Despina Charitonidi at eins gallery / Limassol

Despina Charitonidi / The Day Before The Western Wind

31.3 - 15.5 2023

eins gallery
28 Themidos
3036 Limassol, Cyprus


“Climate catastrophe is like weather: everywhere and always, the lifeworld made sensible.” 


The day before the western wind is Despina Charitonidi’s first solo exhibition in Cyprus and to date. Within the gallery space, the artist creates an environment that reflects on ideas of beauty and destruction, life and death, presenting the seen and unseen natural and artificial mechanisms that motivate human actions and have prompted the climate catastrophe. Her poetic installation combines painting, sculpture, and performative elements that come together to form a critique of the climate emergency and how it was caused by humans.

In the Anthropocene era—in which humans have become geological agents, changing the physical processes of the earth— a time of climate change and chaos, a time of late capitalism, global pandemic, and extreme urbanisation, humans have experienced subsequent disasters with unprecedented results and long, significant grief for the loss of natural environments and human lives. In The day before the western wind, Charitonidi presents a new body of work continuing her focus on nature, human intervention, and the game of power between man and nature. Notions of balance and power in the time of climate change are presented to the viewer in the context of a post-apocalyptic environment with a floral landscape made of black clay combined with found materials, collected in the aftermath the major fire in 2018 in Mati, Attica, the deadliest urban fire in the history of modern Greece.

Charitonidi transforms pieces of cars that have been burned in the fire into a forest that grows (or decays) from a series of canvases laid on the floor. Artworks and visitors are exposed to UV lights that gradually transform the surfaces of the blank canvases which have been treated with photosensitive chemicals, changing the canvases. By doing this,  she positions the process at the centre of the exhibition, affecting and transforming the visitors’ experience. It is a decision that both reveals the artistic process – making it part of the show rather than some invisible effort that precedes it – while simultaneously exposing the visitor directly to the threat and danger of the UV light, bringing the harm of climate change to the forefront of the project. In the gallery’s courtyard, two half-moon sculptures lead the visitors toward the main installation, attempting to alert them to what they are about to encounter. A crystal sculpture on the exterior wall presents the fluidity and the fragility of human nature and of our natural environment.

Over the past few years, Charitonidi has developed a distinctive personal artistic language that transforms elements found in construction sites and other places through a process of examination of and experimentation with their properties. The resulting sculptural gestures reconsider the environmental impact of human action. She constructs a world made of earth and ashes commemorating nature and expresses her personal preoccupation with the environment, inviting viewers to reflect on our climate's future.