The “Old” Santorini

There’s the “fancy” Santorini, which faces the picture-perfect sunset. But there’s also the raw part of the island, which has its unique and very intriguing charm. It is here, inland, that you will find traces of the “old” Santorini. In the subdued villages of Megalochori, Pyrgos and Emporio, at religious festivals in blue-domed chapels surrounded by vineyards, among the ruins of ancient Thera on the summit of Mesa Vouno, a giddying rock-face flanked by the black beaches of Kamari and Perissa. I found Emporio the most interesting. The village is built in the lowlands, at the foot of Profitis Ilias Mountain. The village was probably named Emporio (“trade”), because it used to be the center of the commercial affairs in the past. Nowadays, Emporio is a peaceful settlement with beautiful houses and yards, many of which have been renovated, making the place very attractive. You can find plenty of shops, cafes, bars and traditional taverns with savory dishes and fine wines. There are some luxury hotels and villas or charming traditional houses and rooms for your stay. An asset of Emporio village is the fact that it is close to the volcanic beaches of Perissa and Perivolos. The medieval Kasteli, one of the five fortified castles of Santorini, is located in the heart of Emporio, and while you walk on streets, you realise the whole village is built around it. Inside the castle there is a church that dates back to the 16th century or earlier. Meanwhile Pyrgos, strategically built in the heart of the pre-volcanic hinterland, affords panoramic views, yet located that bit further from the famous caldera, it has been spared from the terraces, balconies, infinity pools and master suites that adorn the much glossier Oia. Pyrgos is not swamped by sunset spotters, nor is it the first choice among the hordes of cruise-ship passengers. For a great lunch and stunning view at the entire island, visit Franco’s Cafe!

One of the most underrated Santorini spots is the lighthouse. In the lovely, tranquil village of Akrotiri you can find the lighthouse located on the extreme southwest part of the island, 18 kilometers away from Fira. It is considered one of the best and most beautiful lighthouses in Cyclades. Attuned to the rest of the island, it is an admirable building with whitewashed walls standing on the edge of a high cliff right above the sea. It is, by all means, an idyllic setting. The lighthouse is situated in a peaceful place, surrounded by sea, ideal for blissful, romantic moments. It is highly recommended that you visit it during sunset when the warm light of the sinking sun floods in the lighthouse. It is an excellent sunset-watching spot and the fact that it is not commonly-held makes it more special. It is the spot the locals prefer to spend their evenings and cherish this magical hour. All these, along with the scenic view it offers, will fill you with nothing but entrancement…

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Santorini – Oia, Thira & Firostefani

Ammoúdi Bay dinner setting.

Santorini, if done right, is the ultimate setting for a carefree holiday. First thing’s first – and this may be controversial – avoid staying in the most well-known town of Oia. It’s by far the most touristy spot on the island, regularly flooded with cruise ship day-trippers – even in the post-pandemic world. It also has a large swath of cliffside, couple-filled boutique hotels. Rather than settling in the area, just meander over there for an afternoon or a dinner. In general, Thira, Firostefani and Oia, which are located on the western side of Santorini, are three towns which you can climb through within two hours. There’s no way you can’t spot the sunset from these three, so it’s really worth reserving a table at one of the local restaurants (I will share a few great addresses in the upcoming posts!). Thira, Santorini’s biggest city, has some lovely designer outlets and there are a fair number of cool bars and nightclubs here, too. If you’re looking forward to a calm ambience, stay longer in Firostefani (which neighbours with another adorable village, Imerovigli – that’s where we’ve stayed!). Oia, Santorini’s star, is the ultimate Greek Island village – all white houses and domed churches tumbling over the lip of the caldera. It’s also the most postcard-ish of all. From Oia, it’s worth going down to the Ammoúdi bay, where you will eat the freshest fish with the finest view.

From top left to bottom right: mules and donkeys are regular sight on the roads of Santorini; the postcard view at Oia; sun-bathing octopus down the Ammoúdi bay; one of the vintage boutiques in Oia.

Wherever you sit down for a coffee or refreshing cocktail in Oia, there’s a view. A spectacular view!

One of many domed churches in Firostefani. Sadly, most of them were closed…

If you’re looking forward to some local shopping, forget Oia, and go down to Thira. We bought some gorgeous ceramic plates and tsarouchi slippers made from wool. Very Loewe!

Somewhere between Thira and Firostefani… the villages are so close to each other that it’s difficult to distinguish between them. The blazing sunset and the view at the deep blue sea unites them all!

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Santorini Summer

I’m beyond happy to (finally) post my favourite moments from the Santorini trip I took back in June! I’ve never been to Greece before, but this gorgeous and mysterious island of the Cyclades made me realise what’s so unique about the so-called “Greek holidays”. The whitewashed villages huddled on the cliff around the volcanic crater aren’t just a postcard view, but stunning reality here. The history of this island is rich, yet violent: the abrupt eruption buried Akrotiri around 3,600 years ago, the centre of a great Bronze Age civilisation, whose streets, squares and frescoed homes were astonishingly well-preserved beneath a cloak of ash. Archaeologists have unearthed poignant details of lives interrupted: pots of barley, a basket of sea urchins, a golden ibex in a clay chest, perhaps an attempt to appease the wayward gods. Of course, like anywhere with an active volcano on the horizon, that could happen at any time. Perhaps this underlying vulnerability is what gives Santorini its raw intensity, its quietly devastating beauty. And of course, Santorini, with its blazing sunsets, is known to be one of the most romantic places in the world. So, for a great starter, here are some of my sun-drenched shots, just to convey the ambience of this gorgeous, close-to-nature, and even spiritual place.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Katharina Grosse at Hamburger Bahnhof (and More!)

Oh, how I’ve missed museums! I wanted to see Katharina Grosse‘s “It Wasn’t Us” exhibition so badly! First, I love her immersive work. Second, coming back to Hamburger Bahnhof, one of Berlin’s best museums of modern and contemporary art, was a good idea, as I’ve been there once as a child and I forgot how great this place is. Now, back to Grosse. A painting by her can appear anywhere. Her large-scale works are multi-dimensional pictorial worlds in which splendid color sweeps across walls, ceilings, objects, and even entire buildings and landscapes. For “It Wasn’t Us” the artist has transformed the Historic Hall of Hamburger Bahnhof as well as the outdoor space behind the building, into an expansive painting which radically destabilises the existing order of the museum architecture. Katharina Grosse’s latest in-situ painting disregards the boundaries of the museum space in a grand and colourful gesture: “I painted my way out of the building,” said Grosse in relation to her work. Over the course of several weeks a vast new painting has emerged that stretches across the Historic Hall and into public space, over the extensive grounds behind the museum, landing finally on the façade of the so-called Rieckhallen which were inaugurated as a part of the museum complex in 2004. Grosse’s kaleidoscopic painting brings together colours and forms, natural and man-made surroundings and its visitors as participants in an all-encompassing, pulsating interaction of hues. The boundaries between objects, and between horizontal and vertical orientations begin to melt away, and the work’s scale continuously shifts depending on the visitor’s position. As the viewer moves through the painting new spaces emerge that are both artificial and ripe with associations, and at the same time completely real, forcing us to renegotiate our habitual ways of seeing, of thinking about, and of perceiving the world around us. The choice of the location and the many different factors and conditions it entails have influenced the development of the painting, just as the permanently shifting lines of sight of the viewer and unexpected interactions with the work affect our ways of perceiving it in the exhibition setting. In this sense, the work’s title, It Wasn’t Us, can be understood as a reference to the inherent complexity and unpredictability of a given situation, whether it be the conditions under which artists create their work, or the conditions under which it is later viewed. The painting exists only for the duration of the exhibition – which is open util the 10th of January 2021.

At the moment there’s also another exhibition going on at Hamburger Bahnhof, titled “Magical Soup“. Spaciously presented across more than 2,000 square metres in the museum’s Rieckhallen complex, the group exhibition features key works complemented by loans representing the latest generation of artists, with a common point of departure being the nexus of sound, image and social space. “Magical Soup” brings together works by the media art pioneers Nam June Paik, Jochen Gerz, Charlemagne Palestine, Ulrike Rosenbach and Keiichi Tanaami; by the multimedia artists Nevin Aladağ, Stan Douglas, Cyprien Gaillard, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Dmitry Gutov, Anne Imhof, Joan La Barbara, Pipilotti Rist (her installations are so powerful!), Diana Thater, Lawrence Weiner, Nicole Wermers and David Zink Yi; and by the younger artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Trisha Baga, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Christine Sun Kim, Sandra Mujinga and Sung Tieu. Here are some of my favourites, combined with the Hamburger Bahnhof’s permanent gallery, feauturing some good old Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys:

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2020 Picks

I love Berlin. And I love it even more during Gallery Weekend! During this event, the city transforms into an art sponge, and really, anything can happen (another post is coming on this today…). Every year, traditionally in springtime (due to coronavirus it was postponed to September 11-13), around 50 galleries open their exhibitions by young and established artists and welcome numerous visitors. Gallery Weekend Berlin was founded back in 2005 as a private initiative by Berlin galleries and soon became one of the highlights of the international art calendar. The weekend celebrates galleries and artists within this unique format providing high-calibre exhibitions and an unparalleled experience of Berlin. Here are my three picks from yesterday, but stay in tune, as more posts are coming!

Ugo Rondinone‘s Nuns + Monks at Esther Schipper

Stones have been a presence and recurring material and symbol in Ugo Rondinone’s art. They are the subjects of the stone figures that he began with the monumental Human Nature installation at the Rockefeller Plaza in 2013 followed by Seven Magic Mountains in the Nevada Desert in 2016. Both groups are the study and enjoyment of naturally formed stones as objects of beauty and contemplation, and in turn generate personal, meditative states of looking in which the boundaries between the outside world and internally visualized spaces break down. In doing so, Rondinone makes sculptures of what it means and feels like to see, whether this is understood to be a physical or metaphysical phenomenon. Nuns + Monks continue to address the dual reflection between the inner self and the natural world. Just as the external world one sees is inseparable from the internal structures of oneself, Nuns + Monks allows such layers of signification to come in and out of focus, prompting the viewer to revel in the pure sensory experience of color, form and mass while simultaneously engender in an altogether contemporary version of the sublime.

The exhibition remains on view through October 17, 2020. More here.

Richard Hawkins at Galerie Buchholz

Richard Hawkins moved out of Texas for art school in Los Angeles in 1986. Then, after a few years of writing experimental fiction, he began a career in art that would contain all of American culture in its erotic death grip. As a painter, Hawkins often swims in different directions – mining art history, as he has over the past two decades, to create surrealist, tragicomic scenes of gay cruising zones and exotic hustler bars. He also mines literature for inspiration, character cameos, and excerpts of text inserted directly onto his canvases. Hawkins new group of paintings for his 11th solo exhibition at Galerie Buchholz are brightly colored compositions that contain a constellation of subjects as varied as the celebrity hunk Nick Jonas, the boxer Canelo Alvarez, Justin Bieber, Adam Driver, but also “Death in Venice’s” Gustav von Aschenbach as played by Dirk Bogarde or Alain Delon as Baron de Charlus from “Swann in love”. Two of these paintings include snippets of poetry from the decadent Victorian writer Algernon Charles Swinburne. These new works originate out of the mindset of collage, the medium that is central to Richard Hawkins entire artists practice, but which is here emphatically transformed into painting. Hawkins’ subjects seem to dissolve in glowing, even fluorescent colors, and alongside his ensemble of reoccurring characters painterly references appear: butterflies by Odilon Redon, a dried sunflower and secreting opium.

The exhibition remains on view through October 2, 2020. More here.

Tobias Spichtig‘s Pretty Fine at Contemporary Fine Arts

In his first solo exhibition with CFA, Tobias Spichtig, Swiss artist, combines his new paintings and sculptures. Shell becomes essence, attitude becomes form, the existentialist gesture is being adjusted in the digital age. His work is generated through a vast circulation of reference, media, fashion, humor and materials. Engaging with visual culture through both traditional and experimental means, Spichtig’s conceptual narratives often use color as a means of connecting themes. His installations, sculptures, paintings, photographs and films address ever-changing notions of reality and the temporal nature of images. Also, he has recently collaborated with Demna Gvasalia on installations places at selected Balenciaga stores.

The exhibition remains on view through September 26, 2020. More here.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki, photos of Tobias Spichtig’s works via the artist’s Instagram.