Scholars' Association News
Issue 31
July 2014


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“No Respect”: Graffiti and Street Art at the Onassis Cultural Centre
By Dionysis Kambolis

You climb the stairs at the impressive Onassis Cultural Centre on Syngrou Avenue where you’re greeted by Rodin sculptures. As you’re heading for the exhibition space, going down transparent, slightly illuminated stairs, you can start to make out the sound of rap music. When you get to the entrance, some ‘tags’, one-liners and writings on the walls give you a good idea of what’s to come. After entering, you’re overwhelmed by bright colours and all the different shapes and forms in there. The walls, from floor to ceiling, even the floor itself, the columns and the cars ‘abandoned’ in the space –every single surface in fact- is jam-packed with colour and shapes... unique colour combinations that bring the room to life thanks to their sheer intensity, making it shake and vibrate. Unusual colours find a home next to each other, sometimes on the same plane sometimes in shapes that you can see emerging from the walls, repeated in perspective, even on the floor; shapes whose shadows sometimes reinforce their 3D aspect because of the intensity of the black, and that sometimes travel around the space in various shades and sizes.

As art forms, graffiti and street art emerged and developed on the street and by their very nature are free. Is that freedom constrained when you take them away from their natural environment, the street, and house them in an exhibition space? Does this ‘legitimisation’ do away with the spark and intensity of the message they convey? I smile when I see the Onassis Cultural Centre’s response to this key question. I think to myself that I’ve seen images like these on walls in different areas of Athens. There are compositions that Athenians often have the good fortune to see and admire with a quick glance as they travel on public transport or in their own cars as they move around the city’s streets. Images that you’d see if you moved around Athens’ neighbourhoods like Metaxourgio, Sepolia, Gazi, Kifissia, Marousi, Exarchia, Kypseli, Kolonos and other areas, each of which contains walls designed to attract your attention.

“No Respect” is the name of this graffiti and street art exhibition organised by the Onassis Cultural Centre. The exhibition closely monitors trends in the international art scene and with a great degree of success manages to present representative works from Greek graffiti and street art culture as it appears on the streets of Athens and other large cities in Greece today, indoors for the first time. The exhibition was curated by Marilena V. Karra, and the 40 works created in-situ to cover the walls, columns and floor and anything else inside the exhibition space come from an equal number of graffiti and street artists chosen from a large number of entries made by artists who responded to the Onassis Cultural Centre’s open call. The exhibition features works by the following graffiti and street artists: ACHILLES – AIVA – ALEXMARTINEZ – APSET – ARMS173 – ATH1281 – BILLYGEE – BILOS – BIZ 360 – CACAOROCKS – DOKOSDIMITRIS – DON40 – EX!T, EZION – FOLACREW – FORS, IKEAR – INO – JASONE – KERT – LINARDAKI – PARISOT – NAR – NOBLEROT – RTMONE – SAME84 – SENOR – SHKCREW – SHUEN – SIMEK – SINKE – STMTS – THEOPSY – THINK – THISISOPIUM – WD – YIAKOU – ZAMIE – ZEK – ZOFOS – ZOTA – Π.

(Dionysis Kambolis is a visual artist and teacher.)

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