A gallery from Athens brought over 40 drawings by Christos to the Paris Drawing Now Fair in 2013 to premiere his works outside Greece. Wandering through the fair I stumbled upon the drawn-on book covers arranged on an L shaped shelf around most of the booth and found them instantly impressive yet discomforting. The political crisis in Greece was all over the news that year, yet Christos mystifying imagery told another story of the country’s troubled psychological state of mind. Often nostalgic, dark or even sinister, the drawings to me reveal a nation of shattered dreams, exemplified by the ripped-out content of the books, the whole series an attempt to visually archive a society’s past while trying to newly recharge its soul.
Christos Venetis’s drawing series Anemic Archives depicts real and imaginary scenes from Greek life. It is however hard to determine and probably not crucial that the scenes are from Greece as the images are much more about the people and moods they depict. Executed with pencil onto the insides of book covers with the actual pages removed the individual works give an insight in intimate family moments or bear witness to long bygone times reminiscent of a black and white photo album, or a silent documentary film.
Something very delicate and nostalgic is the leitmotif of these pieces. Once one opens the book it is nearly as if entering someone’s private space. As the depictions are partly fragmented, for instance we only see a hand or a women’s torso, less linear, associative and subconscious strands of narrative emerge. However, lined up on shelves and read together, the individual pictures are arranged in such a way that they suggest some kind of inherent, continuous narrative. Stories with different outcomes emerge in the viewer’s minds.
Beyond that, the titles accompanying the images range from funny to disturbing and socio-critically commenting, additionally adding to the confusion and the multitude of possible meanings. An image of a child lying on a beach with a bullion engraved HOME in his hand. The corresponding title is I’m not sleeping. I’m dreaming. Or a woman’s bare back in an empty bed with her head turned away entitled Too old to live Too young to die.
The play with reality and fiction is what makes these works on paper so interesting. We want to discover the secrets and narratives behind the images and come up with our own associations and interpretations as some settings are removed or exchanged and new sceneries adjoined.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
and I would see flowers through your eyes, 2013 (group show with Alex Hamilton)