The artist residency program ‘Thermia Project’ presents the contemporary art exhibition CARING/CARRYING LANDSCAPES with participating artists Ioanna Limniou, Paky Vlassopoulou, Aristeidis Lappas, curated by Odette Kouzou. The residency art program Thermia Project was implemented for the second consecutive year on the island of Kythnos, also locally referred to as ‘Thermia’.
During their stay on the island, the artists created works inspired by their observations and interactions with the natural and cultural landscapes of Kythnos - drystone walls, folklore songs, traditional tales, domestic animals, the flora and fauna. The narrative quality of the works reveal stories about relationships encountered in everyday life on the island, within a context of care, which encompasses care for the land, animals, home, family, and even caring for the stone itself.
The artists observe the colours and textures of the landscape, the meteorological phenomena like temperature changes, the sounds one hears throughout the course of a day, the rhythms of life in the surrounding natural habitat. A profound connection between everyday life and agricultural practices emerges - elements and “spirits” that imbue the landscape with metaphysical, or even supernatural qualities. Navigating the blurred boundaries between materialities, living beings, and narratives, the artists rearticulate how we might perceive the notion of landscape.
Paky Vlassopoulou’s works relate to practices for the prosperity of the “oikos” and the community of bees, the economy of household, and the ways in which humans and bees communicate. The inspiration stems from a mediaeval British custom, called “telling the bees”, in which the family calls upon a beekeeper to inform the bees about the death of a family member, building a relationship of involving the bees in the mourning process. According to this ceremony, the grieving bees assist the passing of the dead to the “other side”, while offering a generous harvest of honey to the family. On the other hand, the bees that have not been told the news, cease to produce honey, or leave the beehive, or even suffer a collective death. Vlassopoulou is inspired by the traditional ceramic beehives in the shape of a cone, reminiscent also to thimbles, and hand-made roof tiles which, when placed across each other hint to the form of a beehive, thus connecting the concept of ‘protection’ with ‘residence’, ‘community’, and who has access to it.
Her terracotta sculptures bear strong references to the xerolithic landscape of Kythnos, recalling the way in which the stones are arranged in the stonewalls. She is interested in stonewall both as a construction and as a cultural object, and is informed by her broader research into the concepts of 'care', the ‘familiar/domestic’, and 'dwelling', whether in a building or the body itself. The size of the sculptures is noticeably smaller than the size of a stonewall, almost representing a miniature. However, the small scale of the sculptures is not supposed to act as an architectural model, but as an attempt by Vlassopoulou to "frame" landscape through sculpture.
Ioanna Limniou is emotionally involved with the landscape and the "scenes" enacted in it, with her works carrying a strong narrative quality. The relationship between human and animal is at the forefront, rendered through naif painting. Limniou complicates the limits of how we perceive human and animal, while simultaneously implying a journey towards exploring ‘the self’, only discovering that one has been carrying themselves on their back the whole time. The relationships developing between living beings in their natural environment, between humans and domestic animals, the repetitive practices of everyday life, are depicted with a sense of nostalgia and humour.
Limniou cites a place of the past which is however in close proximity to the present, almost timeless, as are the figures we encounter in it. The works carry an apparent “lightheartedness”, which is quickly subversed, revealing the blurred boundaries between human and animal, the search for the meaning of "self", as well as the "weight" of this mental ordeal.
Aristeidis Lappas views and presents the landscape through a scenographic gaze. Influenced by the colours and materiality he encounters, as well as by the traditional folk songs of the island, his works are rendered almost like illustrations of the landscapes, in which these songs and fairy tales take place. The earthy element of the stone, the rustling of the reeds, the diversity of the low vegetation, as well as the strong summer sunlight, appear in his paintings with intense colours and textures. The protagonists of his scenographic landscapes are the natural elements, but also the invisible "elementals”, creatures hidden in fairy tales and folk narratives, implying a metaphysical character both in the landscape and in the ways in which we perceive it.
The artist residency program Thermia Project for 2023 and the art exhibition CARING/CARRYING LANDSCAPES curated by its founder Odette Kouzou was supported by Aphrodite Gonou.
Participating Artists: Ioanna Limniou, Paky Vlassopoulou, Aristeidis Lappas
Location: Primary School of Chora, Kythnos, Cyclades
Dates: 17 - 25 August 2023
Media Sponsor Kosmos 93.6, ERT N. Aegean
Travel Sponsor Triton Ferries
In kind support of Municipality of Kythnos
Thermia Project participated in Art Athina 2023 with a solo presentation by artist Ioanna Limniou, showing works that have been produced during her residency in Kythnos island.
Dates: 14 - 17 September 2023
Venue: Zappeion Mansion
Thermia Project Booth: C2