Stephen Antonakos

Concrete Color

20 February - 25 April, 2010

About the Exhibition      View Work        Catalogues   News   Back


Kalfayan Galleries, Thessaloniki, presents an important selection of Stephen Antonakos' Berlin Collages - the boldest and most colorful chapter in his history of working in collage - 30 years after their creation in 1980.

Known internationally since the 1960s for his redefinition of neon in abstract geometric Installations, Panels, and Public Works, Antonakos has throughout the decades produced an equally resourceful body of works on paper with the same concerns.  In his own words, these start with "real things in real space" meant to be experienced visually and kinetically "in the here and now" without references to anything outside themselves.

Like his work in neon, the elements of these collages - though relatively flat and framed - exist not as images but concretely, as pronounced physical presences.

In contrast to the Travel Collages (late 1970s to 2001) and the colored pencil on vellum drawings from the 1970s and 1980s with their subtle collaged colored paper geometries, the Berlin pieces have as a group a purity of concept and execution that makes them immediately recognizable. Their colors have an almost material presence.  The artist specially commissioned quantities of paper of vivid color and substantial weight, formed of various specific pigments (and cotton fiber) from the paper maker.  

For a stay in Berlin in 1980 sponsored by the DAAD, Antonakos brought with him from New York rafts of these large sheets.  There in the cold northern light, he cut and tore geometric shapes from some of these papers and glued them onto others of various proportions. The focused creation of these constructions began in January and continued throughout a months-long period of intense work.

The defining juxtapositions of contrasting hues in these collages, and the fact that each color is actually a separate physical element, confirm the aesthetic connection between this series and the other important creative direction that began then in Berlin - the Artist's Books.  Along with the chromatic power of these collages, the artist's characteristic sensitivity to edges and his central concern with formal relationships are clearly visible throughout.

Greek-born and New York-based Antonakos has had over 100 one-person shows including a 50-year retrospective in 2007-2008 seen at the Benaki Museum and "Antonakos: Journey" at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens in  2009.  In the same year, Kalfayan Galleries presented “New Wall Works”, an exhibition of four neon works.  He has had more than 250 group shows and 50 public works that have been installed in the United States, Europe, and Japan.