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Virtual Gallery: Alcohol

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

Curated by Deligina Prifti

Alcohol is one of those words that carries a personal correlation, lights up a recent or long forgotten memory . Mothers putting a homemade liqueur in their cakes, friends stealing beers from beach bars, late night confessions or anxious dates made soother with a glass of wine, or dizziness after two shots of tsipouro at a Cretan village festival in August. When it comes to alcohol there are so many references throughout the history of humankind which almost match the countless moments of its consumption. As the writer William Faulkner once said “ Civilization begins with distillation”. A civilized society embraces the animalistic instincts as crucial balancing aspects of the human nature, a nature that is to say transformative, that includes both divine and cannibalistic potential. Alcohol stands in between this “transformation” as its carrier, its medium. A medium that can be both enjoyable and uncontrollable.

Alcohol is in that instance a subject of study and ponder with the help of this Virtual Gallery. We are grateful to all the distinguished guests, or co-curators if I say so myself, for trusting us and sharing with us some of their favorite artworks which relate to the subject of alcohol. A journey through the art is often quite an unexpected journey, no matter how old or recent a the artworks are and it is for that reason that Virtual Gallery has come to existence.

Please do wander around.

Kassiani Benou

Communications Manager

at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens ( EMST )

a. Garry Winogrand, Metropolitan Opera, New York,1951.

Ferocious Urbanites Pavlina Voulgaraki  Kassiani Benou  Argyris Xafis Alexandra Masmanidi Alexandros Kouris Fondas Tazes art Athens

"The world through Winogrand's black and white lenses is extraordinary. He was a street photographer, mainly in New York, capturing the american everyday life. In this picture he shots a couple, who glamorously and playfully enjoys a cocktail in the Metropolitan Opera". Benou, K.

Curator's insight:

In 1984 Garry Winogrand died leaving behind 6,500 roll of unprocessed film. His prolific production is indicative of his photographical legacy. Winogrand’s iconic snaps are odes to the vibrancy of life in the streets of New York. His photos pulsate with the clumsiness and imperfection in human nature making the lack of technical precision a conscious stylistic choice.

b. Andy Warhol, The original bottles that Warhol designed for the Absolut Warhol campaign, 1986

" In 1986 Absolute Vodka commissioned Andy Warhol to redesign their bottles .It was part of a larger campaign in order to affiliate themselves with the contemporary art scene. Pop art then becomes an unmissable element of the modern and contemporary era".

Benou, K.

Argyris Xafis


a. Max Hooper Schneider, Blood Alcohol Level CH95X, 2014.

b. Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas,1656.

" I chose these two artworks to be observed as a dipole rather than each one individually. On the one hand, the work of Schneider is sufficiently self-explanatory, meaning that the alcohol becomes a projection, a muse. On the other, I chose Velazquez because apart from being one of the greatest painters who ever joined the arts Pantheon, it was believed to be an alcoholic. Of course, we do not know in which extend these vices influenced his work,

but it is a rather interesting thought to imagine that his acute sight coexisted with a drunken body”. Xafis, A.

Curator’s insight:

In the history of art there a few paintings as emblematic as Velazquez Las Meninas. No matter how tempting it might be, we shall not focus on the historical and stylistic references, but rather on its contemporary effect. We can see the painting as a study of space, of physical and mental space and, most of all as the “space of the gaze”. Velazquez decorates the room with mythological paintings, an attribute to his icon Peter Paul Rubens. Paintings overflowing with profound emotions and traceable scenarios - with all the figures looking at each other. But where do the people in Las Meninas look at? Are they looking at us? At him? And how long have they been looking? Are they looking now? We move simultaneously towards and away from them, whilst we try to decode their gaze. How do we look back in eyes that are already watching and how easy it to make assumptions by a lifelike stare in a painting? Or in life.

Ferocious Urbanites Pavlina Voulgaraki  Kassiani Benou  Argyris Xafis Alexandra Masmanidi Alexandros Kouris Fondas Tazes art Athens

Alexandra Masmanidi

Photographer / Visual Artist

a. Alexandra Masmanidi, 2017.

Ferocious Urbanites Pavlina Voulgaraki  Kassiani Benou  Argyris Xafis Alexandra Masmanidi Alexandros Kouris Fondas Tazes art Athens

" The dionysiac fluster reconciles humans to their human nature.

Τhe Ritual shutters the principles of individualism. Instinct fights Reason and the primal impulses rise". Masmanidi, A.

Curator’s insight:

The ambiguity between the apollonian and dionysian Self has been a constant philosophical ponder since antiquity. The most known theory is the one of Nietzsche, where in his book The Birth of Tragedy he became enraptured with the god of wine and ecstasy, depicting him as the ultimate tragic figure.