Istoria la bucată
17 August 2015 1 comentariu
Acropolis for Sale by Barry Schwabsky
It’s early July, and the Greek painter Apostolos Georgiou is wondering where else in Europe he might be able to live. Galleries can barely survive in Athens, he says, and the collectors have disappeared or are only buying abroad. The long-delayed project for a permanent museum of contemporary art in Athens seems more chimerical than ever. So where to go: Germany? Italy? England? “London is too expensive,” he figures, but then asks, “Would I be able to find an affordable place an hour’s journey outside the city?” It depends, I reply. Most areas near the city are stockbroker territory; he’d need to settle beyond the commuter zones in one of those shabby, forlorn seaside towns like Margate, Ramsgate, or Whitstable, if they’re still affordable.
I’m ostensibly visiting Apostolos to choose some of his works for a group show I’m organizing for a London gallery this fall. In fact, we could have made the arrangements by e-mail, but I had a further reason for coming: I wanted to understand how and why one continues to make art in a crisis—how one endeavors to create something, like poetry, that “makes nothing happen” while being (to borrow a few more of Auden’s words) “punished under a foreign code of conscience.”
The truth is, I don’t believe Apostolos will ever leave Greece. He’s too attached to his patrída: not so much Athens as Thessaloniki, “the melancholic and heavy city I grew up in,” as he’s called it, and the island of Skopelos, where he spent most of his life. The blue of his paintings is the Aegean sky; their gray sets a mood that I doubt could be conjured somewhere else—“melancholic and heavy,” yet somehow comforting for all that. But three days after Greece’s resounding “no” vote in the July 5 bailout referendum, Apostolos is worried. “I could never have voted ‘yes,’” he tells me, “but I didn’t want to vote ‘no’ either,” because he thinks the referendum should never have been called. And so he sat it out. He has no faith in Syriza, although he allows that it’s the only party untainted by corruption. But in his view, it remains an organization all too practiced in the political arts necessary for surviving as an opposition party, and all too inept at governing.