The Idle Fountain
Curated by Maria Stathi
28 February – 29 May 2020
Art Seen - Contemporary Art Project Space
66B Makarios Avenue
Photo Louca Studios
Art Seen is delighted to present Vicky Pericleous’ solo exhibition titled The Idle Fountain, curated
by Maria Stathi. The exhibition title is taken from Jorge Luis Borges’ poem ‘Elegia de un Parque’
(Elegy for a Park), from the collection ‘Los Conjurados’ (The Conspirators), of 1985.
The exhibition is staged around a series of speculative acts, activated towards a spatial and
temporal asynchronicity of hierarchies and narratives. Images and sites re-appear as
excesses –performed spectres of post-historical presences?– caught in a contemplative and
constant occurrence. An ever but not lasting return. In every return, appearances and
proximities differ, destabilizing the – delayed-gaze from the body, which continues to
perform in its temporal site. A situation, which might recall the experience of an after-
image? Triggered by excess light, the after-image remains, only for less than a second, in the
apparent –quasi– gaze that the nervous system produces, while the body is already
somewhere else. Could it be then, when experiencing an accentuating situation that the idle
gaze, shifts? Opening the possibility towards an-other synchronicity. Of returning in an
evocative elsewhere or towards a different mode of engaging with the world(s) and its means
of production. Is it not, after all that within these very means of production, certain
pathologies can be emerged or be sensed? This rupture emanates from a variant of
scenarios. Too much sun. The camera flash. In a Ballardian sense, the alluring blaze of an
Extracts from the artist’s notes
The exhibition highlights a series of tensions between narratives and contexts, while moving, neither
back nor forth, looking neither near nor far, but simultaneously, in images, spaces and sites in and
beyond the gallery space. Producing an overlapping of variant scenarios –and proximities– that could,
or not, extend in and out of each work. These spatio-temporal acts set up a suggestive system of
mobility across spaces and temporalities, as in a meta-geographical approach. The exhibition
examines not only these spaces and their representation, but also the space(s) produced between them.
The work The Eternal Return of the Sun (2020, industrial tiles, ceramics), draws on the architectural
forms of a geometrical pattern, which shapes the exterior floor space of what has been for years, one
of the most high-profile business centres of Nicosia, just off the gallery’s space. Fashioned in an early
90s style, as with many of the architectural buildings nearby, the floor is rescaled and reconfigured in
a new, site-responsive setting in the gallery space. Its curves are reversed on the walls, suggesting an
–abstracted– image of the Sun, rising or setting, which expands on the gallery floor in a geometrical
alignment. The image of what appears to be a modernist site of contemplation within the gallery
context, nods at the viewer, while leaving or entering the world outside the gallery walls and sets the
end-point or the horizon of the installation. An evocative –other– spatiality between the interior and
the exterior is nonetheless, caught in between.
Anti- model for a Future (2020, fibreglass, fake gypsum, fake-mosaic), a sculptural model of a 1930s
brutalist structure, which was demolished in the late 1970s, stands on a raised platform close to the
entrance of the space. This fragmental re-configuration –in scale and materials– follows a 2D and 3D
architectural (re)-drawing of a pool slide/ladder based on an archival image of it. The initial structure
stood in Casablanca’s municipal oceanic pool that was built in the rocks along the road to Ain Diab.
Art Seen – Contemporary Art Projects, 66B Makarios Avenue, 1077 Nicosia, Cyprus | t: +357 22006624 | www.art-seen.org
Once considered the longest Olympic size pool in the world, its seawater was renewed every day by
the movement of the tides and the help of a pumping station. It was part of a much wider modernist
complex of pools, under the name ‘Centre Balnéaire Georges Orthlieb’, (Bathing Centre ‘Georges
Orthlieb’). The Centre, a design by architect Maurice L’Herbier, was inaugurated on 14 July 1934 and
formed a major leisure and sports centre for the European elites and the Moroccans, within a colonial
setting; being, by all means, a captivating example of Casablanca’s post-World War I architecture
booming. Under the influence of European modernist’s architecture, followed by a mixture of
Americanised and international styles, this main port city and its shoreline, were led to what seemed,
as an accelerating economic and urban development. The name of the Centre was given after a French
chief administrator, Georges Orthlieb, a person described as passionate with physical education. His
passion was said to be further stressed by his sense of an imminent World War II; particularly as
Orthlieb is said to have origins from the area of Alsace- Lorraine, an area whose most of its territory
was passed by the German to the French under one of the treaties of the Peace of Westphalia. The
demolition of the complex gave rise to the Hassan II mosque, the second largest mosque in the world.
Pseudo-gypsum and pseudo-mosaic are applied on the model’s surfaces, following local architectural
structures, as well as model-casting materials; re-defining both its sculptural sense and its readings. It
expands from the platform into the rest of the installation space, in an almost, overpowering gesture.
Blurring –further– the spatial and contextual sovereignty of each work. Moving the gaze towards a
fluidity of readings and a wider –historical– analogies.
In ‘Exercises on Elasticity’, (2017-ongoing), Proposition ΙI (2017, collage, c-print, pen, acrylic
paint), Proposition ΙΙΙ (2020, collage, c-print, gold leaf paint), Proposition IV (2020, collage, c-
print, acrylic paint), Proposition V (2020, collage, c-print, fibreglass, pseudo-mosaic), images found
in the artist’s archival collection of a late 1960’s Greek Geographic Encyclopaedias, are re-proposed
in anew, spatial representations. In a series of speculative processes, the images are re-composed in
studio-photographing settings, and then re-worked in collage only to be photographed again. In what
appear as minor gestures, new proximities are set in respect to the initial images and their contexts;
extending towards –other– potentialities in how we look at –these– images today.
The work Casa (2020, coloured pencils, pastels on paper) –the Latin word for ‘house– follows the
spatial representation of an archival image; that of a leisure day in the oceanic water pool of
Casablanca. The brutalist construction of a slide/ladder that appears in the work is already presented
as a sculptural model at the ground floor. A dazzling light overpowers and abstracts further the whole
scene. A small figure can be slightly viewed at the end of the structure in an uninhabited space. A
double afterimage? Of what could be an image caught in the eyes by the burning sunlight or that
caught by the gaze of the imaginary? A return not to the mere ruin itself, but perhaps to a wider
repetitive –historical- pattern that could be implied.
Idle Fountain (2020, clay, stones, ceramic tiles). A stone, found in Paramali beach (known as the
Turtle beach), a product of a spatio-temporal interaction of nature with other, non-human organisms,
–or is it, on a closer look, a burnt-clay brick?– is taken out of the artist’s collection and re-modelled
anew, following its forms. This, results to a seemingly gestural abstraction of the found object.
Nonetheless, in this minimum of task, the second object seems to be-coming imperative, as another
–fragmental– construct of the show and its suggestive narratives.
In The Image’s Tail (2020, two channel video, sound) a re-assemblage of archival videos of the
artist’s various occurrences with and within different environments, while travelling across her
homeland, is presented not in the actual gallery space but on the gallery’s website during the
exhibition dates. On one of the screens, the window of a Turkish-Cypriot building in Paphos, now
used as an office by a Greek Cypriot, flickers its lights from time to time. The shape of the windows
recalls the floor pattern outside the gallery and the pattern of the abstracted sun inside its space. On
the second screen, a flow of various spaces are presented, from near the gallery space (a building
façade with a pseudo-modernist exterior ladder, the business centre under which the geometrical floor
patterns exists), or from across the island (a swimming pool hidden in the mountains, a rundown
structure along a water pond in the winter forest, a seafront scenery of a beach town, a 1960s fountain
that was never used). All these, are repetitively interrupted by scenes of a peacock moving on the roof
of a house in a rural village of Cyprus, which the artist happened to stumble across. While moving
Art Seen – Contemporary Art Projects, 66B Makarios Avenue, 1077 Nicosia, Cyprus | t: +357 22006624 | www.art-seen.org towards the imaginary, these spaces converse in errant manners to the works presented in the gallery, setting a different trajectory of possible narratives.
The exhibition is made possible under the close collaboration and support of architect Eleni Loizou, for the architectural drawings of model / architectural drawings of installation (2D & 3D) of Anti- model for a Future, 2020, the architectural drawings of the installation and the supervision of The Eternal Return of the Sun,2020
and her constant feedback throughout the exhibition preparation and installation, ceramists Vasos Demitriou and Eleftheria Demitriou for making possible the ceramic work of ‘The Eternal Return of the Sun’, 2020, and
director Panagiotis Charalambous for the audio-visual support of the work ‘The Image’s Tail’, 2020.
Vicky Pericleous is a visual artist and assistant professor at Frederick University, in Cyprus.
She has studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, Wimbledon School of Art, London,
and the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. Pericleous’ work investigates her interest in
examining and producing images where environments, gestures and encounters oscillate
between the familiar and the alien, the ruin and the model, and notions of the near and far, in
respect to postcolonial situations and geographical and cultural imaginaries. The idea of the
fragment as well as spatiotemporal proximities and speculations are negotiated throughout
her artistic oeuvre.
Her work has shown in exhibitions at various international venues including Espace
Commines, Paris, Hasselblad Foundation in Gothenburg, Zahoor Ul Akhlaq Gallery of
the National College of Arts, Lahore, Multiplied Art Fair, Christie’s, London as well as in
various private galleries abroad. She has also exhibited in Evagoras Lanitis Centre,
Limassol, and NiMAC –Municipal Art Centre, Omikron Gallery, Art Seen, Bank of Cyprus
Cultural Foundation, amongst others, all in Nicosia. Pericleous exhibited in Monodrome, the
3rd Athens Biennale, and at Sanat Limani, as part of the European Capital of Culture
Istanbul 2010. She has initiated and participated in the international visual-research project
“Uncovered: Nicosia International Airport,” 2010-13. She has been an active member of the
Noise of Coincidence Art Group, an international art group/platform that has organised
several exhibitions, actions, happenings and talks in Cyprus and abroad.