DANIL | A Retrospective Selection of Works

12.05.2012 - 21.07.2012

Sketch on the exhibition "Three Propositions for a New Greek Sculpture", presented in 1964 at the foyer of the theatre La Fenice in Venice curated by Pierre Restany, with participating artists Danil, Vlassis Caniaris and Nikos Kessanlis. Left: work by Vlassis Caniaris, 1963. Center: four Black Boxes by Danil, 1961-'62. Up: Reconstruction-version of the Great White Gesture by Nikos Kessanlis in a smaller scale reconstructed by Tassos Koutsouris

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AD gallery presents a retrospective selection of works by Danil (Panagopoulos, 1924-2008) from the 60’s until the 90’s. Danil has claimed with all of his work a modernity which renegotiated selectively forms related to the Greek popular tradition and at the same time he participated actively and critically to the modernist movements of the 60’s and 70’s.

In the exhibition, four «black boxes» from the period 1961-1964 are being presented. These works act as a scene from the Italian outdoor puppet theatre giving the impression to the viewer that the puppeteer’s hand will pop out from inside*1. For Danil the black boxes’ space was occupied by shapes which expressed his memories from the troubled period that he experienced in Greece during the years of the German Occupation and of the Civil War. These boxes painted uniformly black, gutted so that their depth is evident, act as a monument of the industrial age. With the valuable help by the friend, art historian and art conservator Tasos Koutsouris and after the study of the archival material related to the historical exhibition Three Proposals for a new Greek Sculpture in 1964, these boxes are being presented together with a work of 1963 by Vlassis Caniaris and a reconstruction-version of the “Great White Gesture” by Nikos Kessanlis, as a single installation.

At the same space, we find blinking one of the electrical boxes that the artist began working in 1967 and completed it in 1968 after Paris, May ’68. Danil admitted the relation of the popular Shadow Theatre (Karagiozis) with his electrical boxes while analyzing the technic of their manufacture; the way he was using the cut-out  cardboard figures that he created and the light he was placing in the boxes behind them in order to obtain the narration. The electrical boxes, which have been presented in 1968 in Berlin at the exhibition The Greek Avant-guarde, curated by Christos Joakeimides, emerged from the artist’s discussions with Pierre Restany during the exhibition of his black boxes in 1964 at gallery “J”.

In the early 70’s and in the following years, Danil will be drawn away from New Realism and Restany, being interested in the Support-Surface movement. For the artists embracing this movement, painting is by itself a fact and the problems of the painting process should become evident by a clear stripping of all elements used for the construction of the work. Danil will return to painting choosing as his basic material the ochre burlap. The cutting and unstitching gesture in Danil’s work is not corresponding to the violent intervention of Fontana, but it aims to highlight the mental processes during the work’s manufacture and mainly the “unstitchings” allow for the energy of light to pass to the surface of the burlap creating a dualism, a fight between energy and matter, which resists by gradually absorbing the first.

In his last “burlaps” the painter deconstructs the Byzantine icons. It is no coincidence that at the end of the 80’s, he will handle works having as central theme the bright diagonal ladder that create counterpoints with Saint John of the Ladder and the Sinai tradition. Danil’s interest for the byzantine painting does not stem, of course, from a corresponding, strong religious faith and the equivalent metaphysics. He is led to the study of the image’s typology through his research for the attribution of the Spiritual in painting. Six of the most important works, created in a course of twenty years, from 1979 until 1997, are being displayed at the gallery’s first floor.

*1  Pierre Restany, L’homme est au coeur de la peinture, Paris 1986 

Duration: May 12 - July 21, 2012

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