Zoumboulakis Contemporary Art opens "Wow Pow! Bam! Comics and Painting, A Meeting at the End of the 20th century"
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Zoumboulakis Contemporary Art opens "Wow Pow! Bam! Comics and Painting, A Meeting at the End of the 20th century"
Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke 1965, Edition of 280, 58,4 x 73,6cm. Photo: StudioVaharidis, Phokion Potamianos Collection.

ATHENS.- Zoumboulakis Gallery is presenting the groundbreaking exhibition "Wow Pow! Bam! Comics and Painting, A Meeting at the End of the 20th Century", which explores the enduring effect of comics on the body of contemporary painting.

Based on a concept by visual and comics artist Spyros Verykios and co-curated with art historian Thanasis Moutsopoulos, the exhibition aims to demonstrate the ways in which contemporary artists draw inspiration from the visual and narrative conventions of comic strips, transcending the boundaries between traditional art practices and juxtapositions such as that between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art.

The exhibition focuses on two parallel developments in art in the late twentieth century, which defined new aesthetic approaches and expanded the boundaries of art as well as narration, opening up new prospects for the evolution of contemporary art. On the one hand, visual artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Philip Guston, and Andy Warhol incorporated elements from pop culture into their work; on the other, comics artists such as Art Spiegelman adopted concepts and techniques of contemporary art, contributing to the emergence of new genres in art.

As Thanasis Moutsopoulos notes in his introductory text: “As of the 1960s, two parallel processes would change art forever. For one thing, painters would increasingly embed elements from mass culture, and comics in particular, into their work; at the same time, a new generation of comics artists would introduce elements from Modern Art and their studies at Art Schools into their pictorial stories. These events occurred on both sides of the Atlantic, playing a decisive role in shaping the subcategories of Pop Art and promoting the transition from Underground Comix to today’s Graphic Novel.”

In a similar context, the 1980s represented a major chapter for Greece as a new generation of Greek artists took an active part in this creative exchange. It was a boom time for Greek comic magazines like Babel and Para Pente, along with countless fanzines published cheaply and privately on copier paper and circulating from hand to hand. These publications were the platforms for young and talented practitioners to explore new ideas and modes of expression, combining elements from the popular culture of comics with graphic design and traditional art techniques. Through the pages of these magazines, artists like Diamantis Aidinis, Spyros Verykios, Dimitris Papaioannou and Konstantinos Papamichalopoulos, all of whom are featured in the exhibition, were able to showcase new aesthetic approaches and propose a broad spectrum of alternative propositions about what painting and comics can be for their audience.

The exhibition "Wow! Pow! Bam! Comics and Painting, A Meeting at the End of the 20th Century" attempts to present for the first time in our country this historical and seemingly incompatible relationship between the two media. The key question at its core, as Thanasis Moutsopoulos puts it, is “To what extent can comics open up into the realm of visual art, and painting in particular, and revive the attainments of such twentieth-century quests as Expressionism, Cubism, and Abstraction without fully arresting the function of the narrative?” To what extent can comics open up new potential in other artistic fields while retaining their dynamic and narrative function?

Embracing comics, contemporary artists expand the scope of their medium and create fascinating works that are funny, intellectually stimulating, deeply personal, and contemporary. With their resourceful use of the aesthetic of comics, the participating artists redefine the potential of painting and create a new visual vocabulary that is at once attractive and provocative.

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