Paul Chan in Athens

Paul Chan in Athens

Paul Chan. Image: Eric Boman

The New Yorker once described him as a “deep-thinking American making art out of shadows”. Now, Athens audiences can soon encounter for themselves the cerebral creations of Paul Chan that combine fashion with physics when he presents a body of new and recent works – Odysseus and the Bathers – at the Museum of Cycladic Art.

Chan’s arresting and visionary art usually concerns itself with liberating moving images from the confines of frames and this latest exhibition, too, will be comprised of kinetic sculptural works that fall under the umbrella of his “breathers” and “bathers” inventions.

Each figure is composed of a fabric “body” designed by Chan and attached to specially modified fans. Incorporating techniques that combine fashion, drawing and physics, Chan then manipulates how the figures move by composing the internal architecture of the bodies so they direct the airflow from the fans to create different kinds of motion in three dimensions. The “bathers” will be joined by gouache fabric pieces, works on paper and maquettes.

Odysseus and the Bathers, presented by NEON, will be guest-curated by Sam Thorne, Director of Nottingham Contemporary, and has been organised in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

What do Paul Chan’s “Bathers” denote..?

Artists have explored the motif of the “bather” throughout history. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, artists like Cezanne and Matisse took up the motif to express evolving notions about the body, sexuality and nudity, one’s relationship to nature, and much else besides. Chan takes up this age-old motif in order to redescribe the constellation of themes and ideas the “bather” embodies for what is turning out to be a dismal 21st century.

… And his “Breathers”?

Paul Chan’s “Breathers” from his Rhi Anima exhibition. Image: Paul Chan

The “breathers” fulfill Chan’s stated desire to turn away from screen images. Finding new ways to create moving-image works beyond the “frame” is, according to Chan, what progress might look like. For a number of classical philosophers, from Heraclitus onward, there was a relationship between life, consciousness or spirit, and movement. There is also a strong connection between breath and how it “animates” the living in spirit and in form. Chan’s “breathers” are sometimes loosely titled after a classical philosopher or ancient intellectual movement.

WHEN: July 5 to October 14. Opening Hours: Mon – Wed – Fri – Sat | 10.00 – 17.00; Thu | 10:00 – 20:00; Sun | 11:00 – 17:00; Tue | Closed

WHERE: Museum of Cycladic Art

Neophytou Douka 4, tel: +30.210.722.8321-3,

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