Cris Gianakos “Works On Mylar 1983-1989”

Minus Space

poster for Cris Gianakos “Works On Mylar 1983-1989”
[Image: Cris Gianakos "Pegasus Series, Uranus II, 9.30.85" (1985) Mixed media on Mylar, 96 x 93 in.]

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MINUS SPACE presents Cris Gianakos: Works on Mylar 1983-1989, a two-part solo exhibition featuring mid- and large-format artworks by the esteemed NYC-based artist. This is Gianakos’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.

Cris Gianakos has created innovative sculpture, installation, painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, and performance since the mid-1960s. He is historically aligned with a diverse group of New York artists who, in the late 1960s and 70s, abandoned the industrial aesthetics and static forms of Minimalism. Later referred to as Post-Minimalists, Gianakos and his peers embraced process, structure, materiality, site-specificity, scale, and temporality as artistic mediums.

Best known for his iconic ramp sculptures, Gianakos has been engaged in non-objective painting and drawing since the mid-1970s, employing nontraditional materials and techniques in direct dialogue with his three-dimensional work. In the early 1980s, Gianakos embarked on a new body of mixed media works on large sheets of Mylar, a semi-translucent polyester film originally developed for industrial purposes several decades earlier. Gianakos felt the durable, yet translucent material possessed a certain cinematic quality which was reminiscent of the unique light in his native Greece.

Working flat on the floor, Gianakos experimented with various types of Mylar, each possessing a slightly different surface coating, to which he applied an array of materials including acrylic, ink, graphite, water, and solvent in both an additive and subtractive manner. As the artist recalls, the various Mylars were “very sympathetic to the touch and would respond to me in different ways, the effects of which were quite subtle but important.”

The resulting works vary widely in scale and each feature a single, richly-black geometric shape – such as the inverted triangle of his Delta series or the tapered rectangle of his Mastaba series – presented against a more gestural, fluid ground achieved through erasure and tinted with muted hues of red, brown, green, blue, and silver. Graphic elements within the spatially-activated fields appear to be in a state of transformation, evocative of architectural masses, topographic formations, and emblematic signs imbued with implied movement.

Describing the shifting pictorial metaphors in the Mylar works, poet and writer John Yao, in a 2005 text on the artist, writes: “In some works the monumental forms can be read either as massive presences or as doorways opening onto a receding space. In others, a light absorbing geometric shape sits in or enters an atmospheric field.”

First exhibited at Gallery Nordenhake in Malmö, Sweden (1984), works from the series were subsequently shown in the artist’s solo exhibition RAMPWORKS at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1989). In his catalogue essay accompanying the latter exhibition, artist and writer Stephen Westfall draws parallels between Gianakos’s two- and three-dimensional works, suggesting that the geometric forms in the works on Mylar refer to the sculptural planes of the ramp works viewed either frontally or in perspective. Together with the inherent translucency of the Mylar, the intensive surface produced by the acrylic, ink, and solvent generates a resonant light that echoes the visual and spatial experience of Gianakos’s sculpture in situ.

Part I of the exhibition at the gallery will run from January 7 – February 11. Part 2 will be on view from February 18 – March 25.

Cris Gianakos (b. 1934 in New York, NY; lives in New York, NY, and Chania, Crete, Greece) has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including in the United States, Europe, Japan, Argentina, Canada, and Senegal.

His recent museum exhibitions include the Municipal Art Gallery (Chania, Crete, Greece), Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Hamburg), Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete, (Rethymnon, Greece), MOMus Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki), MOMus Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection (Thessaloniki), MOMus Museum Alex Mylona (Athens), Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Het Museum Voor Schoene Kunsten (Ghent).

His work has been reviewed in publications, such as Artforum, ARTnews, Art in America, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Newsweek, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Village Voice. He has received numerous awards and grants, including from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation, and New York State Council on the Arts. He is also a member of the prestigious group American Abstract Artists.

Gianakos’s work is represented in dozens of public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Fogg Art Museum/Harvard University, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Hammer Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, MOMus Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian (Thessaloniki), Malmo Museum (Malmo), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), National Museum (Stockholm), MOMus Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection (Thessaloniki), Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Watkita Museum of Art (Tokyo), among many others.



from January 07, 2023 to March 25, 2023

Opening Reception on 2023-01-07 from 16:00 to 18:00


Cris Gianakos

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