ATHENS — Eirini Vourloumis’s show In the Same Space — a moving dialogue with her grandfather, painter Andreas Vourloumis, and a flickering portrait of the Greek capital — is installed in a light-filled corner of the National Museum of Contemporary Art that looks out onto Athens. Through the windows, leaves flash like shoals of fish in the late summer breeze; inside, amid the gallery’s clean, white walls and wooden display boards, Eirini’s cell phone photographs and Andreas’s paintings and sketches present the light, color, texture, and motion of Athenian daily life.

These twinned bodies of work — one from the 20th century, the other current — convey at once transience and continuity. The crystalline Athenian light is a constant, even as it is segmented by the urban geometry of streets, doorways, windows, awnings. Both artists have a way with color: the honey of Athens’s bush-hammered concrete; the dusty mauve of its sunsets. Andreas’s “Canary” (all of the artist’s works are undated), perched in the chartreuse glow of a summer afternoon, complements Eirini’s perfectly coiffed matron, veiled by a golden sheaf of scorched fig leaves. 

Installation view of In the Same Space at the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens. Left: Andreas Vourloumis, “Studies of three landscapes” (n.d.); right: Eirini Vourloumis, “Untitled” (2014-2022)

More subtle, winking connections surface as well. Andreas’s “Studies on how the eye sees: Eyes closed” looks like nothing so much as two lilac eggs tucked into mossy nests. Eirini’s accompaniment is a canted-angle image of tarmac strewn with the shadows of branches. It’s a photograph that reads like a modern mistake — an image captured unconsciously, mid-stride. Andreas’s work is marked by the influence of Impressionism, and Eirini’s photographs at times echo that style, as fog or rain smears her subjects into painterly abstractions. As Andreas scrawled in a poem displayed among the images, “The inner [is] bound to the outer / We become one, the world and its beholder.”

The portrait of Athens that emerges here is evocative, intimate, exact in its local detail. But the exhibition’s real charge comes from its intergenerational exchange, both a conversation and a tribute. In Andreas’s “Study, self portrait,” the painter’s bespectacled face emerges from a shaded pocket, his mouth partly open, as if speaking; in Eirini’s work, she appears only as a shadow, her tangled curls set against a square of brilliant white light. The images dance together across time.

Installation view of In the Same Space at the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens. Left: Andreas Vourloumis, “Studies on how the eye sees, Eyes closed” (n.d.); right: Eirini Vourloumis, “Untitled” (2022)
Installation view of In the Same Space at the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
Andreas Vourloumis, “Houses at night” (n.d.)

In the Same Space continues at the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens (Kallirrois Avenue & Amvr. Frantzi Str, Athens, Greece) through October 30. The exhibition was curated by Stamatis Schizakis.

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