ILIAEA January 2006

January 2006

Emmanuel Mavrommatis

Art and Money (ΙΙ)

An analysis by Maria Demetriades of the Medusa Art Gallery

1. How does an art gallery operate in Greece today, and how does it finance its expenses? What is your own experience and results in this area in recent years?
It is by selling works made by its associates or purchased on the secondary market, as long as these works are compatible with the interests and orientation of the gallery and hence of its existing public. In recent years, Medusa has been on an ascending course in terms of sales of works, either by its associates or purchased, and I attribute this to the Greeks’ expanding interest in art as well as to the gallery’s consistent efforts to attract international collectors.

2. How does a gallery select which Greek artists to promote, and what—if any—changes have there been in your selections over the last ten years, for instance as a result of the obvious opening of the Greek art market to foreign artists?
I follow my personal views as they have been shaped and are still shaped over time, from the moment I see myself as a person with the right to develop her ideas and views on art with the passage of time. The concept behind Medusa allows for an opening to foreign artists, but before I take any action I want to be sure of the aims to be pursued and the potential results, so for the moment it remains under consideration. There is no point in Medusa presenting an unknown artist from Ukraine or Portugal and then being unable to follow their career and promote their work. We must not lose sight of the fact that the gallery operates in Athens, and its views remain parallel to the preoccupations of certain Greek artists we should like to help present their work abroad. And this is because I believe this country has some people who are worth all our support. Therefore, any changes would have to do with this aspect.

3. According to what views or ideas do you select the young artists you present for practically the first time? (I avoid the word “criteria” as too strong; I prefer something simpler). Is this choice at all influenced by the currently prevailing trends in European art? Do you ever feel like presenting works that go against the mainstream?
As I said earlier, the gallery selects its associates on the basis of its aesthetic views, which do not change depending on prevailing trends, of course, but evolve along with my own life, more subtly and rather obscurely. So although I know what goes on—or, at least, I try to know the international trends by visiting international Bienalles and Foires, studying on a daily basis and seeking information through magazines, books and the internet—I must say that in the end my choices of young artists are based not on developments on the European scene but rather on how convincing I find their work.

4.What would be the motive for you to collaborate with European or American art-related institutions? Have you had any experiences in this area?
I must be convinced as to the seriousness of the proposition, which will guarantee the successful outcome—the promotion of my associates abroad, as I said before. The gallery has already had several experiences of this kind, the outcomes of which encourages us to continue.

5. Final question: have you noticed a higher adaptability to the prevailing international trends on the part of the work proposed by Greek artists (the younger ones, obviously)? Do you have any ideas about how to take advantage of any such adaptability? How do you see a Greek artist operating in a European context today? Can Greek artists operate within Europe on equal terms with those from the major countries—or isn’t this what really matters?

My answer to the first part of the question is yes; there is more adaptability to international art trends than before. Without judging it, I believe it is only to be expected in an age when information reigns supreme.
Nevertheless, I must point out that the artists who are interesting to Medusa are not characterised so much by their adaptability to international trends but more by the way they filter the information and the stimuli through their own culture. In this way their work becomes part of the contemporary debate while reflecting their own subjectivity as it has been shaped by their education. Once we have accepted all the above as being true, we believe that every exhibition of the work of these artists abroad will attract interest as a show which contributes to the debate about current developments, while at the same time representing the country through artistic products based on its culture.
As to how an artist operates, my answer is that this is achieved through participation in exhibitions. Unfortunately, the absence of a Museum of Contemporary Art and the institutions which would encourage and promote contemporary art production render a Greek artist’s position in the European context unequal; and the answer to whether this matters or not is, I believe, self-evident.