Sous le paveés de parquet, mixed media, 110x60x4, 2019-20

Sous le paveés de parquet,
mixed media,
110x60x4,
2019-20

“To drown in the abyss – heaven or hell, Who cares? Through the unknown, we’ll find the new.”

Charles Baudelaire, “The Flowers of Evil”, translated by Robert Lowell (1963).

The solo exhibition of Andreas Vousouras titled Passé constitutes a natural development of a longstanding exploration concerning the relationship between the individual and society, which has been of interest to the artist for some time. More specifically, it forms part of an attempt at a broader conversation between personal experiences and public life. This exhibition is the most appropriate conclusion to a cycle of art works that address this issue, which first started with his (unsuccessful, according to him) debut solo exhibition at ZM gallery in Thessaloniki, in early 1984. This exhibition is a chance for the artist to reshuffle the deck and look upon things differently, thus recommence the dialogue between personal and public myth. Vousouras has two main reasons for doing this.

Athanasia, mixed media, 42x32, 2019-20

Athanasia,
mixed media,
42x32,
2019-20

The first one concerns the artist’s recent return to his family home, a neoclassical building in the old Athenian neighborhood of Patisia. This return to old roots, greatly charged with symbolic meaning, designates the completion of yet another cycle that began in childhood and ends today, with the reconciliation of the ghosts of the past, present and future. The second reason emerges through the artist's constant dialogue with his origins and their association with the French Revolution and the Age of European Enlightenment, of which he considers himself a descendant, but also the melancholy over the failure of the May ‘68 vision. At the heart of this conversation between past and present, lies the oxymoron of the French uprising: on the one hand the subsequent restoration of the status quo and on the other the present degradation of the bourgeoisie into a class of pariahs.

Keep Walking, mixed media, 20x15, 2019-20

Keep Walking,
mixed media,
20x15,
2019-20

Confronted with the destruction of the historical context within which the May ‘68 movement emerged and the subsequent collapse of his own spiritual and social values and ideals, Vousouras examines, through artistic creation, the gradual fragmentation of his own world concept. Originally based on his personal mythology formed in childhood and adolescence, it later matured during the ‘60s and came to an inevitable and definitive rupture with the dictates of reality in his later years. In this context, are included works like the photo installation he used in his first solo exhibition in Thessaloniki, showing the artist posing with a makeshift facemask made out of work shoes. Now, these ‘youthful’ photographs are organised in a decorated frieze accompanied by the phrase ‘We are living our unfinished adventures, like lost children’ from Guy Debord’s 1952 movie Howling for Sade (Hurlements en faveur de Sade). The downfall of the artist’s mythology, always present in his work in the form of criticism against the conventions of a crumbling society, is reflected in the pessimism of today.

Les Invalides, mixed media, 174x160x55, 2019-20

Les Invalides,
mixed media,
174x160x55,
2019-20

Vousouras uses sarcasm to express the afflictions on world freedom. Thusly, he reveals the remnant state of the bourgeoisie. Stripped of its hypocrisy and fake happiness, having demonstrated its inability to stand up to the ideals it once embodied, it now faces its imminent demise and must defend itself in the present and future. The memories of our past are represented in the form of tin cans –expired industrial products- which the artist covers with photographs of May ’68 or kitsch carte-postale of the 1960s showing a carefree European society that will never be again. Through repeated use of the tricolor -red-white-blue, reminiscent of the French flag, and combined with photographs of young couples kissing on Parisian streets in front of the puzzled eyes of elderly people, Vousouras refers to the revolutionary momentum of love, as an intrinsic element of May ’68.

Black Holesun, mixed media, 75x50, 2019-20

Black Holesun,
mixed media,
75x50,
2019-20

Commenting on today’s capitalism, always with a touch of irony, Vousouras, a product of the bourgeoisie, creates large YESs by pasting the symbols of the yen, euro and dollar along with syringe needles on tricolor melamine wood. This confirms everything that capitalism has accomplished and all the damage it can still do. In another work, consisting of a box lined with pieces of parquet and a pasted photograph of French police officers hidden behind a stack of bricks, Vousouras changed the classic May ’68 slogan from ‘Under the pavement is the beach’ to ‘Under the pavement is the parquet’. Cynicism and pessimism coexist in his work, with one leading quite naturally to the other.

Fall in Beijing, mixed media, 113x162, 2019-20

Fall in Beijing,
mixed media,
113x162,
2019-20

The hybrid nature of Vousuras’ works unfolds on multiple levels. Their style together with the materials he uses, which he found in his home in Patisia and the surrounding area, eradicate all hierarchies, giving each different element equal value. The appropriation of objects trouvés in Vousouras’ work constitutes expressions, narrations and interpretations of a personal world, which examines the international contemporary political and social scene. This has been a dominant element in the artist’s lifelong artistic course. Within the works of this exhibition, all unfulfilled dreams of the past coexist harmoniously. These are the dreams that fatefully coincided with the rupture between modern society and its historicity, the uncertain present and the confrontation with a future that seems to lead, once again, to an impasse.

Ianos, mixed media, 103x157, 2019-20

Ianos,
mixed media,
103x157,
2019-20

Passé, mixed media, 56,5x44, 2019-20

Passé,
mixed media,
56,5x44,
2019-20

Frankenstein Jr, mixed media, 53x33, 2019-20

Frankenstein Jr,
mixed media,
53x33,
2019-20

Bourgeois blues, mixed media, 81x70, 2019-20

Bourgeois blues,
mixed media,
81x70,
2019-20

Untitled, mixed media, 42x32, 2019-20

Untitled,
mixed media,
42x32,
2019-20

Letter to Jimmie Durham I, mixed media, 50x52, 2019-20

Letter to Jimmie Durham I,
mixed media,
50x52,
2019-20

Letter to Jimmie Durham II, mixed media, 48x50, 2019-20

Letter to Jimmie Durham II,
mixed media,
48x50,
2019-20

Dynasty, mixed media, 52x50, 2019-20

Dynasty,
mixed media,
52x50,
2019-20