media (language, photography, publications). Her pamphlet Electric Sarcasm is out from Ugly Duckling Presse (2020). She has exhibited her (video) poems and photos in solo and group shows in Greece. She is the editor of the literary and art journal A) GLIMPSE) OF).
Sotiris Panousakis (b. 1968) lives and works in Thessaloniki. Panousakis studied Fine Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and holds an MFA from Goldsmiths College, London. His work has been exhibited at the Marksman Gallery, Reading, UK (solo); Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; and Alex Mylona Museum, Athens. Panousakis teaches fine art at Aristotle Universityand is represented by CAN Christina Androulidaki Gallery, Athens.
Lila Polenaki (b. 1964) lives and works in Athens. Polenaki studied at the University of the Arts in Berlin and has participated in group exhibitions at the Kutscherhaus, Berlin; Center of Contemporary Art, Crac Alsace, Strasbourg; Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; Benaki Museum, Athens; and Museum of Cinematography, Thessaloniki. She has had solo exhibitions at Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Athens (2011, 2007, 2004, 2002, 1999, 1997, 1994) and at Francoise Heitsch Gallery in Munich (2008).
Kostis Velonis (b. 1968), lives and works in Athens, Greece. Velonis holds an MRes in Humanities and Cultural Studies from London Consortium (Birkbeck College, ICA, AA, Tate). He studied Arts Plastiques/Esthétiques at Université Paris 8 and earned his PhD from the Department of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens. Solo exhibitions in museums and institutions have been held at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart; Casa Maauad, Mexico City; Lothringer13 – Städtische Kunsthalle München, Munich; Signal Center for contemporary art, Malmö, Sweden; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; Kunstverein Hamburg. Velonis has had commissions from DESTE Foundation, Athens; Onassis Culture, New York; NEON, Athens; and has received fellowships and residencies including Casa Maauad, Artist in Residence, Mexico City; MAK Schindler Scholarship, Architect in Residence at MAK Center, Los Angeles; IASPIS, Malmö, Sweden. Velonis is Professor of Fine Arts at the Athens School of Fine Art, Athens, and is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens; Monitor Gallery, Rome; and Zina Athanasiadou Gallery, Thessaloniki.