|Title||AIGAIO||Posted In||Industrial / Product Design, Art, Photography||Duration||19 May 2021 to 21 July 2021|
|Venue||MON COIN Studio||Location||
Pottery has been an integral part of Greek culture for millennia: Greeks have been using ceramic vessels to store, transport and drink essentials like oil, wine and water since the Bronze Age. More than just utilitarian objects, ceramic vessels have always been a medium for artistic expression, the distinctive forms and intricate decorations of countless archeological finds attesting to a rich variety of styles and techniques that evolved in Ancient Greece over the centuries. The cultural and socioeconomic importance of pottery may have waned since antiquity but the passion for the craft has endured. In fact, you don’t have to visit a museum to see beautiful Greek ceramics, there’s a proliferation of ceramic workshops breathing new life into the country’s pottery heritage. “AIGAIO”, a new exhibition at MON COIN Studio, a contemporary ceramic art space in Athens, showcases the creative breadth of the country’s flourishing pottery scene by bringing together work from over 100 Greek contemporary and traditional artists and workshops. Organized in two sessions, the venue will first host a selection of works from the Aegean islands running from the 19th of May to the 19th of June, with works from the rest of Greece presented from the 21st of June to the 21st of July.
Comprising a gallery space that also doubles as a store and a workshop, MON COIN STUDIO is the brainchild of French ceramist Éléonore Trénado-Finetis who founded the project with a mission to promote the work of contemporary Greek potters as well as practice her art. For the theme for the studio’s latest exhibition, Trénado-Finetis has chosen the Aegean Sea in terms of both geography and inspiration. “The theme AIGAIO has been chosen because it unites almost the entirety of Greek artists and offers us the unique opportunity to present contemporary Greek ceramics as a whole”, she says, emphasizing that “this is an occasion to pay tribute to the heritage of ceramic craftsmanship”.
From the marine iconography of Minoan ceramics, to the geometric motifs of the Mycenaeans, to the narrative decorations of the red-figure style of Athens, pottery production in ancient Greece revolved around the Aegean Sea - crisscrossing trade routes connecting the mainland with the islands, not only spurring the craft’s development, but also promoted cultural exchanges across ancient Greece and beyond. The legacy of this illustrious past continues today through the existence of hundreds of pottery workshops that can be found in every corner of the country.
The exhibition’s first session highlights the Aegean Sea’s central role in contemporary Greek pottery with over 40 workshops from islands in the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and the Sporades, as well as Crete, Hydra and Aegina. Filtering centuries-old traditions in pottery craftsmanship through a modern perspective whilst also drawing inspiration from the natural environment and local culture, the works on display range from tableware and other utilitarian items, to decorative vessels and sculptures, earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
It’s no coincidence that the island with the largest number of participating workshops is Sifnos, a small Cycladic island renowned for its enduring pottery tradition and the exceptional skills of its potters. Blessed with high-quality clay, it boasts a vibrant pottery industry dating back to antiquity, with many of its potters emigrating to other parts of Greece in the late 19th century, further brandishing its reputation. In fact, even today, pottery is still a major source of revenue for the island, as the works created by the 10 local artisans attest.
The second session focuses on Athenian ceramists but also includes work from Thessaly, Macedonia, the Peloponnese and Corfu. Along with the ceramic objects, both sessions will feature a small selection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, jewelry and design objects from select contemporary Greek creatives which aim to place the potters’ work into a broader cultural context, initiate a creative dialogue across mediums, and ultimately celebrate the country’s Greece's rich cultural heritage.