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About the artist
About the exhibition
Stephen Antonakos (Laconia, 1930 – New York, 2013) returns to CITRONNE Gallery with the solo exhibition "ANTONAKOS: MARKING TIME“. It is a selective retrospective (1960-2009) of the oeuvre of this major artist, in which time is "marked". It comprises 29 pieces —wall-mounted neon works, reliefs from the "Alphavitos" (Alphabet) series, paintings on parchment, studies for projects and the “Tears” series of prints— which are milestones in the artist's work in terms of his media and his key ideas.
Stephen Antonakos lived and worked in New York, where he made his name with his austere neon works. He started using neon light in 1960. While neon is associated with the mass nature of advertising and in particular with American consumerism, in his use of it Antonakos negates all references to its realistic use in advertising and adopts a rigorously abstract and minimalist script in which neon light gradually acquires a different conceptual and sculptural value.
His non-representational, minimalist art is based on the dynamic tension between complete and elliptical geometric shapes —rectangles, squares, circles and lines— and vivid colours. His sculptures and paintings show clear architectural elements; the clean compositions convey an imagery that focuses on the relationship between colours and abstract forms. There is a dominant feeling of rhythm, motion and spirituality. A strictly abstract artist, he describes his work as "real things in real spaces in the here and now" - a direct visual and spatial experience without illusions, mental associations or references outside the artwork itself. Paintings, coloured or lined with gold foil, with coloured neon light behind the edges, works on parchment, installations, meditation rooms, chapels and Artist's Books featured in his numerous exhibitions in the USA and Europe for over forty years.
The Citronne gallery exhibition presents a turning point in his career: a series of nine rare drawings among the early studies of Antonakos for the creation of installations, with which he experimented in the 1960s. All his sculptures and installations begin from drawings on paper. In these visual environments he extends the drawing qualities of neon into three-dimensional space.
After 1980, Antonakos has regular contact with Greece. He experiments with juxtapositions between the radiation of electric light and surfaces of solid colour, with ample tonal grades and layers of colour, where neon becomes a mystical light. This phase is characterized by works with a spiritual aura, in which the references to Byzantine art become concrete and clearer. In the works of his 2007 exhibition, neon radiates like a luminous halo from behind the gilded surfaces of wood.
A member of the Greek Diaspora, Stephen Antonakos was a pioneering artist of note. By the mid-1970s he had already established an international reputation, with numerous works in museum collections and public spaces throughout the world. In the late 1970s, over 45 of his large-scale public works were permanently installed in the USA, Europe and Japan.
The show at CITRONNE Gallery will run in parallel with the exhibition of drawings by Stephen Antonakos at New York's Bookstein Projects in May 2021.