Alex Mylona | Fulfillment | Whatever does not become a monument, becomes an object or an accessory - Εικόνα

The Arrow © Eleni Mylonas 1976-2024 All Rights Reserved

Alex Mylona | Fulfillment
Whatever does not become a monument, becomes an object or an accessory

The revival and/or fulfillment in modern-day terms of Alex Mylona’s vision is proposed by the outdoor exhibition that is presented at the Esplanade of the Cultural Center, curated by Syrago Tsiara, in the context of the collaboration between the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) and the National Gallery - Alexandros Soutsos Museum. 

The concept of the exhibition focuses on female artistic creation as it correlates with historical and institutional reality, restrictive terms, the dream and the praxis of transcendence. It starts out from the sculptural/architectural propositions conceived and implemented by Alex Mylona during the 1970s to unfold as a modular project that converses with the SNFCC’s program and seeks to fulfill the creator’s original vision in modern-day terms of exhibition experience, visibility and participatory action in the public sphere. 

This dynamic project will be kicked off in April, in the context of WOW Athens 2024, with the contribution of artist Eleni MylonasMOMus - Museum Alex Mylona and "Alex Mylona Museum of Contemporary Art" Foundation.

Curatiorial note:
Alex Mylona addresses the photographic lens of Eleni Mylonas wearing her sculptural creations “Gas Station – Armor” and “Incline – Helmet” as a sort of protective gear. Her gaze, both in the full-face angle and in the three-quarter angle version, exudes a sense of calm self-confidence, awareness, as well as readiness. Her form is reflected through the “Airport,” she descends the ladder naked, defines and controls her surroundings, composes the image of her self through the display of her sculptures in the intimate space of her studio. The artist is physically absent only from the “Circular Theater – Fruit Bowl,” one of the six photographs presented in the open-air exhibition at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center Esplanade. Nevertheless, this photo constitutes an even more emphatic summary of Alex’s intention: to make decorative or utilitarian objects of those sculptures that failed to reach their final destination, travelling the distance from their original size to their final actualization. Apart from being a series of special interpretations of the artistic subject, these six vintage archival photographs by Eleni Mylonas are a testament to the encounter of two women, visual artists who are also tiedby the mother-daughter relationship.

Alex Mylona’s proposition on how you can overcome, with grace and ingenuity, the obstacles you face on the way to achieving your artistic vision is a courageous, optimistic and subversive gesture. It was 1976 when she first presented, in an exhibition dedicated to the victims of Cyprus titled Sculpture – Propositions for Architecture, at the art gallery “Polyplano,” those sculptural works—made of zinc sheets or stainless steel— that aspired to evolve into architectural constructions, to inhabit the public space in order to serve a variety of its users’ needs, always with the prospect of gathering as their common denominator, such as a circular theater, a pavilion at an international exhibition, a church, a memorial to the fallen, a museum-school, a gas station, public urinals, an airport, and a museum seat. Until the desired goal for the social function of public sculpture was achieved, Alex Mylona remained undaunted: she invented alternative modes of use, making them wearable, decorative, or utilitarian objects, letting them travel freely and seek their own identity, as she did with her children.

Alex Mylona was born in Athens in 1920. In 1945, the young urbanite, already married to the lawyer and, later, politician George Mylonas and mother of two girls, Maria and Eleni, began to study at the Athens School of fine Arts, at the workshop of Michael Tombros. After completing her studies and having also mothered Alexandros, her third child, she left Greece, travelled to Europe, lived and worked in Paris for long periods of time, and, in 1960, she presented sculptures of hers in the Greek Pavilion at the 30th Venice Biennale.

The first practical realization of Alex Mylona’s vision was made possible in the context of her retrospective exhibition at the Alexandros Soutsos Museum - National Gallery in 1986, when the original model of her work “Development of the Circle – Proposal for a Seat in a Museum” was fashioned in iron, on a large scale, and exhibited in the garden of the National Gallery, to then be installed at the outdoor park of the National Glyptotheque in Goudi. From there, it is being transferred in 2024 to the SNFCC Esplanade to welcome the Cultural Center's audiences and be integrated into a holistic approach to the function of art in public space, which is not limited to aesthetic education, but comprises nuclei of collective interaction, exchange of experiences, workshop activity, and social sharing. It is a sculptural composition created by the harmonious correlation of horizontal and vertical curved surfaces, which intersect to compose, with the purity, simplicity and robust choreography of their volumes, an organic coupling between void and full.

Alex Mylona’s trajectory has been marked by radical twists in terms of socially prescribed roles. She traced a distinct artistic course between drawing, painting and sculpture, to which she devoted herself systematically in pursuit of geometric austerity, acuity, frontality, and the harmonization of opposites. From concrete and limestone to brass, iron, aluminum and marble, she experimented with various materials and conversed with modern artistic trends, such as constructivism and geometric abstraction, without ever relinquishing the cultural memory of archaic sculpture and Cycladic art.

On a personal, professional and social level, she claimed and formed a new, independent identity that came into conflict with motherhood, family life, security, and the limitations of conventions. “We women try to stand on our feet in this male-dominated world, balancing on our edges. This is our struggle,” she confesses in front of the camera in a video-portrait of Alex created by Eleni using archival material in 2016, the year of her death. The photographs featured at the Esplanade are the result of an earlier, unexpected artistic encounter between mother and daughter, in the summer of 1976, in Athens, after an invitation extended by the former to the latter. An inquisitive and restless creator, Eleni responded to the invitation - challenge to meet Alex and photograph her, in a process of redefining the mother - daughter relationship, through the terms allowed by rediscovery, mutual acceptance, and equitable cooperation between the two women.

Alex Mylona was not a conventional, protective mother to her biological children, but this was how she dealt with the works she created. And she made sure to create, from scratch, a museum that bears her name in Asomaton Square, in Thissio, to house them. Alex conceived of and completed this project during her lifetime, fully aware that she was unable to secure its future, but feeling confident of the people who embraced it because they appreciated it. Currently, it operates and welcomes its visitors as a member of the family of the Metropolitan Organisation of Museums of Visual Arts of Thessaloniki – MOMus.

Syrago Tsiara

Art historian, Exhibition curator, Director of the National Gallery - Alexandros Soutsos Museum

 

Alex Mylona | Fulfillment
Whatever does not become a monument, becomes an object or an accessory

Curator: Syrago Tsiara

Architectural design: Maria Maneta

 

Vintage archival photographs of Eleni Mylonas, documents of the 1976 collaboration of two women artists, mother and daughter. 
© Eleni Mylonas 1976-2024 All Rights Reserved

Metal stands construction: Panagiotis Kagaris, pk METALWORKS
Photographic printing: Sdralis Artworks

 

Development of the Circle, 1986 
Overpainted iron 195 x 407 x 407cm
Donated by the artist, 1987
National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum Collection, inv. number 7585

Special adjustments: Athanasios Tzamalis

 

Structural study and supervision: Christos Santorinaios 

Transportation and installation of artworks: Move Art
Insurance of artworks: Marsh

Visual identity: Bend Hyperstudio

English translations: Fotini Pipi
 

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