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Alexis Akrithakis

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Alexis Akrithakis (Αλέξης Ακριθάκης* 1939-1994) was a greek contemporary artist renowned for his paintings and wooden constructions. The originality of his works and non-conformistic way of living places him among the most rebellious and independent figures in the European art scene of his time.

Life  & Work

Alexis Akrithakis was  born in Athens, Greece in 1939. His first public drawing dates back to 1955 when he is still a student and was published in the school newspaper.

In 1958 he moved to  Paris in order to attend the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

He never finished his studies but during his stay there he was associated with such diverse artists as Thanos Tsigos, Christina Tsigou, Léo Ferré, Yannis Gaitis, Alberto Giacometti and Jean Seanberg.

In 1960 he returns to Greece for his military service, during which his first solo exhibition in 1961 takes place in Neo Iraklio, Athens.

His first solo show in Thessaloniki takes place in 1963 at the Veltsos Gallery.

In 1965 he exhibits at the French Institute in Athens and the poet Nanos Valaoritis prefaces the catalogue. He creates illustrations for the avant-garde literary review Pali.

Akrithakis is connected in deep friendship with writers and poets such as Kostas Tachtsis, Giorgos Makris and Tasos DenegrisElias Petropoulos, Dimitris T. Analis and the Austrian poet Friederike Mayröcker, he collaborates systematically with all of them and creates book covers and illustrations for their books.

In the same year, he participates in the “I. Internationale Ausstellung Objektiver Poesie und Malerei” in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1967 his artworks are presented for the first time outside Greece in a solo exhibition at the Hammer Gallery in Berlin. A year later, an exhibition of his works is organised by the Goethe Institute in Athens with an introduction by Christos Joachimides. In 1968 he receives a scholarship from the DAAD (Deutsche Akademische Ausstauschdienst) and moves to Berlin. he marries Fotini (Fofi) Koutselini and their daughter Chloe is born. Solo exhibitions follow in Berlin, Hamburg, Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf. His collaboration with Alexander Iolas begins in 1971 and will last until the end of the life the latter. Iolas will support his work and will present it systematically outside and within Greece.

In the ’70s his prolific art expanded to the design of items that include furniture, textiles etc with the collaboration of Polyplano, Athens.  

Meanwhile he and his wife Fofi are becoming part of the Berlin scene. In 1977 Fofi opens the “Εστιατόριο”, a restaurant that will write history in Berlin’s nightlife. Alexis is involved in the decoration and creates the bronze lightnings. Famous artist and intellectuals of the 20th century such as Francis Bacon, Heiner Müller, Jannis Kounellis, Rebecca Horn, Peter Stein, Andy Warhol, Wim Wenders, Daniel Barenboim, Alfred Brendel, Robert Wilson, Joseph Beuys as well as Berlin’s high society and politicians will all eat, drink and celebrate at the famous restaurant.[1][2][3]

In the same year the exhibition in the gallery of Jean and Karen Bernier takes place. In this gallery he will present three solo exhibitions until 1984, among artists like Jannis Kounellis, Mel Bochner, Stephen Antonakos, Brice Marden, Mario Merz, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Lucas Samaras, Gilberto Zorio, Giulio Paolini, Marisa Merz, Wolfgang Laib, Richard Long, Michael Buthe, and Bruce Nauman.[4]

In 1979 he participates in the " Von Schlemmer zu Max Ernst " exhibition at the Museum der Kunst in Hannover.

In 1984 he permanently returns to Greece and he participates in the presentation of the Alexander Iolas Collection in an exhibition establishing the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, the first museum of contemporary art in Greece in Thessaloniki.

During the 80s and until his early death in 1994 he realises several shows throughout Greece presenting different projects that included: the installation "Bar", a collaboration with the artist Giorgos Lappas on a series of drawings under the theme of circus, kites, a series of pencil drawings of flowers, magnifications of older drawings, caricature portraits of greek contemporary artists,  

His last solo exhibition takes place at the Ileana Tounta Gallery, Athens, in 1993.

Alexis Akrithakis health was damaged from his turbulent and bohemian life style and on September 19th, 1994 he passed away after a heart attack. He is buried in the cemetary of Neo Iraklio Attikis, Athens.

His last big project include a notebook with drawings depicting patients in Dromokaitio during his own stay at the institution. The notebook was stolen before his death. However, the artist had been well aware of the significance those drawings had for himself – he had photocopied them in time.

Recognition

In 1997 a large retrospective exhibition is organized, presenting almost all of his work at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki.

In 1998 the retrospective exhibition is shown in the The National Art Gallery–Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens, Greece.[5]

In 2003 the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) in Berlin honors Alexis Akrithakis with a large scale retrospective show running alongside an exhibition of Pablo Picasso works in the same museum.[6]

In 2017 his work “Eight Suitcases with Rubbish from a Beach” (1972)  where included at the Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Haibach, Philipp (2016-08-28). "Fofi Akrithakis: Nachruf auf die Westberliner Wirtin". DIE WELT. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  2. "Deutsches Historisches Museum: A Restaurant called Restaurant in Berlin – Fofi's Story". www.dhm.de (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  3. Weedman, Krista. "BERLIN BY NIGHT". Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  4. "Bernier/Eliades Gallery - Publications - English Catalogue 1977-1998". www.bernier-eliades.gr. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  5. "Ακριθάκης Αλέξης" (in Ελληνικά). Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  6. Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu. "Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: Ausstellungen". Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  7. "Alexis Akrithakis". Retrieved 2018-05-25. 


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