Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's Afoot in Athens?

Mega Athena by Aids-3D

I don’t want to talk about the societal disaster playing out across Greece in front of the world.

Instead, how about God bless The New York Times?  No, I didn’t get the review.  I just happened to come across a story this week (by Rachel Donadio) on how the financial crisis in Greece has inspired its artists and given burst to a “volcano” of creative energy.  Crisis can do that.  It also gives a lot of people a lot of free time. 

Sadly, buried in the article is the admission by an Athens’ gallery owner that “people are buying less and less.”  In a twisted way perhaps that’s encouraging, for it means even Greeks with disposable income are changing spending habits in recognition of what is upon them.  But, I fear artists and galleries that depend upon a Greek clientele will find suffering for one’s art more the rule than the exception.  

I have many friends on Mykonos who are outstanding, accomplished artists, and though I haven’t pressed them for particulars, I’m relatively confident that non-Greeks are now their primary market.  How could it be otherwise? 

Here is a sample of some of their work.

Greece is a boundless source of inspiration for the arts and so no one should be surprised that much of what’s new is good, or at least interesting.  Nor, in light of the graffiti that plagues Athens, should it shock that one of those highlighted in The Times article is a thirty-year-old British graffiti artist (and former Bristol dentist) who goes simply by the name Bleeps.  Fittingly, his work is in an area of Athens that reminds me of how NYC’s East Village once was.

Here’s a bit of Bleeps’ street art:

Where is it all headed?  That will depend upon a lot of things, much of which is outside the artists’ control.  Perhaps it’s summed up best by what is written on the placard held by the woman in my fourth posted work by Bleeps:  “I dream of love, I long for a customer.” 

May the customers come, and beauty somehow find its way through so much of life today that is not.



  1. Love the art. It's beautiful, reflects that gorgeous blue sky, which is in the highest running for the most fantastic sky views ever.

    On another note, I am sick over the new austerity measure and that it was voted for, even by so-called Socialists -- not my kind of Socialists, that I know.

    What are people going to do? 15% wage cuts, 30,000 govt employees laided off, taxes, etc.

    What will they do?

  2. And, Kathy, let's not forget the VAT (sales tax) has almost doubled, a new across the board real property tax went into effect, and...and...and.

    There seems only one answer to your question: the people will suffer.

    Even if Greek bond holders agree to a 50% "haircut," absent a fundamental change in the country's current way of doing business, the times will be very bleak indeed.

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