On a warm balmy day in early July, Cream Athens presented its second major exhibition in central London. WHIPPED was an ambitious exhibition which featured 23 artists from all over the world including artists from Costa Rica, The United States, Greece, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
Spearheaded by head honcho and creative mastermind, artist and curator Nia Hefe Filiogianni, WHIPPED had an open call which invited artists working with paint, sculpture, photography and video art to have the opportunity to have their art selected to be part of the critically successful show at the Coningsby Gallery at Goodge Street, a stone’s throw from London’s eclectic Soho district.
With enormous ceramic pieces to expansive indigo dyed cotton flags, neon installations and egg-shaped latex panels, Cream Athens’ second exhibition explored nowness and the issues of contemporary culture as well as the next stage of the evolution.
The exhibition featured some of the art scene’s exciting talent including Taiwanese artists Huang Chichia Pao Leng Kung; Athens based artists, Emily Gaki and Odysseas Glykas, Maria Kalaoglou, John Valyrakis, Dimitris Nkotos and Mara Kallinikou. The show also had African representatives in the form of works by Ocean Africa darlings, South African photographer Neo Gilder and Zimbabwean-British visual artist Fungai Marima. Costa Rican artist Camila Gonzalez Corea featured work along with US artists Lauren Fejarang and Elliot Avis. The UK continent was strong with Eve de Haan, Alex Jones, Sam Creasey and Henry Glover all showing new works alongside London-based Greek artists Artemis Vergou, Christina Anagnostou, Irini Bachlitzanaki and Ocean Africa’s own visual artist George Petsikopoulos.
Inspired by Cream’s origin in Athens, and the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus sage words: “Ta panta rhei”, or , in more familiar words, ‘‘Everything is in a state of becoming”. Heraclitus was the first writer to speak about the fluid nature of things. He proclaimed - “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”. Nothing is forever and everything is in a state of constant and continuous change.
Based on the underpinning philosophies of Heraclitus, WHIPPED aimed to arouse the viewer’s visual senses; blending together the 23 artists, embarking the viewer on a journey through visual fantasia and notable delight. Gently guiding them through an array of the world’s current complexities; skilfully interwoven displays of everyday objects inciting new meanings; drawings and ceramics, fusing socio-political themes; paintings that critically inspire, mind altering experiences and distorted realities. Embedded performance, almost shapeshifting in form of visual extrapolations. WHIPPED is a wunderlust exposition of bold nostalgic ephemera, playfully chaperoning you through an existential state of self.
Ocean Africa was delighted to speak to WHIPPED curator Nia Hefe Filiogianni about Cream Athens’ second exhibition:
Ocean Africa: Tell us about some of the other brands that you collaborated with for this show?
Nia Hefe Filiogianni: This year we wanted our show to be more than an exhibition. Along with the fact that we love collaborating with new talented and creative people, we decided that in one week, we will include workshops, events, gallery tours as well as the installation of an art shop within the gallery. We understand that not everyone is able to buy an art piece so we thought of addressing all different kinds of visitors. Personally, I love having something from every show I visit, but this always depends on how much money I can spend! In our shop, we had limited edition pieces from the exhibiting artists but we were also showcasing Hot Sauce Mag, a limited edition publication demystifying the realities of womanhood. With Hot Sauce Mag we organised a special freelancer event where creatives had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas of future collaborations. I love those kinds of events and I believe that the biggest collaborations begin from an event like this. In terms of sponsorship we were supported by UAL Students Union (University of Arts London), the second best school for art and design in the world as well as support from CASS ART and GREAT ART in providing art materials for our workshops and events.
OA: What were people drinking during the show?
NHF: The show was sponsored by Amathus Drinks, Fix Hellas and Otto’s Athenian Vermouth. We were mainly drinking Fix Hellas beer and Athenian spritz made by Otto’s Athenian Vermouth. We felt that we had to collaborate with brands that represent CREAM’s origins and it was with great pleasure that we collaborated with such amazing big Greek alcohol brands.
OA: What kind of workshops did you have during the duration of the Whipped show?
NHF: During the show we had illustration and screen printing workshops taking place in the gallery space. We collaborated with Salome Papadopoulos, a talented female illustrator from the UK with Greek origins and Jairo and Nicola, a really talented couple from the UK. Salome Papadopoulos hosted two illustration workshops where she revealed the secrets of drawing. All her work looks like it’s made digitally but in reality, it is all by hand and this is what makes her technique unique.
Jairo and Nicola hosted a screen-printing workshops really different from the ones I attended as an artist. Their multiple layered patterns and vivid colours make someone think that their work too, is digitally printed. The truth is Jairo and Nicola’s work reveals the artist’s passion and patience for perfection.
OA: Women are prevalent in all aspects of Cream Athens. What do you favour most about the feminine form? How do you believe art may empower women? Tell us your favourite women in history?
NHF: Every year, Cream Athens focuses on a narrative and works around that. Last year we had the ‘Neoprotofemist show’ and the theme was ‘female empowerment’. This year, due to the Brexit situation in the UK we focused on giving artists the opportunity to exhibit in the heart of London, something that they might not be able to do in some years. The theme of Whipped is nowness and the fluidity of things. For this show we focused to bring a lot of Greek artists in London but also favour other parts of the world. We were really pleased to see that people travelled from Athens, Los Angeles and Taiwan to visit the show.
Cream Athens aesthetic can be categorised as feminine but we believe that it’s a matter of perception. I believe in empowerment through art in any form. I am intrigued with art that questions the idea of empathy, gentleness and sensitivity, all traits traditionally cited as feminine. From the time I was a student until now I get inspiration from artists like Tracey Emin, Judy Chicago, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Bridget Riley and Tamara De Lempicka.
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