Born in Chania (Crete) in 1953, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student of Demosthenis Kokkinidis (1979-1984). He presented his work for the first time in 1979 and has since organized nineteen individual exhibitions, on top of several group expositions in Greece and abroad. In 1994, along with Marios Spiliopoulos, Antonis Michailides, Vicky Tsalamata and Edouard Sacaillan, they won the Alexandria Biennale award for best National Pavilion. He has been teaching painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts since 1987 where he became associate professor in 2009. He resides and works in Athens.

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2012 One Meter, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece
  • 2011 The place of time, Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, Archaelogical Museum of Chania, Greece
  • 2010 Apocalypse Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 2008 Ekfrasi - Fizz Galleries, Athens, Greece
  • 2008 Citronne Gallery, Poros, Greece
  • 2007 Perfect Tense, Falatados’ School in Tinos, Greece
  • 2006 Artforum Gallery, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2006 C.K. Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 2005 Nees Morphes Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2002 Artforum Gallery, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2001 Rossi and Rossi Gallery, London, UK
  • 2001 Zoumpboulakis Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2000 Opus Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 1998 Zoumpboulakis Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1996 Artforum Gallery, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 1995 Titanium Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1993 Europe Art, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1992 Titanium Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1989 Titanium Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1986 Ora Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1979 Diagonios Gallery, Thessaloniki, Greece

Group Exhibitions (selection)

  • 2012 Ellenico Plurale - Dipinti dalla Collezione Sotiris Felios, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy (curated by Giuliano Serafini)
  • 2012 Between Reality and Fantasy. Works from the Sotiris Felios Collection, Giorgio De Chirico Art Center, Volos, Greece (curated by Irene Orati)
  • 2009 35 visual artists for democracy, Zappeion Megaron, Athens, Greece (curated by Takis Mavrotas)
  • 2008 The dynamics of the image, B & M Theocharakis Foundation, Athens, Greece (curated by Dora Iliopoulou-Rogan)
  • 2008 Antiquity and Modernism, Kunsthistor Isches Museum, Vienna, Austria
  • 2008 The big sleep, Municipal Gallery of Kalamata, Greece (curated by Thanassis Moutsopoulos)
  • 2008 Art Athina, Gallery Artforum, Athens, Greece
  • 2007 Classical memories in modern Greek art, Capital Museum of China, Beijing, China
  • 2007 Art Athina, Gallery Artforum, Athens, Greece
  • 2005 Mickey Mouse meets Art, Hellenic American Union, Athens, Greece
  • 2005 Love Will Tear Us Apart, Babel Magazine, Gazi, Athens, Greece
  • 2004 Omeotita Peripou. Homage to Antonis Benakis, Benaki Museum, Pireus str., Athens, Greece (curated by Thanassis Moutsopoulos)
  • 2004 God Becomes a Man. Homage to Athen’s Olympic Games, Silver metal (public award), Μuseum of New Art,
    Εsthonia (curated by Mark Soousaar)
  • 2004 Αnthropographia. The Ch. Christofis Collection, Αcademy of Thracian Art and Tradition, Xanthi, Greece
  • 2003 Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art, Ataturc Cultural Center. Hellenic Presidency of the European Union, Instanbul, Turkey (curated by Marina Lambraki-Plaka)
  • 2003 Οlympic Spirit and Modern Greek Art, Municipality of Chania Gallery, Chania, Greece (curated by Peggy Kounenakis)
  • 2003 Sketching Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday, Μacedonian Museum of Modern Art, Thessaloniki, Greece (curated by Lina Tsikouta)
  • 2003 322+1 Artists Granteers Μakedonian Museum of Modern Art, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2003 Voyage Flowers East Gallery, London, UK
  • 2002 Sketching Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday, Averof Gallery, Metsovo, Greece (curated by Lina Tsikouta)
  • 2000 L. Beltsios Collection, Trikala, Greece (curated by Manos Stefanidis)
  • 2000 Collections of Contemporary Art Creations of Rethimno, Selections, Pieridis Gellery, Greece (curated by Takis Mavrotas)
  • 2000 Museum of Contemporary European Painting Vl. Frissiras, Athens, Greece (curated by Μ. Stefanidis, M. Karras)
  • 1999 Karaghiozis, the Theater of Shadows and Fine Arts, Municipal Gallery of Patras, Greece (curated by B. Papadopoulos)
  • 1999 Approaching the Greek Identity, Generations of ’80s & ’90s, Municipal Gallery of Athens, Dalarna-Falum Μuseum, Sweden, Grekiska Kulturhuset, Sweeden, Vianden Castle, Luxemburg (curated by Ν. Κyriazis)
  • 1999 Reference to Town Μuseum of Byzantine Art, Castle of Ioannina, Greece (curated by V. Rokos)
  • 1998 Contemporary Greek Art - Three Generations of Greek Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (curated by Marina Lambraki - Plaka)
  • 1996 Homage to P. Pantazis, Averof Gallery, Metsovo, Greece (curated by Olga Metzafos)
  • 1995 Precious metals Giannis Kontos, Nees Morphes Gallery, Athen, Greece
  • 1995 International Meeting at the European Center of Delphi, Greece (curated by Athina Schina)
  • 1995 ICHTHIS, Gallery of Metsovo, Greece (curated by John Kolokotronis)
  • 1995 Honoring El Greco, National Gallery of Athens, Greece (curated by Marina Lambraki – Plaka)
  • 1994 The loss of form within space, Nees Morphes Gallery, Athens, Greece (curated by Eleni Vakalo)
  • 1994 The Tree, Municipal Gallery of Nicosia, Cyprus, Pieridis Gallery, Athens, (curated by John Kolokotronis)
  • 1993 Ten Greek Painters, Palermo, Katagne, Italy (curated by Manos Stefanidis)
  • 1992 Vl. Fryssiras Collection, Byzantine Museum, Zakinthos, Greece (curated by Takis Mavrotas)
  • 1992 Homage to ORA Gallery, the last exhibition of the Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1987 National painting exhibition O.L.P., Piraeus, Greece
  • 1987 Painting for a table, Municipal Gallery, Athens, Greece (curated by Manos Stefanidis)
  • 1982 Students of Athens School of Fine Arts, Cracow, Poland

The riddles of vision

We accept reality easily,
possibly because we feel that nothing is real.
Jorge Luis Borges, The Immortal

Dangerous balances, Gordian knots, situations that could not exist, paradoxical geometries: A woman clings to (or pushes?) a leaning tree while a string keeps (?) it from falling. Two fishermen’ s lines meet at a clear angle. Optical illusions. Yes, but also a philosophical commentary on the fact that the entire world is one thing. So identical that representation in art (or elsewhere) seems ridiculous or unnecessary.

The artist, as a small God who does not observe the external world but creates a system of his own, autonomous from everything else except, possibly, the world of contemplation. More than conceptual formulator, Manoussakis remains an artist who is loyal to the material as well as the meaning of the prototype. In an age that mechanical reproduction should define our notion of art, according to Walter Benjamin, we face a rare exception in which meaning meets the prototype. There, the viewer is puzzled at the decay and revelation of the wood, the traces of carbon on the oil, the contrast of materials and colours. He pokes at the base of the painting as if at human flesh and by taking off its complexion, renders it naked. Clear colour, when it appears, intense, resembles an alien body in the spine of Manoussakis’s reality, usually structured in earthy, melancholic nuances. The artist’s long enduring persistence on mainly tin toys, a form of colorful microsculpture now appears to penetrate his painting. It seems that these precious pieces of another era infiltrate their color into their adjoining works in his studio.  It is as if they became live at night, as in Andersen’s fantasy and dyed them their style.

He avoids philology as much as impact, keeping the necessary distance from both, in an effort for art to be contemporary, a human creation in a turbulent age. It is intense humanism that characterizes the work of Michalis Manousakis from its beginning and until today, as well as an interest for humble, little things. Agony for man’s condition and art which immediately rejects any pretense of megalomania and impression. His “little man”, usually solitary in the past, here appears to coexist and converse with another, slightly smaller in size, “little man”. Is it because the adolescent is growing up and possibly a new life cycle begins?

Manoussakis constructs his own reality, which, despite its phenomenal similarities, bears little similarity with existing reality. Or, it possibly rewrites the latter in a virtual sphere. The sea of Manoussakis is not exactly sea, the sky is no sky and  shadow is no shadow. Here nothing constitutes a representation of reality. The boat we often meet is rather a symbolic arc, destined to carry a couple of people and no means of transportation. The occasional tree, despite its dangerous similarity to the pine, is more of a virtual comrade, a protective roof against the ominous sky. A great part of the works of this exhibition are made of diptychs, which usually constitute two parallel and paradoxically adjoining worlds which are, frequently, mutually cancelled both chromatically as well as conceptually. In one of them, the artist cancels a –genuinely- spontaneous function of vision: voyeurism. Here, we witness a woman in nude from beneath and from the most indiscreet position. In the adjoining part of the work a male figure gazes (at us) from above while shadowing his eyes with his palm, so as not to see. Here the denial of vision as well as of voyeurism function as a metaphor for the indiscreet character of all representation, image, art, as an extension of the Platonic allegory of the cave. Manoussakis seems to converse with a series of artists of the twentieth century. The Surrealists, possibly most of all Magritte, share with him his love of paradoxical situations and of the invention of riddles as well as the very commentary of representation as a lie (we can again recall Magritte’s classic words Ceci n’ est pas une pipe). Naturally, Marcel Duchamp’s importance as a founder of the conceptual approach to art is projected on the work of Manoussakis. Those who believe that art should incessantly approach society, daily life or even the world of fashion and mass culture might speak of anachronism at this point, (although they are to be confused by the references to post- war toys.  But those who believe that art should be a closed, protected system that should exist on a level alien to the trivial facts of daily life and in dialogue with Philosophy and Thinking will here discover the very material that myths are made of.

Thanassis Moutsopoulos

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