During the economic crisis, many Greek artists left behind the economic uncertainty of Athens in search of better opportunities abroad. In the last few years, however, the city has attracted a return of these artists and held onto newly emerging talent through its energetic creative scene. The best place to witness this phenomenon, as well as sample international art, is in Athens’ top contemporary galleries, ten of which are listed here.
The Breeder Gallery
Housed in an old ice cream factory, The Breeder Gallery is one of several contemporary art spaces to open in the Metaxourgeio district in the last decade. Since the financial crisis of 2009, it has sought to ‘dynamically promote a select group of emerging Greek artists on the global arena.’ The gallery represents artists such as Andreas Angelidakis, whose mixed media works blur the boundaries between architecture, writing, curating and the Internet. A truly international establishment, The Breeder also works to build strong relationships between art platforms around the world, with its artists participating in major biennales and fairs, including the Athens Biennale. Furthermore, The Breeder opened a satellite gallery space in Monte Carlo, Monacom in 2013.
The Breeder Gallery, Iasonos 45, Athens, Greece, +30 210 331 7527
Vamiali’s was the first contemporary art gallery in the Metaxourgeio area of downtown Athens. Sofia Vamiali opened the gallery in 2004 in a four-storey fully renovated building that belonged to her family. In the years following the gallery’s appearance, the popular immigrant district of Metaxourgeio became one of the most talked about art hotspots of the city. Galleries like Vamiali’s have also been attracting attention with unusual and enticing exhibitions.
THE ARTIST & THE PRACTICE! is one such show, which demonstrated the working processes of nine artists, from concept to final product, complete with insightful notes, sketches and photographs that are usually hidden from public view. Its diverse and dynamic programme includes solo and group exhibitions of emerging and established contemporary international artists along with a series of curatorial projects initiated by curators, art-connoisseurs and guests. Since its inauguration, Vamiali’s has presented the work of more than 100 artists through solo and group exhibitions where some introduced to the Greek viewers for the first time.
Vamiali’s, Samou 1, Athens, Greece, +30 210 522 8968
For 21 years the Bernier/Eliades Gallery was located in the stylish, commercial district of Kolonaki, before moving to the historic area of Thission in 1999. Throughout this time, Jean Bernier and Marina Eliades have been championing a variety of artistic genres, including arte povera, minimalism, land art and conceptual art. Their gallery has taken a global stance, welcoming a young generation of Americans and Europeans, in addition to Greek artists. Past exhibitions have involved the likes of Annette Messager, whose internationally acclaimed works combine collections of objects, words, photographs and textiles, sometimes revealed by, or trapped in netting, exploring ideas of domesticity, femininity and the human condition.
Bernier/Eliades Gallery, Eptachalkou 11, Athens, Greece, +30 210 341 3936-7
Eleni Koroneou Gallery
In 1989, Eleni Koroneou founded a gallery that would become one of Athens’ most innovative pioneers of contemporary art. For its first two decades the gallery was located close to the Acropolis, but has since moved to a neoclassical building in Thission. Along with other key galleries in Athens, Eleni Koroneou Gallery can be credited with introducing an increasing number of Greek collectors to contemporary art and raising its profile among the general public. Its past catalogue of exhibitors includes internationally renowned artists, such as Michel Majerus, Helmut Middendorf, Martin Kippenberger, Dieter Roth and Michael Schmidt.
Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Dimofontos 30/ Thorikion 7, Athens, Greece, +30 210 341 1748
Astrolavos Art Galleries
A blend of exhibition spaces and art shops, the Astrolavos Art Galleries feature many well-known Greek artists and designers. This amalgamation started in 1986 with the Astrolavos Piraeus art gallery exhibiting pieces by new artists as well as established ones, such as Yannis Tsarouhis. This ethos continued with the opening of Astrolavos Dexameni Gallery in 1994, which has shown work by the likes of Costas Tsoclis, Giorgio de Chirico and Dimitris Mytaras. The latter also benefits from a modern architectural space, allowing different styles to be displayed on each of the three levels.
Rebecca Camhi Gallery
Founded in 1995, the Rebecca Camhi Gallery used to overlook the Parthenon on Sophokleous Street, but has since been re-housed in a neoclassical building in the up-and-coming Metaxourgeio area. The gallery represents well-known Greeks like Konstantin Kakanias, Takis, Mantalina Psoma and Nikos Alexiou. Further to this, it showcases talent from a wealth of international artists, including London-based Paul Desborough, whose unconstrained, vibrantly coloured ‘paint-skins’ were the subject of a recent show here. Said exhibition was part of ReMap 4, the 2013 edition of the biennial contemporary art event focusing around the city’s Kerameikos-Metaxourgeio quarter. Visitors to Rebecca Camhi Gallery will also find a small boutique called 9 bis, selling jewellery and ceramics by designers and artists, such as DeAnna Maganias.
Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Leonidou 9, Athens, Greece, +30 210 523 3049
Titanium Yiayiannios Gallery
Since 1987 Titanium Yiayiannios Gallery has presented over 300 solo exhibitions by Greek and foreign artists, as well as countless group shows. Examples of its thought-provoking exhibitions include fluid architectural paintings by Panagiotis Siagreece that play tricks with the mind, and haunting figures of Athens’ Tositsa Street, depicted in oil and tar by Petros Koufovassilis. The gallery has also participated in numerous art fairs, such as Art-Athina, ‘the largest annual visual arts event in Greece’ and ‘one of the longest-lasting contemporary art fairs in Europe.’
Titanium Yiayiannios Gallery, Leoforos Vasileos Konstantinou 44, Athens, Greece, +30 210 729 7644
Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center
One of the first multi-purpose artistic spaces in Athens, the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center opened in 1988. Past shows have displayed a wide range of works, from Zoe Hatziyannaki’s secretive photographs of Athens’ public institutions, to Martha Dimitropoulou’s Mercedes S500, made entirely from pine needles. Furthermore, this diversity stretches beyond its exhibition programme, encompassing music events, festivals, lectures, publications, book presentations, poetry readings and theatre performances. The industrial-looking art centre also houses a bookshop, as well as the luxurious 48 The Restaurant, which has earned a citywide reputation for its exceptional food.
Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Armatolon ke Klefton 48, Athens, Greece, +30 210 643 9466
20 Kolonaki Sq.
The Zoumboulakis family have been selling art and antiques in Athens since 1912. In the 1970s they opened a large exhibition space at 20 Kolonaki Square showing, among others, sculptures by world-renowned Greek artists Takis and Chryssa. The family have since opened two additional venues in Athens, collectively known as Zoumboulakis Galleries. 20 Kolonaki Sq. has continued to focus on contemporary art, with exhibitions such as Sophia Papacosta’s ink jet drawings that deal with fears and phobias, or the complete audio-visual experience of Harris Kondosphyris’ installation, New Wreck – Acting in the Lost Space.
Zoumboulakis Galleries, 20 Kolonaki Square, Athens, Greece, +30 210 360 8278
Founded in 1983, Gallery 7 takes a pluralistic approach to art, representing a diverse range of practitioners, from painters and engravers, to photographers and installation artists. Much of the emerging talent at Gallery 7, consists of work by young artists, especially graduates of the Athens School of Fine Arts. Of the gallery’s past exhibitions, the atmospheric paintings of Australian Chrys Roboras are particularly striking, often featuring a lone figure in a vast empty landscape. Photographs by Marina Birdmiri are also mesmerising with their representation of derelict Greek buildings overlaid with colourful images of this beautiful country.
Gallery 7, Solonos 20/ Voukourestiou, Athens, Greece, +30 210 361 2050