The Day Before the Western Wind is not only Limassol’s newest exhibition that will open on March 31, it is also Despina Charitonidi’s first solo exhibition on the island. Running until May 6 at eins gallery in the old town of Limassol, the exhibition showcases a variety of artforms that examine the relationship between humans and the climate.
Writing about the artist’s exhibition, Eleni Tsopotou says: “For the show, the artist created an environment that reflects on ideas of beauty and destruction, life and death, presenting the seen and unseen natural and artificial mechanisms that motivate human actions and have prompted the climate catastrophe.” Her installation combines painting, sculpture, and performative elements that critique the climate emergency and how humans have brought it about.
“In the Anthropocene era – in which humans have become geological agents, changing the physical processes of the earth – a time of climate change and chaos, of late capitalism, global pandemic, and extreme urbanisation, humans have experienced subsequent disasters with unprecedented results and long, significant grief for the loss of natural environments and human lives,” Tsopotou continued. “In The Day Before the Western Wind, Charitonidi presents a new body of work continuing her focus on nature, human intervention, and the game of power between man and nature.” Notions of balance and power in the time of climate change are presented in the context of a post-apocalyptic environment with a floral landscape made of black clay combined with materials collected in the aftermath of the major fire in 2018 in Mati, Attica, the deadliest urban fire in the history of modern Greece.
“Charitonidi transforms pieces of cars that have been burned in the fire into a forest that grows (or decays) from a series of canvases laid on the floor. Artworks and visitors are exposed to UV lights that gradually transform the surfaces of the blank canvases which have been treated with photosensitive chemicals, changing the canvases while at the same time also affecting and transforming the visitors’ experience. Charitonidi positions the process at the centre of the exhibition. It is a decision that both reveals the artistic process, making it part of the show rather than some invisible effort that precedes it, while also exposing the visitor directly to the threat and danger of the UV light, bringing the harm of climate change to the forefront of the project.”
In the gallery’s courtyard, two half-moon sculptures lead visitors toward the main installation, trying to alert them to what they are about to encounter. A crystal sculpture on the exterior wall presents the fluidity and the fragility of human nature and of our natural environment.
“Over the past few years,” she concludes, “Charitonidi has developed a distinctive personal artistic language that transforms elements found in construction sites and other places through a process of examination of and experimentation with their properties, resulting in sculptural gestures that reconsider the environmental impact of human action. The artist constructs a world made of earth and ashes commemorating nature and expresses her personal preoccupation with the environment, inviting viewers to reflect on our climatic future.”
The Day Before the Western Wind
Solo exhibition by Despina Charitonidi. March 31-May 6. Eins Gallery, Limassol. Opening night: 7pm-10pm. Wednesday – Friday: 4pm-8pm. Saturday: 11am-4pm or by appointment. Tel: 99-522977