Kostis Velonis / Part Company
The show is curated by Andrea Torreblanca
March 17 – April 28, 2016
Part Company, an exhibition by Greek artist Kostis Velonis in Casa Maauad, features a series of sculptures, paintings and a video created during the artists three-month residency in Mexico City.
Velonis' work evokes contradictory ideas through the use of simple materials. The artist approaches the history of 20th century sculpture through carefully designed responses in wood, plaster, brick and concrete.
Part Company combines antithetical approaches to community living and social participation by two distinct figures of Mexican Modernism, Greek-Mexican activist Plotino Rhodakanaty (1828-1892) and Mexican artist of German origin Mathias Goeritz (1915-1990). The exhibition adapts models of public sculptures by Goeritz and is informed by research on Rhodakanatys’ political concepts. It explores a broader context around social class, politics of sculpture, architecture and design, encompassing rather than isolating these two separate ideologies.
"To Part Company" means to end an association or relationship at the same point in time, and suggests a persistent tendency to reconcile a separation. Here, it functions as a need for conceptual reform against disassociation and fragmented knowledge.
In Part Company, Velonis re-evaluates Goeritz's principle of “Emotional Architecture” formulated in 1954, which became the aesthetic basis of his work.
The german aesthete defends the importance of the physical perception of space and the necessity for a sensual and tactile experience with the object. For Goeritz, the archetypal hero is the 'architect'. He believed the role of the artist is to reform and artificialize the natural, emphasizing three-dimensional, symbolical or inhabitable utopias. Velonis revisits Emotional Architecture through today's demythologizing of modern ideals by replacing Goeritz' s metaphysics with earthly and vulnerable constructions that draws inspiration from a variety of discarded materials usually debris
from the streets such as odd bits of wood in the city suburbs or scattered edifices in abandoned industrial and suburban areas.
Similarly, Rhodakanaty's ideas on working class emancipation, a worn-out term of 19th century ideals, seems to be in need for an updated interpretation in the current postwar market.
In Part Company, Rhodakanaty's anonymous peasant acts as an invented persona that replaces the eponymous citizen identified through cultural supremacy whilst Goeritz's geometrical applications are reversed to serve social experimentation rather than elitism.
The greek mexican anarchist maybe urging us to re-think with an ethical way some of the modernist formalistic trends also encountered in today's contemporary art production.
Understanding modernity's discourse through Goeritz's approach is an intriguing way to justify the rejection of memory (from collective to interpersonal relationships) and complements Rhodakanaty's ethics through which Goeritz cannot be restricted exclusively to the field of aesthetics, just as socialist narratives may not be solely perceived through a passive reception of a political message.
Velonis' construction materials remain raw—often unpainted pine boards or already painted boards placed alongside readymade unidentified objects. Brought together, these materials form models of un built monuments, constructed out of the sum of demolitions.
While the constructions draw from the vocabulary of modern sculpture, they also open onto narratives of a suburban if not rural environment, thereby defining a temporal condition prior and yet parallel to modernity. In broader terms, the practices of scavenging, DIY and bricolage offer experiences related to the cultivation of anonymous folk design, thus updating the forgotten qualities of the “autarky” of production. However, this coupling between the industrial designed item and its rural transformation seems to be more a result of the decaying optimistic financial model of the abundance of goods and less a nostalgia for the countryside.