The Eye Altering gallery is pleased to present the exhibition of Fotios Balas’ “Et in Arcadia Ego”. The well-known Greek artist composes a temporal environment reapproaching the long art historical tradition of Arcadia for the first time.
Arcadia, the homeland of the god Pan, was perceived as a symbol of pastoral simplicity throughout history : a mountainous region, inhabited by a few shepherds, which in poetry and mythology takes on the connotations of an idyllic dream, a pristine state in which art and nature, and art and life, were one and knew no natural distinction. Later on, Arcadia became the collective dream of a generation of very rich nobles, who dreamed of a world of shepherds and peasants as never ended since they reserved the greatest contempt for the real peasants and shepherds of their lands since the life they led was in no way similar to the Arcadian dream. In the 17th century, Guercino and Poussin opposed the myth of Arcadia with two masterpieces that are steeped in art history. The heart of the message of this opposition is carved on the cippus of Poussin’s painting, which says: "Et in Arcadia ego" or "In Arcadia there is also me - death", to suggest that even in a paradise imagined or dreamed of by men, the confrontation with the impermanence of life is inevitable.
Balas - accustomed to rephrasing elevated, mythical notions - creates an environment that narrates the exact phased transition from bloom to decay that every living organism is inescapably subjected to. The artist constructs his own contemporary version of Arcadia, clutters up the gallery’s space with plants, herbs, and flowers, letting the viewer enter his bucolic realm that is ornately adorned with his masks and self-portraits that are suggestive of equivocal presences. Exposing this transience and ephemeral mashup for three weeks, he enables the vast maw of time to chew it up and spat the whole mess out as drying remnants of a dream. His hortus conclusus is not a womb that will bear any fruit, neither promises a paradise on earth. Balas’s exquisite walled garden is a memento mori in progress: if an onlooker visits it on the very first day, he/she will get just a glimpse of an outlandish garden; but if he/she becomes an observer, he/she will have the opportunity to experience the painful transition. Almost everything is decaying, everything but the artist: inserting himself through his self-portraits, the artist imposes his presence and permanence in contrast to the decomposing installation. Everything perishes but for the memory, and that is how Arcadia survived also.
Fotios Balas (b. Thessaloniki, Greece) currently lives and works in Athens. He obtained his degree in Fine Arts from the University of Western Macedonia. Since 2012, he has collaborated with Lola Nikolaou Art Gallery in Thessaloniki, Greece. He has participated in numerous art exhibitions in Greece and abroad and many of his artworks are in private collections. Denying the division between fine and applied arts, Balas creates artworks such as masks and headpieces that can be identified both as sculptures and as fashion items. This dual nature of his pieces is emphasized also through the several collaborations with fashion designers, perhaps the most important among them the 2020 Celia Kritharioti’s show at the British Museum, London.
Venue: 2, Paikou Str., 54625 Thessaloníki, Greece (see the map HERE)
Vernissage: May 27, 2022 at 19:00
Dates: May 27 - June 17, 2022
Visiting Hours: Wednesday & Saturday 11:00-15:00, Thursday & Friday 17:00-21:00