I want to be the Hero of my own story
By Artemis Potamianou
A digital & site specific solo exhibition by Artemis Potamianou presented by Darling Pearls & Co (London) and IFAC Arts (Athens, NYC).
.Exhibition Dates : 2 October 2021 – 5 January 2022
From 5PM London, 7PM Athens, 12AM New York
Visits are online, right here & @ https://www.artsy.net/partner/ifac-arts
Darling Pearls & Co presents “I want to be the Hero of my own story”, a site specific and digital solo exhibition by Artemis Potamianou hosted at Darling’s website & on Artsy, all in collaboration with IFAC Arts. As part of Darling’s art residencies programme, the show introduces Potamianou‘s two newest series: “Re-view the Unknown Masterpiece” & “Which side are you on? Fences”, as they progress through three months. It also displays her previous series, “The Unknown Masterpiece” and “Which side are you on? Cages” (2018). Her present bodies of work continue them respectively.
Potamianou‘s artworks group diversities of carefully selected samples in new compositions: characters and environments represented in seminal artworks and also actual life artefacts. This virtual and physical reorganisation of known references highlights, comments upon and subverts originally intended or otherwise acquired meanings and purposes of representations and/or objects. Their placement forms updated narratives as the knowledge we have about them (and this is different for every viewer) enters a dialogue with their new context in the present. Her multimedia practice re-frames the circumstances and agents responsible for producing and exhibiting art and offers critiques of gender politics within our milieux from the perspective of a female participant. It is also from this position that the artist examines other features of the art world and cultural treatments of women are discussed.
The exhibition title “I want to be the Hero of my own story” is also the name of the first piece from the series “Which side are you on? Fences”. The series features famous quotes, often found in memes and in out of context online discussions. Here they appear either cited or paraphrased, knitted with plastic yarn on metallic fences to reference such barriers in the urban landscape in Athens. Both made on location and/or presented in art spaces, the fence’s mesh is transformed into a symbolic, ambiguous artistic substructure, hinting at the condition of protection and/or of enclosure and exclusion. The work comments on the uniqueness of human existence and focuses on one’s universal right to self-definition.
In “Re-View the Unknown Masterpiece”(2021), we are invited to observe an environment of known women, sampled from historical paintings and re-organised on canvas. Some of them appear more than once, suggesting continuity. This is the case of the girl in the red dress, originally from John Everett Millais’ “Leisure Hours” (1864). She appears both in Potamianou‘s “Re-view series: Barcelona Pavilion” (2011) and in “Re-view the Unknown Masterpiece 3” (2021). Whatever her location, she seems to refer to women strangely on display. Sample re-use also occurs within the series itself, as is the case of the girl popularly considered “mysteriously inviting” in Ter Borch’s “The Suitor’s Visit” (c. 1658), who appears twice in a diptych. Two of the works in the series include images of Victorine Meurent, Manet’s favourite model, as represented by him: once as she appears in the painting “A Young Lady in 1866” and once as in “The Street Singer” (1862) posing as such because the actual street singer, possibly a courtesan according to the stories, refused to do so.
All samples come from paintings that portrayed their female subjects with an interest in their psychology and inner worlds as well as their social lives. Various characters as they appear within Potamianou’s compositions were depicted in the original works with pets: a parrot, two goldfish and a dog. While birds had clear sexual connotations, other animals were more generally used to symbolise women’s secrets, their private lives.
Differently from the artist’s “The Unknown Masterpiece” (2018) series, in which the original paintings were all made by men, women from artworks by female artists are included in the new series. A figure that appears to be writing in “Re-view the Unknown Masterpiece 2” is from a painting that was originally ascribed to Jacques-Louis David and is now believed to have been painted by the portraitist Marie Denise Villers. In “Re-view the Unknown Masterpiece 1”, the two widows from “For the Last Time” (1864) by Emily Mary Osborn, are being invited through the door in place of the suitor. In this new situation lesser known work by female artists is camouflaged within a new social gathering; as if the group escaped the male gaze that determined their original roles.
Artemis Potamianou is an artist and curator living and working in Athens. Her work focuses on issues of perception. She explores the triptych artist, artwork and exhibition space, criticising standard curatorial practices and raising questions that defy the art system. In a constant dialogue with art history, she appropriates seminal works and deconstructs them only to reconstruct them again into a new reality. Her works feature familiar images in unfamiliar settings, absurd visual juxtapositions, and the simultaneous presence of different epochs in one story. Potamianou creates uncanny visual narratives – frequently to be experienced mentally and bodily – imbued with caustic political and feminist connotations.
Potamianou has had 25 solo exhibitions. Venues have included the Hellenic American Union (Athens), the Borough Museum and Art Gallery (Newcastle), the MAC (Midlands Art Center of Birmingham), Fizz Gallery (Athens), Tint Gallery (Thessaloniki) and Pleiades Gallery (Athens), amongst others.
She has participated in more than 130 group shows, at the 1st Biennale of Thessalonica, the BIDA – Biennale of Spain, the 3rd Athens Biennale, National Museum of Contemporary Art (Athens), State Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki), Vista Mare Foundation (Pescara), International Young Art 2002: Sotheby’s Amsterdam, Sotheby’s Tel Aviv, Sotheby’s Moscow, Change and Partner Contemporary Art (Rome), «Greek Sale»- Bonhams (London), The Benaki Museum (Athens), Biennale Internazionale Dell’ Arte Contemporanea (Florence), Open 15 – International Exhibition (Venice), Tensta Kulturhus-Tensta house of culture (Stockholm), etc. Potamianou completed her BA(FA) at the School of Fine Art (Athens) in 1997 and has subsequently received an MA degree from Staffordshire University (1999).
She has curated more than 60 exhibitions by influential artists of international relevance such as Joseph Kosuth, Damien Hirst, Joseph Beuys, Terry Atkinson, Peter Greenaway, Candice Brietz, Guerrilla Girls, etc.
Potamianou is also the founder and Director of Platforms Project – Independent Art Fair, the presenter and producer of Art Therapy, a radio talk show about visual art at Beton7 radio, since 2011, and the Editor in chief of visual arts for GRA Review (a magazine of architecture and design) since 2010. Potamianou is on the board and has been the Treasurer of AICA HELLAS (International Association of Art Critics) since 2015. Potamianou has written essays for exhibition catalogues and books.