Curatorial Research Programme: Still Life Painting

Curatorial Research Programme: Still Life Painting

The second “Residency Programme for Academic and Curatorial Research of Contemporary Greek Art” organised by “The other Arcadia” Foundation (Athens) in collaboration with The Courtauld Institute of Art (London), commenced on 26th September and ended on 6th November 2022.

The second resident to travel and spend time in Athens was Kirk Patrick H. Testa, who completed his MA in History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art in June 2022. Kirk Patrick H. Testa was selected by a committee consisting of:
Deborah Swallow, Director, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Anna Somers Cocks OBE, Founder of the “Arts Newspaper”, Elisabeth Plessa, art historian-curator, Caroline Levitt, Head of Curatorial Department, The Courtauld Institute of Art and Daphne Politi, Head of Residency Programme, The Sotiris Felios Collection.

Kirk Patrick H. Testa spent 6-weeks in Athens where he was introduced to artists and leading art professionals living and working in Greece, while also had the chance to engage in extended conversations with Sotiris Felios. Based on his proposal researching “contemporary still life painting”, a bespoke programme of visits, discussions and exhibition tours was designed, centering around painting techniques, archaeology, art history, stillness and conceptualism.

Kirk’s research culminated into the exhibition Poetics of the Ordinary: Still Lifes from The Sotiris Felios Collection. The exhibition included more than 40 paintings and sculptures from the Collection created by more than 20 artists. For its presentation, Kirk engaged in conducting research through interviews, museum visits and books, while also planning and executing the organisation of the exhibition and writing the curatorial text and the main text of the press release.

The exhibition

The Courtauld Institute of Art, London and The Sotiris Felios Collection present the exhibition Poetics of the Ordinary: Still Lifes from the Sotiris Felios Collection curated by Kirk Patrick H. Testa. The exhibition opens on Wednesday 2nd November 2022 at 18.00-21.00 at the art space 16 Fokionos Negri Athens.

Poetics of the Ordinary: Still Lifes from the Sotiris Felios Collection is the first exhibition presented in the context of the Residency Programme and is the culmination of curator Kirk Patrick H. Testa’s six-week residency in Athens, during which he immersed himself in its vibrant arts community and developed his research and curatorial practice through meeting artists and art professionals from leading museums and galleries of Greece.

It comprises paintings, drawings, and sculptures by: Tasos Aridas, Christos Bokoros, Chronis Botsoglou, Leda Contogiannopoulou, Stefanos Daskalakis, Michel Fais, Panos Fidakis, Stratigoula Giannikopoulou, Maria Hadjiandreou, Dimitris Hantzopoulos, Konstantinos Kerestetzis, Alecos Levidis, Afroditi Liti, Andreas Lolis, Natalia Mela, Louiza Missiou, Vally Nomidou, Kostas Papanikolaou, Vasilis Papanikolaou, Kostas Papatriantafyllopoulos, Yannis Psychopedis, Giorgos Rorris, Pavlos Samios, Anna Maria Tsakali, and Popi Tsoukatou.

Curator’s note

Historically considered the lowest of the types of painting, the still life genre is a locus of oppositional forces: the fragment and the whole, the ephemeral and the eternal, or the sacred and the profane. Despite its simplicity in subject matter through the representation of mundane objects, this genre of painting encourages beholders to perform slow looking, an experience corrupted by our digital age’s deluge of images. This problem of having ‘too much world’, as coined by media theorist Hito Steyerl, stems from the ungraspable velocity of data and information within our globalized digital world.

One remedy to the nausea and angst produced by the twenty-four-hour news cycle and algorithmic social media feeds are encounters with art that invite beholders to pause, slow down, and reflect on lived reality. Poetics of the Ordinary: Still Lifes from the Sotiris Felios Collection offers such an opportunity. Comprising works from The Sotiris Felios Collection, this exhibition offers insight not only into the sensibilities of the collector, but also an opportunity to witness the continuity between classical and contemporary Greek culture.

Sparking dialogue between the public and the still life works in the collection, this exhibition also features a social media campaign inviting the public to submit digital still life photographs from everyday life, using hashtag ‘#stillathens’. Including these photographs in the exhibition will help produce a contrapuntal relationship between the rhythms of contemporary life and the works from the collection.

The Sotiris Felios Collection “Residency Programme for Academic and Curatorial Research of Contemporary Greek Art” is funded by “The other Arcadia” Foundation and is supported by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.