Ithaca at Museum St / London

Ithaca

Christopher Aque, Alekos Fassianos, Luigi Ghirri, Jessie Stevenson, George Tourkovasilis

16th November 2023 – 17th February 2024

Museum St | 43 Museum St, London, WC1A 1LY
Installation view, Ithaca, Herald St | Museum St, London, 2023.

Photo: Jackson White

From left to right:

Jessie Stevenson
Into a gradual calm the breezes sink
2023
Oil on linen
120 x 85 cm / 47.2 x 33.5 in
HS19-JS8500P

Courtesy of the artist and Herald St, London. 


Luigi Ghirri
Capri (Serie: Paesaggio Italiano)
1982
C-print, vintage
20.7 x 30.5 cm / 8.1 x 12 in, unframed
41.5 x 51.2 x 3 cm / 16.3 x 20.2 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-LG8504F

Courtesy of Archivio Luigi Ghirri, Reggio Emilia; Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich; and Herald St, London. 


Alekos Fassianos
Untitled
c.1975
Oil on canvas
92.4 x 96.5 cm / 36.4 x 38, unframed
95 x 99.4 x 3 cm / 37.4 x 39.1 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-AF8485P

Courtesy of Alekos Fassianos Estate, Athens; and Herald St, London.


George Tourkovasilis
Untitled
1975
Gelatin silver print
12 x 8 cm / 4.7 x 3.1 in, unframed
51 x 38 x 3.2 cm / 20.1 x 15 x 1.3 in, framed
HS19-GT8495F

Courtesy of George Tourkovasilis Εstate, Athens; Radio Athènes, Athens; Melas Martinos, Athens; Akwa Ibom, Athens; and Herald St, London.


Alekos Fassianos
Nuit des rêves
1989
Oil on canvas
38 x 25.4 cm / 15 x 10 in
HS19-AF8492P

Courtesy of Alekos Fassianos Estate, Athens; and Herald St, London.
Installation view, Ithaca, Herald St | Museum St, London, 2023.

Photo: Jackson White

From left to right:

Luigi Ghirri
Capri (Serie: Paesaggio Italiano)
1982
C-print, vintage
20.7 x 30.5 cm / 8.1 x 12 in, unframed
41.5 x 51.2 x 3 cm / 16.3 x 20.2 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-LG8504F

Courtesy of Archivio Luigi Ghirri, Reggio Emilia; Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich; and Herald St, London. 


Jessie Stevenson
To call from other worlds the wilder'd mind
2023
Oil on linen
180 x 100 cm / 70.9 x 39.4 in
HS19-JS8499P

Courtesy of the artist and Herald St, London. 
Installation view, Ithaca, Herald St | Museum St, London, 2023.

Photo: Jackson White

From left to right:

Alekos Fassianos
Ονειρεύεται αρχαία τοπία (En rêvant de paysages anciens)
1995
Oil on paper laid on canvas, artist’s frame
42.5 x 31 x 3 cm / 16.7 x 12.2 x 1.2 in
HS19-AF8489P

Courtesy of the artist and Herald St, London. 


Christopher Aque
Growth (Hydrangea)
2023
Gum bichromate print on paper, artist’s frame
52 x 38.5 x 3.6 cm / 20.5 x 15.2 x 1.4 in
Edition 2/3 + 1AP
HS19-CA8484F

Courtesy of Christopher Aque; Sweetwater, Berlin; and Herald St, London.


Christopher Aque
Civic (Tram)
2022
Gum bichromate print on paper, artist’s frame
52 x 38.5 x 3.6 cm / 20.5 x 15.2 x 1.4 in
Edition 1/3 + 1AP
HS19-CA8482F

Courtesy of Christopher Aque; Sweetwater, Berlin; and Herald St, London.


Christopher Aque
Growth (Thicket)
2022
Gum bichromate print on paper, artist’s frame
52 x 38.5 x 3.6 cm / 20.5 x 15.2 x 1.4 in
Edition 1/3 + 1AP
HS19-CA8483F

Courtesy of Christopher Aque; Sweetwater, Berlin; and Herald St, London.
Installation view, Ithaca, Herald St | Museum St, London, 2023.

Photo: Jackson White

From left to right:

George Tourkovasilis
Untitled
1975
Gelatin silver print
12.5 x 9 cm / 4.9 x 3.5 in, unframed
51 x 38 x 3.2 cm / 20.1 x 15 x 1.3 in, framed
HS19-GT8494F

Courtesy of George Tourkovasilis Εstate, Athens; Radio Athènes, Athens; Melas Martinos, Athens; Akwa Ibom, Athens; and Herald St, London.


George Tourkovasilis
Untitled
n.d.
Silver gelatin print
12.5 x 8.5 cm / 4.9 x 3.3 in, unframed
51 x 38 x 3.2 cm / 20.1 x 15 x 1.3 in, framed
HS19-GT8497F

Courtesy of George Tourkovasilis Εstate, Athens; Radio Athènes, Athens; Melas Martinos, Athens; Akwa Ibom, Athens; and Herald St, London.

Installation view, Ithaca, Herald St | Museum St, London, 2023.

Photo: Jackson White

Alekos Fassianos
Untitled
c.1975
Oil on canvas
92.4 x 96.5 cm / 36.4 x 38, unframed
95 x 99.4 x 3 cm / 37.4 x 39.1 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-AF8485P

Courtesy of Alekos Fassianos Estate, Athens; and Herald St, London.


Luigi Ghirri
Marina di Ravenna (Serie: Italia ailati)
1972
C-print, vintage
11.8 x 17.2 cm / 4.6 x 6.8 in, unframed
41.5 x 51.5 x 3 cm / 16.3 x 20.3 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-LG8503F

Courtesy of Archivio Luigi Ghirri, Reggio Emilia; Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich; and Herald St, London. 
Installation view, Ithaca, Herald St | Museum St, London, 2023.

Photo: Jackson White

From left to right:

Alekos Fassianos
Untitled
c.1975
Oil on canvas
92.4 x 96.5 cm / 36.4 x 38, unframed
95 x 99.4 x 3 cm / 37.4 x 39.1 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-AF8485P

Courtesy of Alekos Fassianos Estate, Athens; and Herald St, London.


Luigi Ghirri
Marina di Ravenna (Serie: Italia ailati)
1972
C-print, vintage
11.8 x 17.2 cm / 4.6 x 6.8 in, unframed
41.5 x 51.5 x 3 cm / 16.3 x 20.3 x 1.2 in, framed
HS19-LG8503F

Courtesy of Archivio Luigi Ghirri, Reggio Emilia; Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich; and Herald St, London.





As you set out bound for Ithaca,

hope that the journey is a long one,

full of adventures, full of learning.

Herald St is delighted to announce Ithaca, featuring paintings and photographs by Christopher Aque, Alekos Fassianos, Luigi Ghirri, Jessie Stevenson, and George Tourkovasilis. Taking place in the gallery’s Museum St premises, the exhibition stems from C. P. Cavafy’s 1911 poem of the same name, a verse suffused with heady and emotive experiences of journeys, homecomings, myths, and wonder. The enduring atmospheres and lessons of this beloved poem resonate in the vivid and intimate works by these international artists active from the mid-twentieth century to today.


Of the Laestrygonians and Cyclopes,

of wrathful Poseidon have no fear,

you’ll never meet suchlike on your journey,

if your thoughts remain lofty, if noble

sentiments grip your body and spirit.

Cavafy’s presence in modern Greece cannot be overstated, and his influence is palpable in a number of paintings on canvas and paper by Alekos Fassianos. In his vibrant and multifaceted output, the artist mythologised the quotidian, taking the ancients gods and Byzantine icons of his childhood and imbuing café goers, cyclists, and flaneurs with the same reverence. Fassianos lived in Paris for a period of time from the 1960s and travelled extensively, yet Athens always remained close in his mind: ‘The legend of my neighbourhood will follow me everywhere, like Cavafy’s city... I suggest to all Greeks that they read the Odyssey two or three times as if it were the gospel.’ In pieces such as τό τοπίο του (Son paysage), he embraces the idea of o φερων την πολη, which loosely translates to ‘he who brings his home wherever he goes’. Another prevalent theme in Fassianos’s work is the dreamer, with memories of their homelands floating behind their gazing faces and bodies. Throughout his career he illustrated multiple publications authored by Cavafy, including French and Italian translations on display in the exhibition.


You’ll never encounter raging Poseidon,

Laestrygonians and Cyclopes,

unless you bear them in your soul,

unless your soul sets them before you.

Jessie Stevenson’s abstracted landscape paintings are borne from a sublime return to nature upon moving to her familial home in North Norfolk during the pandemic. Following a childhood living in Istanbul, Moscow, Cairo, Geneva, and Guangzhou, she was struck by the sharp nostalgia of the wild growths and marshlands she encountered. Stevenson draws from canonical sources including Wordsworth’s poetry, Goya’s mordant etchings, and Twombly’s turbulent gestures to inform the materials and movement in her layered canvases. She is increasingly studying the coastline, transmuting the energy of blinding reflections, shifting climes, and rolling stormscapes. Ithaca also includes a sketchbook of ‘colour beginnings’ which root her practice, saturated with fluid experiences and ghost-lines of instinctive marks.


Hope that the journey is a long one.

That the summer morns be many

when with what delight, what joy

you enter harbours hitherto unseen;

Luigi Ghirri’s photographs are soaked in the hazy light of an endless summer. The artist rarely travelled far from Emilia-Romagna, finding ‘new landscapes’ in the everyday realities close to home. Ithaca includes works from two series, Italia ailati and Paesaggio Italiano. In the former (a palindromic play on words), Ghirri constructed scenes which lie in contrast to the postcard-perfect sites found in guidebooks and travel posters, framing urban palimpsests such as pedestrian signs and advertisement panels to form compositions which sit closer to his ‘territorial identity’. Of Paesaggio Italiano, he described a ‘sentimental geography’: ‘I have viewed these places with a gaze full of affection and love, in an attempt to perceive a simple and astonished feeling of belonging’. Anchored in the deeply familiar landscapes of his surroundings, Ghirri dedicated his work to capturing the real world, and in the process exposing the limits of our individual perceptions which render such a dream impossible.


that you stop in the Phoenician markets,

and acquire fine merchandise,

nacre and coral, amber and ebony,

and all kinds of heady perfumes,

as many heady perfumes as you can;

Christopher Aque’s carefully encased photographs show skylines rising out of overgrown parks, flowers tended by his partner, and the closeness of strangers on public transport. His practice embodies the eros which seeps, like leaves growing through cracks in pavements, in anonymous and sterile civic structures. Each work is meticulously printed using gum-bichromate, a labour of love resulting in softly blurred images composed of watercolour pigments. Part of this process involves exposure to germicidal UV-C lights, which can also be found in hospitals and were used in sanitation programmes during the pandemic. Living in the urban mass of New York, Aque draws us into the pockets of intimacy and tensions of desire encountered at home and on everyday journeys.


Always keep Ithaca in mind.

To arrive there is your destination.

But in no way rush the voyage.

Like Fassianos, George Tourkovasilis moved to Paris in the late 1960s to escape the oppressive Greek junta, and the two became close friends. Though he credited his photographic education to the American and wider European influence found in the French capital, he returned to Greece in 1976 and prolifically recorded the emerging subcultures of the subsequent decades until his death in 2021. His portraits included in Ithaca depict young men prior to fulfilling their required military service, basking in the last rays of their youth and filled with an anti-Odyssean anguish to delay their adulthood. One photograph shows an unnamed friend pressing a cat to her cheek and smiling with familiar affection; a vernacular and homely snapshot, with a studied attention to light and framing. Intimate in size as well as in subject, the images Tourkovasilis left behind hold a particular moment in time and simultaneously exude an enduring timelessness.


Ithaca gave you the wonderful voyage.

Without her you would not have set out on your way.

Yet she has nothing more to give you.

And though you may find her wanting, Ithaca has not deceived you.

Wise as you’ve become, with such experience,

Already you’ll have understood what these Ithacas mean.


Text by Émilie Streiff


Extracts from C. P. Cavafy, Ithaca (1911)

Quotations from Alekos Fassianos courtesy of Viktoria Fassianou

Quotations from Luigi Ghirri: The Complete Essays 1973–1991, MACK (2021)