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Vassiliki

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URL: http://www.vassiliki-art.com

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 Artist Statement

 
My very first memory of the world has been the image of the perfection of nature; an image that has obsessed my perception concerning the idea of creation itself. However, the idea of the supernatural or metaphysic seemed to be the certain field that could transform the human existence to something more than a catastrophically interactive tenant of a perfect scene, imprisoned in the limitations that the nature itself enforces.
 
The probability of another dimension within the natural or even fatal destiny of man in the circle of the human life became for me the meaningful field of research and self devotion. The choice of the artistic expression occurred during my childhood. The shape of man was just two lines for me: A vertical and a horizontal. It was so easy to draw my own images as far as i kept a safe distance from nature’s perfection.
 
After forty years of passionate evolvement with my own artistic expression I insist to say that art is like a prayer. Every kind of religion talks about the importance of prayer towards the unity of man with God. It seems to me a perfectly good idea under the condition that this targeted unity could have an impact on the present life and not only in the promising, however unknown, eternal one. In my case, if unity with God could include the expression of our kind nature, ensure the manifestation of a universal language and promise an easier way towards our self development, I confess that the origin of my need to make art was surely related with the archetypal need of praying without claiming that art is a salvation operation at least from the spiritual point of view since it truly could be for those artists - in which I belong too - who choose art in order to manage their vulnerability or even traumas. Regardless the nature or the origin of the artistic expression, the procedure for me is always the same. Whatever I feel or think or experience has to take its form, shape and colour. The more I grow old the less I find any meaning in idealisation which haunted my myself and my art for quite a long time.

 

1960
  • Vassiliki (Vassiliki Benopoulou) born in Athens, Greece.
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1972-1978    
  • •High school and first art works in sculpture with copper, plaster and mixed media.
  • 1st National prize in creative writing for students (1972). 
  • •1st National Cultural prize for students in painting (1974) for the political-protest work “24 eyes and a tank” inspired by the Polytechnic uprising in Athens 1973.  
1979-1988
  • Studies English and American Literature at the Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.
  • Drawing & Painting studies at the atelier of Michalis Veloudios.
  • Studies painting and sculpture at the Fine Arts school of the American University of La Verne.
  • Establishes the spiritual movement “Divinitas” with her art and philosophical essays.
  • First public exhibition under the title “Divinitas” at the Law school of Athens (1982).
  • Creates her first oil painting, “Me & You” (1981).
  • Establishes a successful private educational institution (1984) in Athens.
  • Completes and exhibits two hundred paintings, “The music of nature”, “Wreaths”, “Priestesses”.  
1989-1992
  • Post graduate studies in History of Art at the American University of La Verne.
  • Travels a lot and studies the works of the great masters in museums and institutions.
  • Exhibits her works in Greece and Italy. She uses music, poetry, prose and lighting effects at her exhibitions provoking considerable reaction by the art society.
  • Paints the work “The Gift” and “Genesis” (1989).
  • Completes more than one hundred and thirty paintings. “Pythagorean Mysteries”, “Delphi’s Mysteries”, The Woman and the Cross”, “I Protest”.
  • Honoured as a young artist by the Minister of Culture of France, Jack Lang (1992). 
1993-1995
  • Exhibits the enormous sculptural installation “The City of Crosses” and “Stavroschimites (cross-shaped figures)” (1994-1997) and “Vassiliki’s prayer” consisting of big scale paintings.
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1996-1998
  • Continues her studies in painting and sculpture with Nicolas Carone at the International School of Arts in Italy.
  • Lives and works in Torre Gentile in Umbria for a short period of time.
  • The installations of her crossed-shaped sculptures in public and private spaces in Athens provoke extreme fanatical reactions with the consequence of the withdrawal of her works with prosecutor’s intervention.
  • Pierre Restany supports her drastically by sending a declaration about the freedom of the artistic expression to the Greek Parliament and the international press. 
1999-2003
  • Creates “The City of Games” (2000) which is meant to impose on her career and substitute her artistic identity of the cross-shaped sculptures with that of the diamond pattern and the Harlequin’s since it becomes an excessively popular art work internationally.
  • The municipality of Paris invites her to exhibit “The City of Games” at the Place de La Bastille and the Camden Arts Council in Waterloo Park in London too, but at the same time period (August - October 2000). The exhibition takes place in Paris, makes a record of visitors and receives extensive publicity worldwide.
  • “The City of Games” is installed successfully in Switzerland, however the organizers refuse to return the art works after the end of the exhibition. After three years, the Swiss Court imposed the return of the art works to the artist (2003).
  • The actor Gerard Depardieu and Vassiliki organize a charity event for the institution with the name of the protagonist figure of “The City of Games”, the “Harlequin”. For this purpose the artist creates seven series of small scale of multiple sculpture volumes and printings related to the “City of Games” (2001).
  • Rosenthal chooses and entrusts Vassiliki to be the designer of its new collection in porcelain. She designs and paints by hand on porcelain, seven collections, one hundred and forty five designs, (2002-2003).
  • Spends long periods of time in Europe and in her new studio in Florence, at Palazzo Frescobaldi.
  • Paints twenty-five geometrical paintings.
  • Undertakes the construction of an exact copy of a Byzantine Church of Metamorphosis at the place of her ancestors’ origin in Arcadia of Greece. In the interior she paints the spiritual theme of Metamorphosis. She chooses a combination of painting, sculpture and installation of natural stones in order to approach the spiritual theme.  
2004-2009
  • Works on the series “The love of Harlequins”, and a new form of a young girl named “Angelique”.
  • She moves to Brussels where she sets up another more studio.
  • Works on her second most popular works, the “Hugs”.
  • Creates a series of fifty two large scale oil paintings, under the title “Being together” and thirty two sculpture volumes titled “Hugs”.
  • Writes three books in Greek, published by Kastaniotis editions, one of which referring to her artistic adventure towards her art works “Crosses” (2007).
  • Retrospective exhibition, a new series of work “In Black & White” and the presentation of “Angelique “ installed on swings, while parts of the “City of Games” continue to be on constant demand for being exhibited or getting installed in public spaces in various major cities and cultural events.
  • Prize for the best woman artist of the year in Greece (2006). 
2010-
  • Creates and exhibits the installation “Never Ending” and paints the series “Silence Treatment”.
  • Creates and exhibits the installation “Never Ending” and paints the series “Silence Treatment”.
  • Retrospective exhibition “The story of a Hug”.
  • Moves to a new studio in Athens (2013).
  • Paints and writes a fairy tale titled “The Forest of B”
  • New work in sculpture, still in progress titled “I Believe” with principle sculpture volumes “The Chairs”. 
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Biographical Note 
 
 
VASSILIKI (Vassiliki Benopoulou), born in Athens in 1960, is a visual artist and sculptor internationally renowned for her enormous kinetic installations as well as for her conjectural interventions. Exceptionally talented and motivated, is an artist with interdisciplinary academic background. She studied Greek, English and American Literature at the Kapodistrian University of Athens, Fine Arts at the American University of La Verne and the International School of Arts in Italy. Nicolas Carone was the professor who inspired and encouraged her mostly while Pierre Restany became her mentor and supporter during a critical period of her artistic career. Philosophy and every aspect of Theosophy developed by man throughout the centuries have been the  passionate interests of her study and research. The philosophy that has been imprinted on her art is defined by the artist herself with the latin word “Divinitas”, especially on her paintings and sculptures of her first creative period (1976-1996) which represents a conceptual adaptation of the divine in the human intellect and emotional impact.
 
The divine of the human nature and the psyche, as defined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, have played an exceptional role in Vassiliki’s idea of human integration within the framework of a philosophical and spiritual code and not of a religious one. It continued to play a prominent role even in the creation of her immense  kinetic installations. The idealistic inner beauty and harmony of the human beings is Vassiliki’s reality. The negative personal and universal incidents of life make her turn into utopia quite often, creating her own vision towards the world, embracing every aspect of life with the strongest belief in the victory of the positive inner powers over the negative ones. She dares standing up towards the catastrophes, the conflicts, and the contradictions, experiencing them as the only way of self development.
 
In her paintings as well as in her installations, Vassiliki has documented the productive dialogue between art and life through everlasting cultural and spiritual figures and symbols. Her work as a whole is defined by coherent, autonomous thematic evolutionary units, and it forms a creative polyptich, which reflects genuine existential awakenings and a philosophical contemplation on man and the divine.
 
Profoundly homocentric Vassiliki’s art signifies the continuation of a route dedicated to the mystery of existence through symbolism. In the devout environment of her installations-environments which extend to areas of over 3.000 square meters, she combines her artistic proposal with the everlasting concern of inner balance, and man’s position in the universal whole. Man’s ultimate goal, as it is expressed through the dynamics of her sculptures, is the struggle which aims at accomplishing the unity of all conflicting powers.
 
Daring and concerned, Vassiliki continues her speculation and pursuits of the transformation of the image revealing the new interpretation of her work consisting of elements from Commedia dell’ Arte (The City of Games 2000). The mystagogy of self-knowledge was and remains to be the most important aim of Vassiliki’s art. In her first monumental installations the artist has been working with the mirror on cross-shaped sculptures discrediting or entrapping the fragmented idol’s representation while giving priority to frugality and clarity of sculptural expression. An artist of a rare intellectual sensibility, Vassiliki combines a strong motivation for advancement and progress with high professionalism and a constant search for perfection with thoroughness, while implementing her energetic temperament in order to innovate.
 
Her installation The City of Games (2000), is considered to be one of the biggest in scale installations, composed by two thousand sculptures, all painted by hand with an astonishing geometrical, almost compulsive, accuracy, a plethora of colors, shapes and endless arabesques flying into the air and outlined by the figures of Dancers, Acrobats, Guards and the Harlequins -the dominant figure of the City-through swings, the wheel, balls and other machine-made and kinetic devices. Following the inspired “Stavroschimites” (1997), referring to the form of virtue through its embodiment in the human figure, Harlequins emerge as a key symbol of the artist’s approach toward life, death and the divine through the creation of her ideal beings. The characteristic multi-colored diamond shape costume of Harlequin, the protagonist of Commedia dell’ Arte, is the primary motif of The City of Games.
 
A magestic «stage» with all the necessary paraphernalia promising the trip to the magic world of imagination through the unknown, behind which lurks the danger of balance, the City of Games is an independent, integrated and self-sufficient environment. It carries along its visitors due to the grandness of its extension and the indescribable game of the senses. Dressing up its surroundings, the diamond shape evolves into an enigmatic game of colour combinations that is based on the optical experience and perception.
 
The “Temple of colors” is certainly the biggest three-dimensional painting in the history of contemporary art so far, covering a surface of 2.000 square meters, all painted by hand.The color tones, the combinations as well as the diamond shapes are almost never perceived to be the same. This differentiated optical perception is due to functions and stimuli of the human brain. A game of dizziness and intoxicating «hypnotism» accompanies the acrobatic attitude of the brain this time. Vassiliki perceives all these masks as the undertaking of incompatible standpoints in life, a walking on thin ice, being the achievement of a sensitive balance and paying its price.
 
During one of the most troublesome period of her adventurous life (2004-2010) she devoted her never-ending creative impulse to a deep research in the human embraces which gave birth to her sculptures, installations and paintings under the title “Being together”. Balance, passion, unity, harmony, even romance give an end to the human conflict during the “Being together” procedure. Feeling unable to face reality during that period of her life, as a conscious survivor turns to utopia for healing herself in order to come back (2014-2015) with one of her most esoteric and humanistic works under the title “I Believe”. An installation composed by paintings, sculptures, environments and performances and all the elements of artistic expression like music, poetry, prose, light which made Vassiliki one of the most accomplished total artists in the contemporary art with an exceptional record of visitors at her exhibitions.
 
Her most recent work, still in process, was born throughout an extreme experience of hers concerning her personal struggle to deny reality towards the life-threatening condition of a beloved person and to try beyond any limits to search from every aspect of view the contradictory powers both within herself and the interaction with the other. Love for Vassiliki is a state of being and not just a feeling. She narrates her new story in terms of a personal diary with principle heroin herself, expressed by the figure of a young girl, and a chair which is used by the artist as means of elevation, reinforcement, balance, collapse, freedom, presence and absence together. “The chair of V” is born on canvas and celebrates her secret power and identity into the form of a sculpture which will be dominant in the coming new installation under the title “I Believe”.
 
Vassiliki has presented her work in individual exhibitions worldwide attracting more than 2.000.000 visitors with her kinetic enormous installations. She has been honored with distinctions and awards. Most of her works are exhibited permanently in public spaces while others belong to private collections. She lives and works in Greece and Italy.
 
 
Eleni Athanasiou
Art Historian
Christie’s D.E.D