CHS Visiting Artist | Georgios Xenos

Despite the limitations of COVID-19, the CHS continues to recognize and support artists in all media whose work engages with ancient Greek culture. Over the next six months, the CHS will share profiles of the 2020-2021 cohort of CHS visiting artists.

Georgios Xenos is painter and sculptor. He was born in Athens in 1953 and studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts- Section des Arts Plastiques in Paris from 1976–1982.

From 1983–1986 he lived and worked in Athens. In 1987 he lived and worked in Mönchengladbach, Germany. From 1988–1992 he lived and worked in Berlin, where he experienced the historical events of the Fall of Berlin’s Wall. During this period, he exhibited his work at the Winckelmann Museum, Stendal (June– October 1991) and the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (January– November 1992).

Since 1993 he has been living and working in Athens. Examples of his work may be found on his website, Instagram feed (@gxenosgr), and in video below.

Below are descriptions of his work by curators and museum directors around Greece.

Constantinos Papachristou, art historian and curator

This is, therefore, an eminently humanistic art, even if, in most cases, there is no physical human representation. Georgios Xenos passionately explores human traces in space and time and records the human imprint. The symbols and fragments that he so often uses are not the creations of a chance or automatic process. They are the result of a persistent and conscious cognitive and aesthetic process which reveals the existential angst associated with the recording and transmission of cultural creation from generation to generation. In the same way that writing– a frequent artistic and philosophical concern of the artist’s – is a sum of symbols, so too is the art of Xenos a dynamically organised whole in which fundamental components of human existence are condensed together. Whether with graphic symbols or with terabytes of information that are embedded in his work and accessible to the public through technology, the artist records information, sending a message of continuity through experience and knowledge.

Dr. Maria Lagogianni-Georgakarakos, Director of the National Archaeological Museum, Athens

In 2011, when I was director of the Epigraphic Museum of Athens, we unanimously accepted a proposal for an exhibition of works by Georgios Xenos entitled A Person’s Shadow is Their Culture.

The works exhibited at the Epigraphic Museum of Athens (which were presented with the respect befitting their coexistence in the same space as examples of ancient art and the dialogue between the two), dealt with traces, the image, writing and culture– themes that the artist has explored for decades. The evolution of the trace into an image created writing and inscription, impressing at the same time, information into memory.

Writing, as a timeless value, says the artist, with a central focus on human existence, develops a dialectic, taking the artistic product to its true dimension and significance. The glow of the trace, as a maximum possibility, coordinates gaze and thought, leaving a shadow on the myth, a signifier of culture.

The artist developed his themes on large surfaces, mainly on paper, working with acrylics and ink, materials that lend transparency and fluidity to his compositions.

The works, which were exhibited at the Epigraphic Museum of Athens, created with a contemporary visual perspective, developed a creative dialogue with the ancient Greek works existing in the space.

In 2016, as director of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, I worked once more with Xenos for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Museum.

Passers-by, an installation comprised of 150 iron outlines of human forms (200×80 cm. each), created in a contemporary visual style, was exhibited in front of the Museum, on its steps and peristyle, without compromising any of the Museum’s ancient masterpieces visually, aesthetically, or conceptually, and with the sensitivity demanded by such pairings.

The outlines, due to the themes of the group (the human being, traces, information, critical thought, and culture) and their significance in terms of human intellectual cultivation, acquire a symbolic dimension and create new traces of human presence and culture.

The work focuses on the handling, transmission, and transfer of information, creating new data on which the formation and evolution of societies is based.

Minimal and, at the same time, monumental, with the capacity to adapt to any exhibition space, the installation was set up with the respect required in this unique Museum, hinting at all its visitors, who have transmitted their knowledge and information worldwide.

The Passers-by are bearers of values across borders and nations and signal a reflection by continuing the dialogue between the past and the present, always looking to the future.

Dr. Pavlos Triantafyllidis, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lesbos

Within the framework of its cultural activities, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lesbos organized the exceptionally successful art exhibition of paintings and metal art installations by the renowned painter Georgios Xenos titled: Sailing through the Aegean – A Visual Requiem for the Mediterranean, which took place in August and September of 2016 in the temporary exhibition galleries of the New Archaeological Museum of Mytilene.

The sea, its music, its inner rhythm, its ancient languages, its impetus, and its eternal sighs have a dominant role in the major exhibition, as they are visually captured in the paintings of Georgios Xenos, which come as poems to stir the Mytilenean waters and to explore the moods of the Mother Sea…

Sailing the Aegean – A Visual Requiem for the Mediterranean is an iconic exhibition, “a work in progress which wraps around the whole Mediterranean and the Aegean in particular,” as Georgios Xenos states. Water, the dominant element centered on man and the unsurpassed combination of the element vital for the very breath and the survival of man and modern life, constitutes a tragic artistic view, an artistic intervention in a deeply realistic event, that of migration and forced displacement taking place in the water element. The sea is the cause of displacement of populations, of movement and dissemination of culture, of concern about the heraldic and contradictory attitude of human behaviours of individuals who pass through Lesbos in groups– a passage in search of a better solution and better luck, an endless and problematic process with contradictions and conflicts.