The National Gallery - Alexandros Soutsos Museum joyfully invites the public to the exhibition "URBANOGRAPHY. Urban Life in the Decades 1950-1970," an original concept that explores three decades of rapid transformation in post-war Greece. The exhibition focuses on urbanization and the way people participate in or resist the new conditions imposed by the ever-changing environment. To trace the human experience of urban living, the exhibition brings together visual arts such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, installations, photography, drawings, and posters, along with excerpts from popular Greek cinema, critical realist films, and eccentric narratives.
Presenting 79 artists, 202 visual artworks, and 21 films, "URBANOGRAPHY" attempts to map out the entire spectrum of the concept of "urban experience," depicting the social subject within the cityscape with all the charm it can exert, as well as the limitations or exclusions that accompany it. "The exhibition's narrative constantly shifts from the macro to the micro scale, from panoramic shots to close-ups," explains Syrago Tsiara, director of the National Gallery - Alexandros Soutsos Museum and curator of the exhibition.
"The artists interpret the city not only as a structured environment that encompasses them but also as an everyday experience, a framework with which they are confronted, either in terms of recognition, security, and acceptance, or in terms of detection, negotiation, and conflict," adds Ms. Tsiara, referring to this historical and contemporary exhibition in a fluid, vibrant world that constantly presents challenges to its members – each one of us – calling for engagement with new data and the formation of positions and identities.
According to the curatorial rationale, after World War II, urbanization, reconstruction, and internal and external migration decisively shape the framework of rapid changes occurring in Greek society. The urban landscape undergoes radical transformation with the densification and gradual disappearance of detached houses. Everyday life changes with the spread of urban culture, the emergence of a spectacle and consumption society, and the new experiences offered by the city. The city becomes the quintessential field for identity formation for internal and external migrants, while scale, horizon, and perception change dramatically with the construction of apartment buildings and modern commercial establishments, road openings, the creation of squares, and the increased density of human and vehicular traffic. New relationships are formed between the metropolitan center, neighborhoods, suburbs, refugee neighborhoods, and unauthorized constructions outside the urban plan. While the average standard of living improves, new social divisions and exclusions simultaneously emerge.
The artists interpret the changes taking place in the urban landscape, anthropogeography, and the interconnection of the material and the living environment, past and present. Initially, nostalgia prevails, along with stereotypical or idealized narratives of a distinct urban identity that is distorted as the neoclassical houses are engulfed by construction. Meanwhile, art attempts to preserve the disappearing city. As artistic representations of urban transformation capture an intangible palimpsest of experiences and emotions in an imaginative coexistence of different eras, the artwork acquires a scenographic dimension. The city is invented as a stage, and the creators choose their perspective and compose the frame by drawing references from reality, memory, and desire. In the 1960s, the realistic intention of certain artists emerges, aiming to highlight the problems and contradictions of everyday life in the metropolis with a critical gaze. Towards the end of the historical period examined by the exhibition, materiality takes on a new meaning in the works of artists who conceptually explore the dimension of urban experience.
The exhibition "URBANOGRAPHY. Urban Life in the Decades 1950-1970" will be hosted from June 21, 2023, to March 3, 2024, at the Periodic Exhibitions Hall of the Central Building of the National Gallery. It includes 202 visual artworks, half of which are sourced from the National Gallery's Collection, while the rest are included in the exhibition through loans from public and private collections. The exhibition showcases 21 film screenings (excerpts from 17 feature films and 4 short films). It is structured into 7 sections titled: "Scenography," "Nostalgia," "Yuppie," "Close-up," "Spectacle," "Dreams and Conflicts," and "Materialities."
Additionally, the public program of parallel activities that will accompany the exhibition will soon be announced, including guided tours, educational programs, public events of theoretical and interdisciplinary nature, and more. The exhibition catalog will also be presented, featuring bilingual editions in Greek and English.
Artists: Ioannis Avramidis / Theodoros Angelopoulos / Theodoros Adamopoulos / Alekos Alexandrakis / Achilleas Apergis / Minos Argyrakis / Michalis Arfaras / Aginor Asteriadis / Georgios Bakirtzis / Spyros Vasileiou / Georgios Velissaridis / Loukas Venetoulias / Nikolaos Ventouras / Pantelis Voulgaris / Andreas Vourloumis / Yiannis Gaitis / Daniil Gounaridis / Gregory Gregoriou / Daniil (Panagopoulos) / Dinos Dimitris / Diamantis Diamantopoulos / Kleopatra Diga / Nikos Engonopoulos / Georgios Ioannou / Michalis Kakogiannis / Lefteris Kanakakis / Vlasis Kaniaris / Christos Kapralos / Niki Karagatsi / Stelios Kasimatis / Takis Katsoulidis / Nikos Kessanlis / Klearchos Konitsiotis / Dimitrios Kokkinidis / Alekos Kontopoulos / Alexandros Korogiannakis / Nikos Koundouros / Panos Koutroumbousis / Aristeia Kritsotaki / Georgios Lazogkas / Youlika Lakeridou / Konstantinos Malamos / Roveros Manthoulis / Georgios Manousakis / Tonia Marketaki / Fotis Mastichiadis / Dimitris Megalidis / Yiannis Migadis / Yiannis Michas / Yiannis Moralas / Chronis Botsoglou / Eva Bulghoura / Dimitris Mytaras / Nikos Nikolaidis / Ira Economidou / Kleanthis Pantias / Rena Papaspyrou / Yiorgos Paralis / Maria Plyta / Chrysa Romanou / Alekos Sakellarios / Yiorgos Scalidakis / Dimos (Demos) Skoulakis / Vasilis Sperantzas / Yiannis Spyropoulos / Aspa Stasinopoulou / Dimitris Stavrakas / Pavlos Tassios / Tassos (Alevizos Anastasios) / Panagiotis Tetsis / Yiorgos Tzavellas / Georgios Tougias / Yiannis Tsarouchis / Alekos Fasianos / Kostas Ferres / Dimitris Harisiadis / Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Gikas / Maria Chrousaki / Yiannis Psychopedis.