An eccentric, edible chaos Nadia Argiropoulou
An eccentric, edible chaos
Nadia Argiropoulou 2006

“Painting tends to be transformed into the surface of a polymorphic, infantile body…”. Describing his position on painting as a “libidinal mechanism”, Lyotard recognized the value of the image in its ability to contain and transmit the libido; to reproduce the physicality of our participation in the world.

Panos Famelis’ work, in all its forms, the relief walls, the sculptured heads and twisted bodies or the most recent drawings, is a homage to the tactility, to the physicality of materials and colors and consequently to the bowels of the painting process.

The colorful and fraudulent sloppiness of his painting, the broad masses of material that seems to be held in place almost randomly, the forms that look like barely crawling, emerging from the pulp painting (like the monster in the swamp in the known low budget horror movie), the electrified strips of plastic, pencils, enamel paint and oils that run like veins and arteries of persons in decomposition:

All are expressions of a deep desire for the physical and the material, of coordination with its properties, limbs and transformations. Famelis, a child of his generation, is communing (without necessarily being aware of that), in physical comedy, with Franz West’s pseudo – gawky objects, with the kitsch extravaganza of heterogeneous and melodramatic materials (pills, plastic gems, glitter, hair, feathers, plastic flowers and polyurethane cockroaches), in “dirty realism”, with Marilyn Minter’s snapshots of social “mud”. He is also communing in Puerto Rican Melvin Martinez’s new baroque triumphal abuse of versions of texture, in Glen Brown’s insolent usurpation of popular culture images, in the macabre sense of humor, with the dedication to the grimaces of death in art, with the speculative sculpture, with Schütte’s “character cast”, in Araki’s anatomy of lust or even in the Flemish sense of delinquency, of Jan Fabre’s grotesque and sin.

The anonymous protagonists of violent accidents or murders on Famelis tableaux, the headless messengers -something between cannibal’s trophies in decay and cinematic hero props- as well as the nebulae of human characteristics and the factors of sepsis in his drawings reflect eloquently Thomas Schütte’s concern for the protocol of honoring the memories and the tricks of instant history when he noted: “In my eyes the figurative tradition failed at the point when the artist had to create heroes in a democratic system, which nowadays is something television networks can do much more effectively… Power is no longer represented by a king or a single figure; it operates through a system or many, many different, overlapping nets which tend not to be visible but to be hidden away. So the power structure is basically anonymous and it's impossible to give it a face or even a body.” (T. Schütte. Phaidon Press, 1998).

The métier of chaos in Famelis’ work has another dimension in its atmosphere, that of Bataille’s, that of the base, of the basic and humble. It even affects sensations related with culinary experiences and the full range of rich symbolism (between life and death) that the food and eating have.

Like with Hansel and Gretel’s house in the fairytale-thriller by brothers Grimm, like in Greenaway’s films (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover), like in Dario Argento’s Suspiria, one knows that things are not those seen just before sampling their mutated flesh, the transmutation of their texture, the liquidity of their composition, the falseness of their taste.

In Mad Love, Breton wrote that the only beauty which should be served is the Convulsive beauty, “will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive, magic-circumstantial, or it will not be” and noted that “would loose any meaning were it to be conceived in motion and not at the exact expiration of this motion”. Famelis’ work, sometimes space-consuming painting and sometimes unstable sculpture, as it seems to be influenced mainly by the stability of the formative and destructive process of life, by the eccentric chaos, it resembles to meet alternatively some of Breton’s terms above.

It remains to be seen if, with its grotesque excitation, black humor, peculiar physicality, calculated naivety and charming vulgar invitation to more than one of the senses, it will also allow the necessary (as per the same specification as above) force of a solution: if in other words, it will eventually become the trap that promises or threatens to be.

Aenima Kostis Velonis Panos Famelis
Kostis Velonis Panos Famelis 2015

Discussion between artists Kostis Velonis and Panos Famelis on the occasion of the exhibition.

KV. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed an inevitable connection between representation and abstraction, with the expectation of unifying two elements that were once completely opposed to each other in the art field. I’ve noticed that your work seems to be more focused at times on representation rather than abstraction and vice versa, without any notions of intentional commitment to one means over the other. I would say that you seem to disregard the aesthetic ideological results that accompany each choice.
PF. The two worlds that you’ve mentioned are not always opposed to each other, meaning that a purely abstract image could be a detail of a general representational subject and not necessarily by intention. The real concern is the questions that we pose (either as creators or as observers) with our method of approaching said image. Personally, I’m interested in creating an artistic “language” that originates from these worlds while managing, however, to find the right balance between both; it’s the point where the representational elements and the element of abstraction can actually become the traces of a narration which is open to many different interpretations. The more incomprehensible the produced images are (to the point that all of said conditions can of course co-exist), the more interested I am in the result. After all, we all are in a way trying to form our own means of communication, which is formulated to a great extent by the characteristics of each person’s current time period.
KV. This specific formalistic coexistence between abstraction and representation has actually provided fertile ground for the quite old dichotomy within the anthropogenic culture to be surpassed and to be transformed into a more metaphysical or rather cosmological view that nowadays seems to be reflected in social sciences, such as the Actor-network theory. As Bruno Latour states in one of his essays regarding Tomas Saraceno’s installations, “no visual representation of humans as such, separated from the rest of their support systems, makes any sense today”. If we are to accept that the human entity cannot be separated [from nature] but in fact that we humans are essentially closely connected, for example with the climate or the bacteria that is inside and outside our DNA, as opposed to a once neoteric approach which separated nature and society, it would be quite interesting to observe just how these connections are translated into plastic arts. I believe that your latest work does respond to this context.
PF. The entirety of this body of work entitled “Aenima” is essentially a case study regarding breathing, a primary function of existence. An energy flow is produced by this ongoing pulse and results in shaping our uniqueness, as well as defining our identity and consequently defining our relationship with the environment. The repetition of relationships of order and chaos, light and darkness, life and decay, constitutes a natural law and primary pattern of all of these works, thus creating a thick overlay of traces of drawing, based on repeated fixed frequencies of moments, points, time and distance that appear on a surface that doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end. This relationship of order and chaos, as well as the way in which our existence is connected to the climate and the cellular structures that constitute our surrounding environment, are experienced and acknowledged by us through relationships between points and energies that occur from the pre-existing balances or imbalances that constantly form this compression of material and mass.
KV. I would say that the color - or rather the color’s tangibility via its thick layers- as well as the color mixes, that combine even more colors with each other, which are a typical element of your work, seem to play an integral part in advancing from the human microenvironment to a much wider ecosystem. I believe that the connection with this new series of black-and-white drawings that you present is based on this type of “organic” approach.
PF. My whole body of work negotiates terms such as life, materiality, instincts and death. I’ve noticed that the human entity exists in the core of a narration, initially appearing as a remaining trace from anthropocentrically focused depictions, which mostly feature the element of ‘flesh and blood’ while gradually transforming into a self-referential narration of the materiality of color. If we are to accept to a certain extent, the reality of a deeper relationship of existence and nonexistence that connects us not only to nature, the earth, and other beings in their entirety, but also to the macrocosm of the universe, then it would be safe to say that everything creates relationships of density and dispersion, a constant flow -as well as restructuring- of energy and mass. The Aenima exhibition refers exactly to this type of “density” of materiality and energy in the context of “inner space” and a network, as a representation of the relationship between microcosms and macrocosms.

KV. I’ve noticed, however that up until recently, your characteristic method of filling up a canvas with thickness [of color], has been gradually replaced in your most recent work with a sense of need to make blank space noticeable.
PF. Duchamp defines nothingness, the immaterial, the invisible, the close-to- nothing energy, the air itself, as “infra-mince”. Based on Duchamp’s opinion, Joachim Pissarro, commenting on Shirazeh Houshiary’s work, speaks of the subjective quality of the material in a work of art, of the co-existence of minimalism and maximalism, as well as the manner in which the artist manages to transform this marginally “unmaterialistic material” into something that has the greatest impact on us. According to Pissarro, the soul is the main concept in the narration of Shirazeh Houshiary’s work, a concept that is not too negotiated any more in art (perhaps due to the fact that a newer and more documented understanding and expression of the universe is sought).
KV. A futuristic element seems to appear in your way of drawing, not only in your older but also in your more recent works, including your sculptures. This type of futurism, however, does not seem to share any ideological background with the futuristic art movement, where the past is disregarded and the narration of a forced modernity is supported. Your type of “futurism” is more similar to the process of experimentation and researching for new elements.
PF. I believe that your observation is arrived at subconsciously, because of how you perceive my character’s idiosyncrasy, via certain events and images that may appear without, however, anything being predetermined. I consider myself to relate ideologically to the Futuristic art movement, due to the fact that my work does not strive for any type of human intervention over nature, but on the contrary, my references are organic or natural and not technological. However, the Futuristic concept of formalistic plasticity, which attempts to depict incoherent relationships between time and emotions that result in the objects appearing in an inconsistent manner, in complete disarray and in parts, is where I occasionally have similar theoretical concerns in the art and sculptural field. I’m quite interested in this side of confusion just because it produces a sense of uncertaintyinsecurity, which is a fundamental rule of nature.
KV. Your treatment of your sculptures demonstrates quite clearly your relationship with a type of experimentation that is open to failure, even leading to the sculpture breaking because of the weight of the color coating.
PF. You are absolutely right in your observation, and I believe that we share that in common with your work also. I’m quite interested in the concept of a fragile state and that does not come across only from the way I handle my material in sculptures; I feel that even in this exhibition where no form of sculpture is presented, a sense of fragility underlies my drawings. My body of work, however, is based on the point situated between two or three dimensions, between a drawing and the limits of its material existence. The “transformation” of a material that is intended for two-dimensional viewing into threedimensional masses, clearly leaves plenty of room for deliberate failure and might also contribute to the feeling of uncertainty that was previously mentioned. If this type of sculpture, as you very well state, does indeed balance between its structural limits, I would pursue that this potential failure is relatable to anything that has failed (and vice versa). This would allow any possibility and reference to be simultaneously open to a sense of “fragility”, but also to a sense of “robustness”. The Japanese use the word “shokunin” to portray a person that performs with a ritual respect exactly the same tasks every day, in order to perfect his skill and also to constantly develop the quality of the outcome. Even though I often feel that I don’t operate very differently from this, I actually intend to gradually reach the point before the work completely collapses, or just one fragment of the whole process remains, rather than creating a “perfect” result. This flirting with a possible destruction is what infuses the whole process with a sense of vanity that I’m interested in, since it creates a more childish approach.

Contemplating death - Contemplating the image Sotiris Mpahtsezis , Art historian
Contemplating death - Contemplating the image
Sotiris Mpahtsezis , Art historian 2008

Contemplating Panos Famelis’ work, both visual and textual, we cannot help but wonder why the work of such a young, optimist, social engaged artist puts emphasis on death. If it is not about a revolutionary necrophilia of a contemporary nihilism, aspects of which are commonly found as a post-modern caricature in the mainstream spiritualistic and gothic aesthetics, then which is the touchstone of this art that seems to refrain from drawing from easy discernable symbolic references and meaning connotations? Which is the bet that the artist is placing, in his effort to compete death through art?

Representing death in a visual way is somehow impossible. Perhaps the only way of such a representation are the burial masks used in various cultures (Minoan funerary masks, Medusa’s mythical head, lamenting Noh theatre masks, Maya masks and Vodoo religious masks), which as symbols of the transcendence of life and death invoke an exorcism process. Modernism proposed a different solution; it depicted death not as a representation but leaving “traces of the everlasting presence of its absence”.  Rothko’s paintings can be seen as efforts to showcase this, which is recorded and simultaneously eliminated. Hence, art, which replaces the present and is continuously referring to another, constitutionally absent, refers to some kind of death, while the image becomes its trace. (After all every image is etymologically linked to the Latin word for the funerary mask: “imago”.)

The philosopher Lacoue- Lambarthe stresses that death cannot be represented and that the manifestations of painting are depictions which are reproduced, acting as a second or a third etc. reproduction of the primal event. Because of the fact that the object of death (carrion, dead body, skeleton) is present but death is never present, it is absent or better it is “lurking” without “existing”. Therefore, the immediate reference of Famelis’s  work to death iconography, from the origins of European Art to the Fayum mummy portraits (the moment of the birth of both the byzantine iconography and the western painting as a representation) and to the “stage of death” in Christianity, for example the scenes of the Crucifixion or the Deposition of Christ or to the representation of many other “dead bodies” (lovers, artists, heroes and dead gods) to the art of Romanticism and Symbolism as well as to the “Right to death”, Blanchot’s  motto, as the  ultimate artistic action, could give a first answer to our question.

The abovementioned iconographic sources are important points of reference in Famelis’ work. Demonic images, based on their various ethnographic versions, appear as painting dots on the canvas; traces of fluid matter which through shaping movements (let us avoid the term “gestures”) create an image. They might be skulls, they might be masks, and in any case their ambiguity attracts the viewers and makes them reflect in front of these “black holes”.  In sculptures alike, a hybrid form of representation where the visual artist’s engagement with the qualities of the painting medium is the starting point, the painting pigment becomes the primal matter for sculptures such as abstract forms, unfamiliar totems and decaying dead bodies. Either they are abstract forms or heavy masses of pigment on a canvas, which in that case is an object, or sculptures combining pigment with organic matter (animal skeletons), those works, force us to decide on their nature. Are they objects of worship, trying to banish the gap that was left after the death, or dismembered, dead bodies?

But probably this isn’t what interests the visual artist. Even though these works deal with imaginable depictions of death, do they in the end attempt to deconstruct any representation-image perceived as death? According to the philosopher Nancy, any reference to the image as re-presentation, as copy (making here reference to the Aristotelian imitation theory) is wrong. For Nancy, the image is an imprint that stamps a presence with its force. A presence that is impressed onto the material and through this inherent force is revealed to the viewer. The image cannot be such if it bears any indexical or demonstrative function (as do, for example, a sign or a passport photo – these are dead images), but only if it bears a monstrative function (the neologism used here by Nancy refers to the Latin monstrum which means a holy sign or a miracle). This monstrous sanctity (and we’re not referring here to any religious system) contained within the image provides its statutory quality. The image is self-authorised and unfounded (image sans fonds). The painter must harness the force that occupies the forms and bring them to the level of presence. Nancy here makes the distinction between art that draws from its absence, from this depthless depth, and the image that merely slays without being present, the image-death. Famelis’s work should be seen through this interpretative framework exactly as a need for the presence of the image to become visible.

Indeed, Famelis does not appear to refer to the dead image, but to contemplate the kind of death that “lurks without being”. His work, the result of this contemplation, wants to act as a presence and eventually articulate a contemporary moral contemplation about life through death. You learn to live, this should mean that you learn to die, to consider, in order to accept, the absolute mortality (with no salvation, no resurrection, no deliverance not for yourself, not for the other). Its the post-Plato philosophical calling: philosophizing means learning to die. I believe in this truth without surrendering to it. A little less every time. I have never learnt to accept death. In this stoic view, Derrida appears to follow the Socratic/Platonic proposition (Phaedo, 81a) that philosophy is nothing else but “a study, a review of death”. He, however, is really expressing a protest, an opposition, thus putting forward the deconstructive function as a possible route to affirmation, to confirmation of life. Derrida urges us to live being conscious of this gap, believing in the truth of philosophy as a review of death, but at the same time in our inability to accept death, endeavoring to live with an ideology of a total and radical negation of our self, of our ‘peculiar life’. He is not suggesting a death-craving annihilation of life at some ideological altar (such as religion, scientific discourse or the world of entertainment), but an affirmation of life, what he calls “letting life live” as an act of love. Knowing how to let and whatever letting means is one of the most beautiful things, the most reckless, the most necessary I have ever known. Similar to abandonment, a gift or forgiveness. The experience of deconstruction cannot be conceived without these things, without love, if you prefer this word. For Derrida, death, the separation, perhaps as a kind of sacrifice, from the other and from what we believed was our own reality is an act of life, a more intense, rich, and significant life beyond survival, a life that has been “let to live”. “Knowing how to let” defines a moral stance, one that is equivalent to the psychoanalytic experience (as a realisation of symbolic castration) which is not defined by the absolute libidinal self-affirmation of personality, Ego, “creative” expression, and emancipated self-realisation, but by the realisation of permeability and the possibilities that open up through it. It is this personification of death in Derrida’s phrase “I have not learnt to accept him” that places death in the position of the “Other”, who remains however as the radical otherness, the monstrous “Thing (Ding)”, even if this radical otherness must be a part of our (psychoanalytically defined) negotiation with death. We can thus make sense of the philosophical saying: “we are all survivors on suspension” and perhaps it is within this framework that we can understand Panos Famelis’s visual stance on existence, a reflective stance that brings us face to face with life through death’s traces.

Sotiris Mpahtsezis , Art historian

i  Vaggelis Mpitsoris, Jacques Derrida, Life. Death, Survival, Nefeli, Athens, 2006, p. 47

ii  Jacques Derrida, Apprendre à vivre enfin, Gallilée, Paris, 2005, p. 25, transl. Vaggelis Mpitsoris

iii  Jacques Derrida, Élisabeth Roudinesco, De quoi demain… Dialogue, Fayard- Gallilée, Paris 2001, p. 17, transl. Vaggelis Mpitsoris

iv  Vaggelis Mpitsoris, Jacques Derrida, Life. Death, Survival, Nefeli, Athens, 2006, p. 45

Flow Panos Famelis
Panos Famelis 2013

The viewing of violent acts was often one of the most important occasions of social intercourse, religious and spiritual catharsis. Aiming to define generally the word “violence”, however, we should make clear that we mean every action against someone else’s will. Based on this explanation, the action and participation in a “martial” sport - art, whether during an organized tournament or a simple combat practice, doesn’t fit perfectly in a violent context because it consists of aggressive physical actions against someone else, who has consented to participate though.

The relationship between violence and entertainment is a granted and inevitable condition. The ways we seek and respond to it, the bounds we set and the resources we consume to display violent acts, help us to define a culture.

Man’s attraction towards violent entertainment is expressed in many various ways. An acceptable social context of expression of intense and violent emotions is provided to offer something different to everyone. The viewers of such shows do not share a common motivation. Some look for excitement, others for compassion or social acceptance through a common lived experience, while others seek justice. This creates an "immersion" in an imaginary world that contributes to the transcendent experience of a massive "flow".
(Csikszentmihalyi Minaly, 1990).

The new disorder Michael Bevilacqua, Katerina Nikou
The new disorder
Michael Bevilacqua, Katerina Nikou 2011

At an age of appropriation, relational art and aesthetics, the question of art practice remains as complex and current as before. Since the 1960s the medium and the material condition of the artwork has increasingly become relative to the means, location and context of artistic utterance. Information and technology are now so dominant, that it becomes restrictive to name artists as painters, sculptors, photographers etc.
The artists exhibiting at The New Disorder come from varying backgrounds; music, textile, visual arts, performance. Their vision can help us understand deeper the complex relationship to the outside world. Their wide artistic practice attempts to perceive the relationship of art to society and the different places and ways in which art is realigned with life; out in the streets, in film sets, design studios, fashion shoots and workshops. The artists invite the audience to constantly question its ways of seeing and experiencing art and to change perspectives. They explore feelings of alienation and displacement through time and space.

“This world is the movie of what everything is, it is one movie, made from the same stuff throughout, belonging to nobody, which is what everything is.”

Jack Kerouac, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity

Panos Famelis’ (GR) artistic practice incorporates painting, sculpture and performance. Through his black and white drawings, he presents the wilderness of a personal landscape, a space oddity with no solid structure. Influenced by real social reactions (Athens, December 2009) this unconventional imagery where the viewer has no sense of the actual architectural space, comments on the fragility of social structures which are easily

The wave Nadia Argiropoulou
The wave
Nadia Argiropoulou 2013

I am legion


The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promis'd joy!

To a mouse, 1785, Robert Burns


But the rabbit repeated softly over and over. "He gonna leave you, ya crazy bastard. He gonna leave ya all alone. He gonna leave ya, crazy bastard"

Of Mice and Men, 1937, John Steinbeck


Burns’ poem, written when the Scottish author was but 26 years old, predicted, with art’s unique paradoxical way, the author’s adventurous and short life, and simultaneously set forth, once more, what the ancient Greek tragedy, the eastern epics, the northernmost myths and the great works of humanity have always been saying.

In “Of Mice and Men” John Steinbeck reiterated in a rather particular way, how fragile that sole breath that intervenes between birth and death is, and how futile the effort to be accurately designed. Moreover, the first title of the work, before Steinbeck having read Burns’ poem, was “Something that happened”. The 20th century diffused into “low culture”, entertainment, comics, films, music, television and later the YouTube and other networking platforms, the same primary agony for life as an event, with new, often illegible, features. What was mainly sought, and is still painfully and persistently being sought in this century of hyper-hybridization, is the extent to which human, the “incorrigible dreamer” (André Breton), contains the beast within and dreams through it, grasped by reality, unable to understand the nature of power, alone or collectively.

Giorgio Agamben attempted to capture the concept of demonic as our internal “divine impotence”, precisely in our relationship with the Other: “Fleeing from our own impotence, or rather trying to adopt it as a weapon, we construct the malevolent power that oppresses those who show us their weakness.” (“The coming community”, Indiktos, 2007).

Art is trying to capture this most intimate matter, the mass that is stirred internally and flows externally, like the “deep green” Salinas River, with which Steinbeck's work begins and ends.

Panos Famelis is creating “The Wave” which is being presented at the current exhibition. He is testing matter in all subsequent attempts to give sculptural substance to the painting gesture and the aura of performance to the three dimensional born object.

His works are always open, between birth and collapse, undecided, unclear, misleading as to the direction of the paste and unstable as to its formation. The almost lunatic accumulation of matter and its shapes, a kind of controlled reversed explosion, is visible even to works that he has created participating in the collective platform Under Construction (furniture, scaffoldings, files), where the structure of power, in its terrible anonymity, as well as the impotence of an average person to reimburse it with a face or body, is studied with constructions, interventions and actions of experiential formula.

What is it that makes “The Wave”, as it is currently appearing, four by three meters and 350 kilos of knots and daunting oil lumps, a key work, a somewhat joint in the body of Famelis’ work?

This work of art, as it is being displayed on its own, following its creator’s wish, seems to condense references, to summarize their ways of management and to stabilize a personal language.

It is a clear, though not definitive, victory in the extremely difficult management of the intractable, marshy paste that is pushing space literally and figuratively, and is counting time and effort in relation to both creator and spectator. The rawness of things, something that in the past has been connected with Bataille’s basesse, the concept of Low and Amorphous in Famelis’ case, acquires monumental dimension in “The Wave”.

It is revealed as a gaping wound, gateway (or swamp) from which the matter of painting is emanated and to which it tends as the matter of life itself, crude and imperfect, potentially foul as a form that is approximating the absence. Like the other side of the same coin, it marks the artist's interest in the mechanisms of social cohesion and the tools to understand and improve these mechanisms.

As a laboratory study of a universe “that does not look like anything” and “is creeping everywhere like a spider or a worm”, the hidden mouse nest of “The Wave” is one of those images that recall broader reflections on the destiny of humanity: If “there are no longer social classes but just a single planetary petty bourgeoisie in which all the old classes are dissolved ... the form in which humanity is moving towards its own destruction”, “the planetary petty bourgeoisie represents an opportunity unheard of in the history of humanity”, to enter that is, every human as a common and perfectly exposed singularity into “a community without presuppositions and without subjects, into a communication without the incommunicable”.

It is the elegiac swarm of the damned that Dante and Virgil first hear and then see, the “legion” of the New Testament, the buzzing of the bees in the 1978 cult thriller, but also an impressive collection of modern technological achievements in simulation in the cinema of the era of “The Lord of the Rings”. It coincides with Aristotle’s, Marx’s, Hobbes’, Bergson’s, Badiou’s, Deleuze & Guattari’s theories, with the musical compositions of chaos in Xenakis:

the swarm, the herd, the multiplicities are the multitude that is governed by unknown, undefined laws of behavior and permeates its environment in a manner that violates the conventional individual-collective relations, bears the promise and threat of change, the influence first and then the responsibility.

Relevant studies, complex and in a wide range of research areas, lead to the conclusion of abstract motifs that are constantly crossing the border of individual-collective, nature-culture. Eventually it may be right that “there’s one notion of multitude that’s always-already and there’s another that’s not yet” (Michael Hardt).

“The Wave” is on such verge, whereas its spectator lies at the precarious nexus of perception and understanding.


The torn cloth Katerina Nikou
The torn cloth
Katerina Nikou 2015

In an urban workspace in the center of Athens, painter Panos Famelis artfully presents the torn cloth.

Panos Famelis’ new exhibition is hosted at the project room at busybuilding. In a distinctively familiar contemplation, a new series of works is presented that carries a discreet lyricism— and that comments upon the emotional relationship between imagination and the exterior world through the use of matter in contemporary art (color, drawing, sculpture). Regarding space, Panos Famelis suggestively displays his own questions: what is space, how is it defined, who defines it and who creates it, how do human relationships are formed within it, what is the space in the middle, whether space exists at all, and what’s the case with empty space after all?

Famous architect Philippe Gazeau, acclaimed for the way he combines urban philosophy with architecture, says this: … Architecture is an adventurous exploration of the real; it exists above all for the purpose of inventing new situations that go beyond use, form, and materials… That is exactly what the viewer understands by observing Panos Famelis’ works: the intention of discovering the real and the creation of those conditions whereby the real can become possible, through the constant search of its own substance. The concept of the real on which Famelis commentates can potentially be taking place under some situations that are to a certain extent imaginary, in an unconscious alternation of reality and transgression. Freed from limitations in relation to matter and form he constructs conditions for the geometric schematization of the air and reveals the reality of material existence and its progression into the surrounding space.

The sense of a neutral/undefined space is intense, both in his paintings and his sculptures. His painting unfolds unassumingly in the form of a personal diary, creating a sense of euphoria and uplift. He personally introduces us into a non-realistic world, but still through pleasant color compositions and by posing questions in relation to the concept of deceit. The paintings present undefined architectural complexes that are transported into three-dimensional space through the sculptures. The latter constitute the spatial-formalistic rendition of the former. They could be treated as undefined thought-constructing machines that activate and are activated by imagination. But their main precondition is involving the viewer in this dialectic relationship that develops between himself, the creator and the work. Spontaneously tracing back this particular question on the relationship between viewer and artist/artwork in the history of art, I recall Marcel Duchamp and his text The Creative Act. Here Duchamp presents his reasoning on the axis viewer-artist and mentions the phenomenon of art-coefficient, i.e. the intermediary relationships that occur between the artwork and the viewer, and the artist’s attempt to express that which is tacit but intentional and that which is expressed without being intended.

The undefined and uncontrollable relationship between artwork and viewer leads to exactly that which Panos Famelis highlights through the torn cloth, in undefined space. The exhibition’s title refers to a six-minute scene from Orson Welles’ unfinished film, Don Quixote*.

The imaginary/real combination of non-relations that happen in undefined spaces finds the torn cloth as its meeting point, where viewer and creator contest and at the same time converse. the torn cloth is the means, the artist’s trick for introducing us into a process of thought and deconstruction of social space, which in turn consistutes the basic condition for its re-composition and reconstruction.

*Orson Welles’ Don Quixote is an unfinished film in which he was the producer, the writer and the director. Orson Welles worked on this periodically until his death in 1985.

Translated from the Greek by Kiriakos Spirou.