He was born in Argyrokastro in 1970. In 1991 he settled permanently in Athens. In 1995 he entered the Athens School of Fine Arts from which he graduated in 2002. During his studies he worked as an assistant of Theodoros Papagiannis in his personal studio. During this period, he collaborated with other sculptors, such as Kostas Dikefalos. In 2005, on a scholarship granted by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation, he went to Carrara, Italy, for postgraduate studies; he graduated summa cum laude and was awarded. He lives and works in Athens.
Prosaic Origins •
British School at Athens•
(curated by Nayia Yiakoumaki, organised by NEON)•
Monaco / Monte Carlo•
Ekfrasi – Yianna Grammatopoulou Gallery•
Ekfrasi – Yianna Grammatopoulou Gallery•
Andreas Lolis is a sculptor who works with marble, one of the noblest materials in the history of art. Like the sculptors of the Classical era, he carves ‘realistic’ objects from marble blocks, resembling the original model in shape and scale. Cardboard boxes, ladders and planks of wood become marble effigies of precarious, transitory and unnoticed original objects. Through this traditional method, he elevates the everyday world of abandoned partial objects, makeshift constructions and ordinary things to the status of statues.
Commissioned by NEON Organisation to produce new work for the British School at Athens (BSA), Lolis has embarked on what is his largest public project to date. The BSA and its gardens become a site for a series of new works that enable us to rethink his practice.
The BSA was established in 1886 as part of a wider political and cultural movement that used as its foundation the model of ‘foreign’ educational institutions originating in developed western countries, with the aim of assuming an important role in the modernisation of the recently re-established Greek state. Along with the British School, the French School was established in 1846, the German School in 1874 and the American School in 1881.
For this historical setting, Lolis has created sculptures that collide with the western idealisation of Classical Greek heritage; two large works, constructed for particular locations in the garden, and over twenty smaller works, are placed throughout the exterior and interior spaces of the BSA. These site-specific sculptures are installed in such a way as if they had always been there, abandoned objects, disrupting previously bucolic appreciations of the urban garden and the harmonious equilibrium of the School’s classical architecture.
Lolis skilfully represents objects that surround us but which go mostly unnoticed, as if his artistic mission was to freeze in marble the precarious, the unremarkable and the useless that remain almost invisible. Objects such as carved rubbish bags or goods palettes mark the material and logistical world of consumption, waste and trade; the transitory, yet endless, world of circulation and reproduction. It is within that framework that these objects are frequently reused, re-entering a new cycle: a cardboard box used as material for a shelter, a palette left out the back of a warehouse has the potential t o become a seat, a makeshift ladder and so on. Sometimes the ephem eral life of these objects lasts longer through their new functions. They are certainly part of the ‘landscape of crisis’ of contemporary Greece, indicating at the same time the resourcefulness and the lack of material means of the worst affected by the current economic situation.
Lolis faithfully copies the original object, creating a kind of sculptural trompe-l’oeil. As the impeccable copies that they are, they seduce us immediately. Tapping into the notion of mimesis as an ancient Greek ideal associated with art, the pieces are both a copy of nature and a monument to human craft. And yet, it is not idealised nature as the archetype of beauty that is cast into the marble sculptures, but human made objects with a short economic life. One of the most resistant metamorphic rocks that exists in nature consigns an immediate legitimacy to these sculptural objects due to the cultural value it carries, and the intensity of the labour involved to shape it.
Literally placed on the grounds of the BSA without any marker of their status as sculptures, no base or plinth, they displace the very principles of artistic mimesis, returning the now petrified object to its possible original loca tion. To some extent, the spectator has been deceived twice, as if confronted by a twofold sensorial illusion: at first, the recognition that these imitations are actually not th e physical objects they resemble, and moreover that they are copies made of marble, the same material used for prehistoric monuments and ceremonial venues.
Lolis uses the same material and technique as traditional sculptors of the ancient times, not to idealise the Classical past, but to reminisce and to attest, staging a controversy around the notion of artistic value, what to keep as objects of contemplation. By working with marble, he is not only soliciting us to take these prosaic objects as meaningful and aesthetically interesting, but is also displacing the heavy historical weight of marble sculpture, making it a means of petrification of the precarious and transitory dimension of modern life. These works are monuments of precarity and crisis, but also of reinvention and possibility.
Having these works displayed at the BSA is a statement in its own right. This historical institution, whose scope is to support and enhance research in archaeology, becomes the territory for the installation of objects that defy erosion, the foundation of a future archaeological site. As archaeology for the future, these pieces register the invisible dimensions of contemporary everyday life but also the artistic magical gesture of turning the fleeting into the permanent; an archaeology of ‘poor’ materials and objects, markers of the poor that reuse and recycle them, now fossilised as artworks. Of course, this archaeology for the future is a means of actual self-reflection and questioning; a way of looking into the present from the standpoint of the time to come. In the distant future, when the archaeologists unearth these singular objects, what will they make of them and their prosaic origins?