They say the eye has to travel. The islands in the Aegean Sea, with their rugged rock formations and tonal whitewashed aesthetic, are just the type our eye is drawn to – and not just because of their natural beauty.
On Hydra, a 1.5-hour ferry journey from Athens, the mountainous landscape plays host to the DESTE Foundation's happenings each summer. The fact that no cars are allowed here, is no object. This year, 3 days of events introduced Jeff Koons' eagerly anticipated exhibition Apollo at the foundation's Slaughterhouse Project Space.
Our Cultivist members attended the June 21st opening. during our Athens & Hydra art trip, but there's time until October 31 to see what the provocateur American artist made from his latest commission: a giant sculpture of the sun tops the slaugherhouse now. Inside, works that are Koons-style replicas of ancient sculpture, with contemporary elements such as a pair of Nike sneakers thrown in, narrate a vision on art history that questions the concepts of artificiality and myth-making.
Another annual summer exhibition to take in is that at the Hydra School Projects curated by Dimitrios Antonitsis. Now in its 23rd edition, it gathers up-and-coming Greek and international stars. This time Marina Abromovic, John Bock and Nathan Smith rub shoulders with eight Greek and international artists. Titled Primal Power, it takes place at the Merchant Marine Academy and opens July 8.
Tinos, to the east of Hydra, is home to the Costas Tsoclis Museum. Dedicated, quite unusually, to a living and active painter, it pays tribute to Tsoclis' brand of experimental practice, that clearly bears the stamp of the sea. His work blends the imaginary with the tangible, using trompe l’oeil to express his intense personal connection to that simultaneously calm and menacing force of nature.
Continuing our travels towards Spain and France, there are two other islands on our must-see list: Menorca and Porquerolles. The Balearic island has been an outpost of Hauser & Wirth since just 2021. The art center's exhibition programme spans ambitious new commissions by gallery artists across all media, presented in the beautiful natural setting of Menorca's Mahon harbor among the perennials and plantings designed by Piet Oudolf. This summer until November 19, Rashid Johnson takes over the entire exhibition galleries with Sodade, a newly developed series of bronze sculptures and oil paintings that suggest the possibility of escape and isolation, longing and drifting at sea through their repetition of motif and scale.
At Villa Carmignac in Porquerolles, an island ten minutes off the Hyères coast, discover a labyrinth populated by works of art in a group exhibition featuring works by John Baldessari, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Francesco Clemente, Willem de Kooning, Niki de Saint Phalle, Olafur Eliasson, Leandro Erlich, Urs Fischer and more. Aptly titled Ulysses' Dream, it neatly sums up the epic proportions a classic island holiday can take when paired with troves of contemporary art.
If you'd like to find out about our upcoming art trips or access to tours of these exhibitions, inquire about a Cultivist membership today.
– Words by Siska Lyssens