This August, Artereal Gallery is excited to present Materiality Υλικότητα 77 a solo exhibition and new installation by Yioryios Papayioryiou.
Yioryios Papayioryiou’s installation Materiality Υλικότητα 77 continues his engagement with the dynamics and experience of architectural space and his focus on the utilisation of the materials of industry for transition into art.
Now living in Athens within daily sight of The Parthenon and with a studio among the marine workshops and shipyards in the port precinct of Piraeus, he mines and adapts the materials of the local maritime industries for his art.
Silvery, mineral-coated, cloth-backed abrasive sanding-belt strips that are used for honing and fine-polishing shipping hulls and marine metal components, are adapted in the installation Materiality Υλικότητα 77 for a frieze evocative of architecture that is at once, ancient and of today.
The interaction of architecture and the body is at the essence of Yioryios Papayioryiou’s art.
His earliest sculptures, which he considers as three-dimensional paintings, were responses to the architectural voids of iconic Brutalist-style monumental buildings. These early works were physically moulded in malleable aluminium panel around the curves and contours of his neck, outer arm, thigh, or torso as responses to both the site and the sensory reaction of the body in architectural space.
While the convention within painting is to apply paint on the largest face of a canvas, Yioryios Papayioryiou perversely painted on the millimetre thin edges in resonant colour; emphasising that corporeal edge between body and space.
An art-residency in Greece led to a series of minimalist paintings with a razor-slit superficial central cut that allowed a thin pleat of rich underpainted colour – deep cadmium red, cadmium orange or cobalt blue, to physically push through the black-painted ground of the face of the canvas. The pleat device devolved from the finely- honed edges of the rises in the fluted marble columns of the ancient architectural edifice The Parthenon, which Papayioryiou had visited daily for the duration of his residency.
The artist found revelatory accord, for what had been his personal intuitive or innate response and reflected in his works, when he was introduced to Juhani Pallasmaa’s seminal publication on architecture, The Eyes of The Skin: Architecture and the Senses, (1996). “A good friend of mine was staying in an Athens apartment, where on the bookshelf he found “The Eyes of the Skin”. He read it, found another copy and gifted it to me. It was quite revolutionary and validatory for me and my practice.”
The tenet of Pallasmaa’s treatise lies in the significance of the human experience in architecture; the way spaces ‘feel’, and his emphasis of the weight of the tactile senses in relation to the often more privileged visual.
Yioryios Papayioryiou is New Zealand born to Greek parents and raised in Australia where he attended art school at The Australian National University and is now forging his international profile from Athens after relocating from Sydney in late 2019. Each day he sees the ancient Parthenon from his apartment’s large terrace and on his daily commute to and from his studio located among the maritime industrial workshops and shipyards. The studio’s location provides stimulus, fabricating resources and materials. Sheets and belts of abrasive sanding products for polishing hard metals like iron and steel and cleaning boat hulls have been utilized for recent paintings and now for the installation Materiality Υλικότητα 77 at Artereal.
Seventy-seven, the number of components in the Artereal installation, is an arbitrary number chosen for its visual elegance, its geometric angularity and symmetry – and as the artist’s nod to Donald Judd’s writings on the primacy of symmetry in architecture. That said, he also welcomes configuring versions of the installation for different numbers of components and locations, public and private.
The frieze in architecture is a horizontal panel or band used for decorative purposes. A frieze pattern repeats its components along a straight line and is enhanced by the play of light along its elements. The surface of the silvery, mineral-coated, cloth-backed sanding belts is like shark skin. It is covered in tangential lines of precision-engineered tooth-like sharp-pointed dermal denticles that reflect and refract light. Papayioryiou has adapted the reflective belts for a frieze and installation that is founded in the bodily frisson of engaging with, of physically entering and apprehending architectural space. A space, that in this instance is only minimally defined by its edge and notional frieze.
It is a macro room-scale installation, a progression from the artist’s smaller stand-alone objects and sustains his concerns with the phenomenology and experience of architectural space through articulating the interstices and surfaces forming the physical and sensory skin or edge.
Yioryios Papayioryiou’s work is held in significant collections including the Justin House Museum collection, the ANZ collection, the Price Waterhouse collection, the Crown Casino, the Elliot Eyes collection, The Milos Hotel, Athens and the Australian Embassy in Paris.
Barbara Dowse – Curator
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