On 5 August, 2023 the exhibition What We Learn from Land and Sea has opened at Cycladic Arts, an artist-run residency and exhibition space on the Greek island of Paros. The question of balancing forces, and the right ‘measure,’ connects the works of the five artists from different backgrounds. The starting point is a journal entry from the Aegean Notebooks of poet and essayist Zissimos Lorenzatos (1915-2004):
“The sky, earth and sea of Greece only allow you a limited number of things to believe, build, sketch, live or speak. The smallest wrong movement and everything can fall into the abyss. Sometimes its inhabitants have known this and have believed, built, sketched, lived (and spoken) accordingly. At other times they have missed the mark and tried to do other things which neither the sky nor the earth nor the sea in this country allow you to do. Things that the country won’t take, as they say.”
In his Notebooks, Lorenzatos recounted his trips over the Aegean Sea in the 1970s and 1980s, visiting many of the Cycladic Islands by sailboat. Daily observations about weather conditions, places, and people he met merge with philosophical reflections on language, agriculture, technology, progress, and how to live “the good life.” Lorenzatos was inspired by what can be learned from land and sea. He believed that the spirit and setting of a place offers a set of natural limitations. People who build and create should not ignore these measures, but be instructed and inspired by the environment. Lorenzatos’s writings can be read as an ode to the Aegean, as an early wake-up call concerning climate, and also as a reminder of existing knowledge. The right measures in life do not need to be invented. They are already available but need to be remembered, observed, and put into practice.
The artists in this group exhibition do not make loud statements. What they think, feel, or strive for is absorbed, reflected, and transformed in their work. It comes in the shape of archetypal figures, in bands of colors taken from houses or skies, in stony landscapes, in stories of origin, and in the act of existential balance. The exhibition presents artworks that speak about measures, boundaries, and relationships through the grace of form.
Participating artists: Nikos Aslanidis, Béatrice Dreux, Kati Roover, Sean Scully, Maria Spyraki, curated by Jurriaan Benschop for Cycladic Arts, an initiative of Dimitra Skandali. Exhibition 5 August- 30 September, 2023. Visiting hours daily 7.30 – 10 pm (except Tuesday). Image: installation view with works by Maria Spyraki (left, center) and Béatrice Dreux (right).