In February 2015, Tassos A. Gkekas, the owner of The Office gallery in Nicosia, Cyprus, has written an open and inspiring statement to accompany the gallery’s presence at Art Brussels 2015, where it will present new works by Scottish artist Robert Montgomery and Greek artist Dimitris Merantzas. Titled Proof against the obtainment of new artwork, the statement is an authentic address to the maturity and intelligence of art acquisition.
“If someone wishes to allow free breathing to the architecture of a space, he must be as cautious as possible with obtaining new artwork.
“Ownership is, moreover, an act that does not connect with the activities and the ambitions of a collection, especially when this hides a vain and rigid understanding of completion; when, in fact, this very idea is hardly meaningful within the context of our own times. As ambitious as a collector may be, in terms of his aims and interests, he can never individually be completed through the collection. Under this view, there is no substantial need for someone to risk abusing a space to serve a need that has come to a bad habit or exaggeration. Especially when the private space is limited, safekeeping a useless artwork is truly unbearable. A brief illustration of the damage.
“In the way our life is fragmented today, there is almost no free place or time to obtain artworks. The empty and the void are as precious as the full, as exactly for the body, exhaling is as necessary as inhaling. So that ownership stays healthy, it becomes an almost ‘abusive’ and exceptional act in the new ‘survival’ conditions, according to which we owe to throw ourselves in life itself and to not waste time on its substitutes. Perhaps there is no other justification for owning an artwork unless it is treated not just as an object but as a part of life itself – or something with a life of its own. Because, to put it differently, who needs a seascape in front of the sea itself and who needs to replace his beloved one with her portrait?”
“While the work remains material and lifeless, its countenance can reboot life’s conventionality giving you its silent marble company, in a way that is so resulting that you can’t resist. Under these circumstances of understanding constraints, obtaining an artwork is an act of conditional sustained integration and maturity. This process looks like chasing something wild and shadow while you are alone, a beast itself, a substance in vigilant and disciplined wait.
“In occasions like this, you eagerly desire something, which means being willing to coexist with it – its acquisition being viscerally necessary. No one’s advice stops you from getting near it and this is a cruel but a good omen. You have already established a relationship with it that exists outside the art market’s frontiers. In the artwork you recognize a poetical quality that moves you or it may remind you of deeply felt and intense experiences that are both familiar and unaccountable for. So there where, par excellence, there was no room for this artwork, there suddenly is.
“This line of thought has led me to present the Office gallery’s booth with a selection from Merantzas and Montgomery, trying a few days of truce with the conventions of the exhibition space and also a trial with the void, precious space and time. They are unusual pieces that cannot be easily categorised, and that pursue a relentless criticism without loosing their poetry and sense of form or balance. I believe that the selected artwork can be an exception to the rule of the non-legitimate acquisition act and that they mostly concern not collectors but those who are not easy at all on sacrificing their space to the obtainment of new artworks.”
Robert Montgomery was born in Scotland in 1972. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art and then in the core program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He has lived in London since 1999.
Montgomery brings a poetic voice and public interventionist strategies to the tradition of contemporary text art, and works across diverse media: billboard pieces, solar powered light installations, fire poems, woodcuts and watercolours.
The artist has realized major outdoor light installations on the site of the old US Air Force base at Tempelhof in Berlin, and at Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions at venues including KOP, Breda, NL; Athens Festival, GR; the Office gallery, CY; 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, IT; The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, UK; Galerie Nuke, Paris, FR; Guido Costa Projects, Turin, IT; 20 Hoxton Square Projects, London, UK; Galerie Analix Forever, Geneva, CH; The Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh, UK; The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle-Gateshead, UK; The Edinburgh Art Festival, UK; Anna Lupertz Gallery, Berlin; and C24 Gallery, New York. His monographs have been published by Galerie Nuke, Paris, and mono-kultur, Berlin. Forthcoming are a collaboration with the Royal Opera House in Brussels and a monograph published by Distanz.
Montgomery was commissioned by the city of Brussels to place his light installations in one of the historical squares, Place des Martyrs / Martelaarsplein.
Dimitris Merantzas was born in Athens in 1967, where he currently lives and works. He has graduated the L. Stavrakos’ Film and Television School in 1988. Merantzas’s work embraces many aspects of contemporary times, exploring his subjects from different perspectives through a range of mediums and heterogeneous materials. The artist considers form, as important in a work as the emotion that should spring from it, therefore, even in an extremely conceptual work, Merantzas seeks the encounter with the aesthetic form.
Merantzas showcased his work in solo exhibitions like in 2014 Seeking the Common Ground, a retrospective character exhibition at The Blender Gallery, Athens, GR; installations in 2011 in Unknown heroes, Renown heroes, at the Elika Gallery, Athens; Reality is the informer of imagination in 2009 at State museum of contemporary art, Thessaloniki, GR; Untitled in 2006 at the Qbox gallery, Athens; and an exhibition in two units: Useful Three-Digit Numbers and Fantastic Signals in 1996 at the lleana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre, Athens.
He has also participated in various group exhibitions, such as Tradition-Reversal in 2014 at Collegium Artisticum, (in the frame of Winter Festival), catalogue, Sarajevo, BiH; Transition in 2013 at the Municipal Art Gallery of Athens, Provo Principles, Athens; Tradition-Reversal in 2013 at the 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art; Extraversion in 2012 at Sismanogleio Megaron, Istanbul; in ARCO at the Madrid International Exhibition in collaboration with Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre, Athens; ARTmART in 2007 at Kunstlerhaus in Vienna, AU; and Modernity-Project 2000 in 1996 in Fondazione Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, IT.
His work is included in the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Municipal Art Gallery of Chania American College collection, Dakis Joannou collection, Gregory Papadimitriou collection and other private collections.