Greek Gotham is, as of right now, my most meaningful project of 2016. While Mykonos last year was a family vacation spot, a place I had visited many times but had not returned to since 2007, this year became a magical door that opened other opportunities. I had written here about Dio Horia, a fantastic contemporary art gallery, the first of its type that opened in Mykonos last year by the incredible Marina Vranopoulou. Well, Marina and I hit it off last summer and since September of 2015 we have been working on Greek Gotham. To have this opportunity; to have the freedom to curate a show that took over an entire building with 50 artworks; to write and design a catalogue and have the incomparable Jeffrey Deitch work with us for the introduction; to bring the art of some of the most influential New York artists to such remote locations; to work with Marina, who has the same work ethics as I do and shares my tastes and points of view, is by and in itself, a dream.
I'm extraordinarily grateful to all the artists who accepted my invitation to be on this show. Each one of them asked personally by me. No secondary market, no weirdness, no tricks. I wholeheartedly not only respect and believe in the work of each of these artists but also made sure that there was a tie between their work and the legacy of what the Ancient Greeks invented: Assume vivid astro focus, Nina Chanel Abney, Greg Bogin, Mira Dancy, Raul De Nieves, Michael Dotson, Sebastian Errazuriz, Nir Hod, Todd James, Misaki Kawai, KAWS, Robert Lazzarini, Austin Lee, Taylor McKimens, Matthew Palladino and Erik Parker.
The concept was born of my constant thinking, almost romanticizing, of what Ancient Greece was and has since become. Greece's transformation over the past 2,500 years is kind of shocking, if you ask me. I see so many parallels with New York today, of how many thinkers and artists and creative people find a fertile soil in this city to get their projects going and influence the world. I get criticism because people are so jaded, so harsh and so cynic; they can’t even acknowledge that we, in the Western World, owe half of our culture to the Ancient Greeks. It is not by chance that the “Greek Miracle” is called “a miracle” because there hasn’t been anything like it in the history of humanity. What those five centuries Before Christ meant for the world haven’t been replicated anywhere. I won’t regurgitate the 200 hours of research and reading that I did for the catalogue; if anybody is curious, it is available on Amazon.
What I do know is that the project as a whole has been immensely rewarding and immensely successful. So far, we received more than 15 press pieces including The New York Times’ T Magazine, The Economist, The Observer and W Magazine, and also many pages in L’Officiel Mykonos, the cover of The Athens Voice, a massive feature in Yatzer and many, many more. People from all over the world have seen the show and left the gallery with positive feelings and with a new perspective. And being in Mykonos, with my family and some of the artists who traveled for the opening parties, was truly a highlight of this year.
Mykonos is magical, in every sense of the word: the energy, the people, the landscape, the mood, the weather, everything is conspiratorially perfect. Mythical and legendary, Mykonos was mentioned in Virgil’s The Aeneid and in Homer’s The Odyssey. But people are too lazy to bother with these details and the ones who haven’t been there think Mykonos is a college party place or a Spring Break resort. Hardly. Especially since the prices have been creeping up every year (a lunch for two, at the beach, can easily go as high as 250 euros. Not really college friendly), adding that it’s almost impossible to reach any of the good beaches if you don’t rent a car or have your own driver. But I digress. I know that Mykonos doesn’t register as the cultural part of Greece. I can see that. But it is changing, fast. And Marina with Dio Horia is making big waves, and more are coming after her, sensing that this is the time of Mykonos.
I think the photos and video posted here speak for themselves, but they can’t even come close to the real thing. I have never seen such light, anywhere else in the world. I have traveled all five continents, more than 50 countries, more than 200 cities. This light is otherworldly. Mykonos itself is the name of one the sons of Apollo, the God of Light. Apollo wanted his offspring to have the purest radiance under their domain. Henry Moore wrote that the Greek light is something you can’t imagine until you experience it, that the objects in Greece seem to give off light from inside. And he continues to be right, because nowhere else is the white glow as bright and the blue of the sea and the sky are as intense. If I could, I’d be back in a heartbeat. When I can, I’ll buy a house there. Because there is no other place as free, fun, mythical, non-judgmental, beautiful and inspiring. Until then, I will keep dreaming, working hard and turning skeptics around.
Panahra Square, Chora
Until September 1