A conversation with Christos Venetis in FUKT Magazine #15
The World is a book
Can you tell me about the choice of using the inside cover of ripped books?
“I usually use surfaces of objects that a had past life or a different use. The “symbolism” of the book is more or less familiar, while the torn pages convey a sense of loss, a wound. This series of drawings could be titled Liber Mundi / Imago Mundi. The term “Liber mundi” (the world as a book) suggests the idea of wholeness or, at least, the desire, the craving for wholeness. It is a medieval idea that continued with the Enlightenment Encyclopedia and the full use of written speech. However, it is a known fact that our time is defined by the domination of the image. It is a whole comprised of fragments of two different communication systems.”
How important is the narration in your work?
“Reality itself is a product of narration. The dominant discourse conceals its ficitonal nature and artists acting in this field, either deconstruct this “construct” or reality or narrate alternative stories. However, it is the viewer who completes the narration. So the stories exist within other stories. I believe there is no such thing as an original experience, which is why I use found images to create my own narration.”…
Thoughts on Christos Venetis
My first impression of his drawings in the torn books was one of shock. A form of vandalism that reminded me of the disastrous burning of books by the Nazis in front of the National Library in Berlin. Creating an image at the expense of text—for me, utterly unacceptable. My thoughts gradually wandered to the artist and to the possibility that this very destruction might serve as a reminder of the historical betrayal of civilization. In any case, the effect of the image is amplified and placed in conceptual confrontation with the torn-out pages of text. My thoughts now went further back to the conflict of image and text that had spanned numerous centuries. In the beginning, there was the image; and the word was spread orally. The image eventually became a sacred icon. It was not until circa 600 BCE that the poet Sappho could also pass her poems on to posterity in written form. With monotheism, text also became sacred. Now God himself wrote. Both media competed with each other. And image and text were both sacred, which eventually led to aniconism and iconoclasm, the sacral prohibition of images. In the meantime, however, the image has triumphed on all levels and profoundly influences our lives.
With the works of Christos Venetis, this conflict once again gains in topicality. I could now see his drawings without bias or judgment. The carefully executed image is drawn in pencil directly on the front endpaper of the book and contrasts visually with the destroyed spine and the missing pages of text. On the opposite endpaper, one finds barely legible penciled commentary, the artist’s signature, and the date of execution.
What is the meaning of the montage that gives us such cause for reflection? First of all, the drawing on the endpaper of a book becomes an object, and the battered back cover with its carefully torn out pages and frayed edges dramatically reinforces the drawing; a circumstance that immediately raises the question as to the image’s relationship to the destroyed image carrier. Into which book, with what content has the rudimentary drawing, which alone conveys no meaning or narrative, been inserted? The artist does not draw an actual narrative, but rather merely presents details, such as hands, bodies, or movements that remain enigmatic. Clippings of photos from old albums, newspapers, films, or the infinite pool of images on the Internet. From this circulating flood of images, the artist chooses one image which, as a detail, becomes both a rebus and a reality in the destroyed book. Due to the lack of text, the book as a possible encyclopedia becomes itself a question and a counterpoint to the image. The viewer must solve the pictorial riddle for him or herself. Do the hands, which frequently recur as a pictorial motif, seek or give support? What are the people gazing at, what are they climbing over, why are they lying down? Questions upon questions that even the book can no longer clarify. What does the image mean to us without narration? The image refers back to itself, and therein lies its meaning. The book, found by chance and already destined for recycling, has no relation to the drawing, but experiences a resurrection through the drawing on the inside cover. Unframed, the drawing can be propped up as an object; one can very well still see the binding—and with this, the title, the author, and the publisher. His drawings of people or objects are cropped, and any additions must be actively made by the viewer. The artist pays close attention to light and shadow and draws extremely fine gradations from deep black to black and from gray to luminously light. The motif of the cloud, for example, is characteristic for the artist, since clouds take on ever-changing forms, constantly in motion like our bodies. His drawings illustrate the processual nature of life and thus become allegories of human existence.
|1967||born in Joaninna, Greece|
|1993-1999||Aristotle University School of Fine Arts, Department of Visual and Applied Arts, BA|
Currently lives and works in Thessaloniki, Greece.
SOLO EXHIBITIONS (selected)
|2021||New Works, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne / D|
|2019||Operation Mincemeat Asides, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne / D|
|2017||Liber Mundi/Imago Mundi, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne / D|
|2015||Operation Mincemeat Asides, curated by TinT gallery, National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation (MIET), Thessaloniki / G|
GROUP EXHIBITIONS (selected)
|2022||Ammophila vol 3 -There Was land Here Before,Elafonisos, Greece/ G|
|2021||BIBLIOMANIA, Villa Zanders, Bergisch Gladbach / D|
|2017||Walking the Line VI, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne / D|
|2015||Syn-In the framework of ³Antallaxima 1³, Mansion Georgiadi, Mytilene / G|
|Art Projects / Art London, participation with TinT gallery, London / UK|
|2014||Optima mihi in chartis, Galerie Roemerapotheke, Zuerich / CH|
|Art Athina, participation with TinT gallery, Athens / G|
|2013||and I would see flowers through your eyes, Alex Hamilton – Christos Venetis, Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London / UK|
|2012||Utopia, curated by E. Parpa and M. Stathi, E. Lanitis, Cultural Center, Limassol / ZY|
|2011||Art Athina, participation with TinT gallery, Athens / G|
|The Symptom Projects, curated by A. Artinos, M. Kataga, K. Christopoulos, Amfissa / G|
|Reference/Representation, Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki / G|
|2010||Conversation piece, TinT gallery, Thessalonik / G|
|2009||Ana-Kata 221, curated by D. Konteletzidou, IRIS Cultural Center, Municipality of Stavroupoli, Thessaloniki / G|
|Hinterland, Action Field Kodra 09, curated by M. Kenanidou, Kodra Camp, Municipality of Kalamaria, Thessaloniki / G|
|2006||Zosimades’ Action, Municipal Gallery of Ioannina G|
|2001||Matter-Work, curated by D. Konteletzidou, Vafopouleio Cultural Center, Thessaloniki / G|
|2000||10R00MS2000, curated by D. Konteletzidou, Kappatos gallery, Hotel St. George Lecabetus, Athens / G|
|Millenium2000, Mylos, Thessaloniki / G|
|1998||Art Athina 6, ZM gallery, Athens / G|
|1997||Art Heineken, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki / G|
|1996||Merkouria 96, Hellexpo, Thessaloniki / G|