selective exhibitions & ancient works...
..this is not intended as an exhaustive listing of exhibitions I have participated in.
The first exhibition in which I was a participant was a joint surrealist exhibition at Roen Art Gallery (a small local suburban gallery) with school friend artist Heather Robinson in 1981. My paintings were only exhibited once more in the eighties, in 1985. My works were rejected by all the commercial Melbourne galleries I approached in that decade.I then exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria from 1992 to 1996. Since 1995 I have exhibited with Roar Studios, an artist run gallery. My first solo was at Roar in June 1999. My works were also included in the Roar stand of the 1996 Australian Contemporary Art Fair 5 (the Australian Contemporary Art Fair is now known as the Melbourne Art Fair). In the nineties, I did one better than the previous decade: I was rejected not only by all the commercial galleries I approached in Melbourne, but also by all of the commercial galleries approached in Sydney. In Australia if it's not decor, Australiana, or the faux avant garde, it will not sell!
..... when art is defined by the (art) market it is no longer art that is sold, but a commodity intended to pay for the wages, rent, overheads of the venture (gallery) in question. When the 'artist' deliberately sets out to create work that caters to market appeal, for the sole purpose it being sold, instead of expressing an idea, they are reduced to the status of artisans, not artists. Regardless of whatever talent these artisans may possess they instead create objects d'art, not art. The creation of such pseudo-art usually entails a considerable degree of self-censorship. It is 'art' that has only come about by researching what buyers want. High art has nothing to do with with what buyers want, for the prospective buyer is merely looking for a work of craft that serves merely as an adjunct to their other decor. Art created with the tastes of the prospective buyer reduces the artist to an artisan whose work contributes nothing to the sum total of human endeavour..
11 - 30 March 1994
(featuring paintings from 1989 -1993).The city square was demolished shortly afterwards..... not, I am assured, because my paintings were exhibited there!
17 February - 16 March 2000
Exhibition of paintings at the CASspace, Collins St Melbourne: 17 February 2000 - 16 March 2000
Four works exhibited in group show featuring emerging artists at Melbourne gallery Mansour + Hill in LaTrobe Street in Melbourne's CBD. The show ran from 31 July - 11 August 2001. Fortunately no works were sold ... Prospective buyers could have made substantial savings as the Gallery had listed three of the four paintings' prices without including the gallery commission and/or GST! I would have received around half my asking price .... meaning half of the (approx) $2.80 per hour my paintings sell for....
Amalgam - duo exhibition of the works of Lee-Anne Raymond and Demetrios Vakras at Melbourne Gallery 4Cats, 9 April to 27 April 2002.
In October of 2002 four of my paintings will be travelling to Chicago, USA. In an exhibition organsied by Veronika Kotlajich of Echo Galley (Chicago) for Halloween, my works will be featured alongside those of other artists, including Daniel Ouellette.
I suppose it should not be unexpected that my first exhibition outside Australia would be in Chicago.
After all, the exhibition "Dada and Surrealism in Chicago Collections" held in Chicago in 1984-85, exhibited works from the private and public collections of that city. It was a profound demonstration of just how many superb surrealist works were collected in just this one city.
The book In the Mind's Eye Dada and Surrealism Published by Abberville Press ISBN 0-89659-596-X, accompanied that exhibition. The introduction Chicago: "The City of Surrealism" By Mary Jane Jacob reads:
"Chicago's interest in Dada, and especially Surrealism, is not a new one... Chicago's involvement with Dada and
.....the paintings below are examples of my earlier works. The paintings of 1978 and 1979 were executed at the age of 15 and 16 respectively. Between divine work ii of 1978 (below) and divine work iii (<-click into link)of 1987, as a case in point, much technical improvement had occurred!
divine work ii. 1978
in memory of living decay. 1979
break with tradition 1979
|As coincidence would have it I wrote, and posted this post-script, at the same time I was approached by US Gallery Echo of Chicago...However that does not negate criticisms I have levelled against galleries like Forum and publications like Juxtapoz and Morpheus....
In January 1999 I finally came on-line after overcoming my Luddite tendencies and purchasing my first computer. Since then more galleries have been approached, both domestically and in the US, via e-mail; regular mail; as well as in person but without success. Any assumption that the US somehow has a pluralistic art market is misplaced. From magazines like the moronic JUXTAPOZ; to the publisher Morpheus; to Arnie Fenner's fantasy kitsch publication, SPECTRUM; to Galleries like Forum, the only criterion considered in gauging what art is to be reviewed or exhibited is its popular/market/$$ appeal.
FORUM is constrained by a conservatism that entails Odd Nerdrum's exquisitely painted but pointless decor is exhibited. Its "evocative feel" is good enough to convince any self-respecting decorator that with Nerdrum we have decor with intellectual/artistic gravitas. However, simple juxtapositions with foreboding skies and still-life-lit multiples of the same figure are not a corollary to a "deeper meaning"; nor does a Rembrandt-like execution add to its profundity.
JUXTAPOZ only showcases art its readership can emulate. If the work is too technically accomplished it might alienate its readership*. We aren't all artists. But if you're a JUXTAPOZ reader then the purpose of that magazine is to help you cultivate your personal delusion that you are. It acts as an affirmation to all those aspiring to grandeur but who lack ability.
SPECTRUM confuses fantasy kitsch as fantastic art and thus diminishes the credibility of genuine artists... When it comes to a comparison between Fuchs or Giger with Frank Frazetta kitsch, there is no comparison. For Spectrum however they are all practitioners of the Fantastic!
Indeed it is publications like Spectrum which really increase the difficulty for genuine artists to be taken seriously. Once galleries come to associate Fantastic Art as being the kind of art(sic) Spectrum promotes as being "fantastic art" they lump genuine fantastic art with the comic book illustration that Spectrum promotes.
When one is confronted with the misdefinition propounded and popularised by Spectrum it is easy to appreciate why James Cowan, head of Morpheus, refers to "fantastique" art instead of fantastic art.... Publications like Spectrum have commandeered the definition of a genre and diminished the artistic credibility of genuine practitioners.
Outrés' statement as it appears on their website:
"Outré Gallery specializes in all sorts of unusual and weird art (originals and prints) - Retro/Pop, Underground/Alternative, Fantastique, Comic, Hot Rod, Dark/Macabre and beyond."
This Gallery in Melbourne's Elizabeth Street, in the city centre (which also goes by the name of "Toon-In"), is run by Martin Macintosh whom I approached about selling/exhibiting my art in 1999. He was interested in some of the digital prints, but explained that the paintings were out of the question. You see, the breasts, (a part of female anatomy) might be disturbing to some of his clients (maybe those bottle-fed as infants?). With prints of Giger's work it is okay - he's famous, but with my work it was a no-go. It's okay to have male chests, they don't have those terrifying breasts.... It doesn't seem to matter that my works have appeared in very public places (refer photos above), without complaint. If you ask me, it is no more than heterophobia....
POST USA EXHIBITION
It is quite easy to be mislead by advertising that a gallery is worth visiting or approaching to exhibit works in. I made such a mistake after seeing advertisements for FUSE GALLERY of New York City which appeared in JUXTAPOZ. I emailed McGrane of Fuse to ask if they might be interested in exhibiting my work and after his encouraging response I sent him some material. I have never received a response since. And, despite many emails sent requesting that he return my material, this has not been forthcoming (I had included postage coupons for my material to be returned when I mailed it to Fuse). On my visit to New York City I saw why. Below are photographs of Fuse 'Gallery':
It isn't even a gallery proper, but a nightclub/pub with a small exhibition space. It is graffitied on the outside, and after going down a dark narrow corridor you reach a bar. The exhibition space is closed off. Although staff are inside they will ignore you. My conclusion: it is a dive! ... on the 18/6/2003 Fuse came across this page on my website (around seven months after my visit to NYC when the above photos were taken). Bizarrely enough, although photographs do not lie, and even though I did not go to Fuse alone (which means I can corroborate the statement made on this page), and although I have all the copies of my requests for the return of my material, Fuse sent me the following email:
hello I request that you remove those misleading pictures of my gallery from your web page as well as any references
Is this a New York thing? ...Despite what New York/New Yorkers think, the town is very conservative. The art scene is one that is a mixture of showcasing very safe pop-art culture of the kind Juxtapoz showcase (a consequence of not knowing enough about art) ... or the exhibiting of work by bona fide artists whose reputations have already been established in other countries... (a consequence of the pretentiousness of the art collecting elite, ie Forum).
Another of the New York City disappointments is CFM Gallery. ... In Australia there is a dearth of art books of much interest. However, in the USA, and in New York City in particular, we (my partner & I) spent AUD$1000- on art books which we never knew existed. One of the purchases was at a gallery, CFM. If you go to CFM and see any book on Leonor Fini, DON'T BUY IT there, you'll be ripped off. After buying a book on Leonor Fini at CFM for USD$85- , we saw the identical book sold elsewhere for USD$55- !!
RETURN OF ART TO AUSTRALIA
copyright Demetrios Vakras