CULTURAL SCENE – GREECE

A.P. ASTRA - The European Bull - Artforum Culture Foundation

A.P. ASTRA – The European Bull – Artforum Culture Foundation

Almost forty years after the fall of the dictatorship Greece is a blossoming democratic state, member of the EU, has already experienced his first immigration wave and now tries to find his new role on the map of the world. Also the contemporary art has profited from this situation and blossoms for about twenty years increasingly. The absence of an intelligent and well structured policy for the promotion of contemporary art, the financially poor public promotion, the lack of institutions and of necessarily infrastructure for contemporary art has isolated living culture of Greece and artists long time from the international mainstream. Still before a very short time one understood the visual arts (and culture generally) as a kind of tradition. It was, however, closed in itself and ethnocentric and in which academic axioms like “Hellenism” and the admiration of the antiquity took a high value.
Against it one saw “advanced” Greek art almost only abroad (from artists like Kounellis, Samara or Takis), at home hold it an edge existence. Only in the very last time the knowledge asserts itself with difficulty that art is a must for cultures identity, exactly in relation while it based on experiences which itself will get to know directly.

The today’s Greek society has assimilated mediterrane and oriental influence as well as western lifestyle and western consumer behaviour. In spite of traditional traditions, more narrowly family connections and a conservative mighty orthodox church Greece is already a country oriented absolutely to the west. During the last years a lot has done, in particular thanks to private initiative and privately financial support. New showrooms, galleries and artist’s initiatives, and two state museums in Athens and Thessaloniki, the two biggest Greek cities in which all most the artistic activities concentrate for contemporary art, were established. The growing cultural scene is determined, above all, by the big collectors, private museums and a germinating gallery scene and is anew animated. Even the artfair of Athens (Art Athina), the yearly shop-window of local art trade with increasing international participation, was brought to life in 1994 from a private initiative of engaged gallery owners.

Another leading figure in the art scene was his former multi-billionaire’s colleague Dimitris Pieridis also coming from Cyprus, his activities, nevertheless, reach from the antiquity up to rather less supported contemporary Greek art. Vlassis Frissiras is one of the 10 most significant art collectors of the world and a profilic promoter of contemporary art. His museum shows important works of Greek art and more than 3000 examples of international contemporary art like of Peter Blake, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, to Paola Rego, Jean Rustin, Pat Andrea, Valerio Adami, Mimo Paladino, Antonio Segui u.v.a. Farther significant collections and private institutes are the Lambrakis Research Foundation and the Basil and Elis Goulandris Foundation.

In comparison to Athens the artscene of Thessaloniki is less spectacularly, without a jet set character. But on the other side, here in the centre of the South-east European cultures and economic movements the people are related more to substance and look more to their own cultural identity. This was maybe one reason, why the incomparable collection with works of Russian avant-garde artists of the Greek George Costakis (1913-1990), formerly resident of Moscow and one of the most significant collectors of the 20th century, came to Thessaloniki. Artforum Culture Foundation is hosted since 1996 in Thessaloniki as well.  The Museum of Modern art, inside the fair ground of Helexpo, holds a huge collection of international and Greek art, supported from the private collection of Alexander Iolas.

Just in spider of the Southeast, in Thessaloniki, the resumption of cultural priority and a suitable promotion can carry on not only the economic development, but also be a guarantor for an international common language. Outgoing from the knowledge that blossoming cultures and growing national economies cause itself mutually,  the missing or otherwise used official support is of course still a not satisfactory brake moment.

There exists some fine collections with international and Greek contemporary art. Thus the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography is just the only museum devoted to this prospering medium in Greece – and one of just a few of its kind in Europe. From determining influence in this region and further on is also the gallery-conglomerate Tsatsis Projects / Artforum, one of the most significant Galleries generally in Greece. The narrow co-operation to Artforum Culture Foundation enables in common strain to be involved in central area of contemporary culture. Pantelis Tsatsis founded as well 2016 the now leading artfair of Greece: Art Thessaloniki.

Also the audience grows bit by bit for contemporary art, however, the market for such works is still small. It corresponds to an order of logic that on the opening to contemporary culture in the country itself, in the end, will follow also the interest abroad. Besides, the extension of the art understanding will contribute to the self-esteem also of the Greeks and the people of the greater area all over the world. Besides, stylistic questions are, actually, of secondary nature, it is determining which contents are transported. It would be to be thought absurd that an equalised art that means an art calls to western measurements would have future. Forms and colours may pass in a global world without shade, but spiritual penetration of life can arise always only from the own culture and landscape and will develop in confrontation to the unknown.
Jannis Kounellis formulated it in his charta, published 1995 in Milan, with these words: …  then you find a language with which to construct an image, every age identifies with a new image, that nevertheless contains the past as imaginary and as language, albeit essentially reformed.

PROJECTS

(c) Shahar Marcus - Homecoming artist (Ostrale Dresden)

(c) Shahar Marcus - Homecoming artist (Ostrale Dresden)

Projects and networking

Network+   

Network+ Project Artforum Culture Foundation starts new ways of co-operations cross-over between artists, collectors, museums, galleries, cultural institutes, government departments, cities and economical partners. With  Network+ Project Artforum Culture Foundation itself will come in touch to all of these different partners and will provide cross-over coordinations. Network+ Project can become a mediator to built up connections between all of these different partners to realise at the end a self-growing multi-level communication-network.
Artforum Culture Foundation will give technical and personal aid for such a network to initiate new proposals as well as to disseminate information and set up a database.  This shall constitute new tools to handle the future. Various personal and media meetings will worked out and pursued by the Artforum Culture Foundation, as well as pilot projects in cooperation with partners.

European Cultural Centre (ECC)

An explained aim of Artforum Culture Foundation is to install an European Cultural Centre (ECC) within the scope of the non-profit assignments as an icon of western identity and a meeting place for  intercultural exchange. EEC shall be a home or a retreat for artists and other cultural workers.It should become an institution which displays a drop-in centre and a close place for artists and cultural partners - not only from Greece, the Balkans, and the countries of Europe, but also from Turk states, Middle East, Africa, Asia, America and the Pacific area. Creative people from all regions and cultures should be able to gather here for exhibitions, music and theatre events and to communicate on symposia. The variety of their own ideas and suggestions will lead absolutely not only to an enrichment of the modern cultural world of the region, but to transfer and exchange new ideas globally. In particular this European Cultural Centre will also devote itself to the people in the Diaspora (not only Greeks) and prepare for them chances to introduce their special knowledge and experiences. Artforum Culture Foundation like to perform with this idea and the development as a project also a contribution for the transfer of the European idea as a possibility to unite independent and different heritages under a common ethnic and cultural umbrella. This idea is based on the conviction that cultural impulses always show social, political and economic impact.  

GULF PROJECTS. From Dark to Light

Dialogue of western thinking and islamic culture. Basic idea of the projects is to make as starting point the uneasiness, which proceeds also from the common one in western and Arab culture, for a respectful argument. Since beginning of the eighties this project is independently developed by the artists Astra and Jansen as an effective way to overcome today again the predominating lack of communication between the cultures. A main condition will be the public presence of the cultural dialogue.  
No progress of the cultures can start without economic basic conditions - and also no economic prosperity can exist in the long term without reciprocal cultural effect. But nobody can know in advance, how cultural potentials distribute themselves. This is a further approach of the concept 'From Dark to Light'. GULF PROJECTS refers also to the project variety in the Gulf region and its model-character. The incomplete, the fresh developing, the multiple mix under the pressure of time and market leaves perhaps only further cultural profanity to develop, but perhaps in addition something which is synthetic in the best sense of the word.
GULF PROJECTS,   based on a concept by Safiriou and Jansen in 1983, facilitate contributions of western and Arabian contemporary artists for exhibition projects in Europe and the Arabian gulf countries. It started in 2009 in co-operation with Goethe-Institut. Generous loans were made a.o. by Winter Stiftung, Hamburg.  A basic aim is to draw attention for the authenticity, but also for the common roots of western and Arab cultures. For further information see: gulfprojects.kulturserver-nrw.de

Art and religion / Kunst und Religion (KuR)

Independent artists project to analyze the role of religion. Look for further information: bbk-koeln.de, www.koeln.de/koeln/ausstellung_untersucht_rolle_der_religion_707186.html, www.artundamen.de)

Feminism and Gender discourse

In cooperation with Winter Stiftung Hamburg  Artforum Culture Foundation accompanied and supports a new global movement: Artists for respectful life.  Within this project the Feminism and gender discourse is one very important component. The artist Heinz Zolper, inventor of the "Dame" metaphor, is one of the the main artists to push this into public space with "Damen-Kult". To develop our society for future we have to understand that respect and full integration of women as well as all diverse is a need. It may not be seen as  a gracious act, but as a must.

PROJECT-PARTNERS (selection)

Art Thessaloniki art fair

Thessaloniki became one of the hot spots of young and cultural life in Europe. Today Thessaloniki is not only a place of huge history, but a multicultural city moving forward. Since its creation in 2016, Thessaloniki international Exhibition & Congress Centre is the venue of the fair, every year in November. Art Thessaloniki art fair, under its founder and director Pantelis Tsatsis, offers the most significant space for contemporary art in the whole area of southeast Europe and the East Mediterranean area. Within its concept there is prevention, communication and networking for galleries, artists, museums, collectors and visitors from all over the world.

IAM – International art moves

IAM - international art moves presents the best talents from art academies worldwide in Berlin and other places.

OSTRALE - Contemporary art project. 

Ostrale is called one of the greatest art events in Germany during the summer months. Since 2007 OSTRALE- Center for Contemporary Art organizes the annual international exhibition of contemporary arts in Dresden. From 2017 on,  Ostrale will be a Biennial (ostrale.de).

Winter Foundation I Winter Stiftung

Winter Stiftung is a private foundation in Hamburg to support art, culture and social targets. It build up an own art collection to unite prime international art and art by emerging artists. The main focus is on collecting art of the 2oth and 21st century, just oriented to quality.  The foundation is orientated internationally - without any borders.

Dettmer art projects

Cologne based lawyer and visual artist Jana Dettmer makes her art space "KunstStücke - Dettmer art projects" an important place for art and cultural projects. With the support of Artforum and  Winter Foundation Hamburg, events are regularly organized. The idea behind it: Art should come close to us - be entertaining, exciting, lustful and crazy. Art needs communication.  With passion the team by Dettmer promotes the dialogue about art.

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Art and culture as a main contribution to democracy

Artforum Culture Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation (NPO) running for more than two decades in Greece, other European countries and globally. In cooperation with art historians, curators, collectors, gallery owners and museum experts, the board of trustees is responsible for the strategic planning to fulfil mayor targets and services. Members of the board are appointed to set the policies of the organization. Under the doctrine of collective responsibility, the entire board is liable for the organization's activities. Our main mission is dedicated to the promotion of art and culture. Giving things significance contributes to the sense of life. Everything that humans freely design, form or express in pictures serves a meaningful whole. We would like to support those creators. More practically we to built up a growing up collection of Greek and international art. We like to cooperate with collectors, artists and their estates. Donations and loans are welcome. The foundation is also involved in researching for these art works. The promotion of art and culture has to be done in own projects as well as in cooperations with other institutions and organizations.

It is our conviction that support of art and culture can be an important contribution to promote and to get freedom, peace and prosperity.