Εθνικό Μουσείο Σύγχρονης Τέχνης
Sails

Bia Davou

Sails

1981 - 1982

The work is displayed as part of the permanent exhibition

Installation

Installation with embroidered fabric
Variable dimensions
Donated by Zafos Xagoraris, 2002
Inv. No. 260/02

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Bia Davou shapes her works based on a central artistic principle: she creates her works according to a system of logical organisation which she terms “serial structures”. In this vein, she organizes the structure of her works following a set of predefined principles which draw upon theories of communication and basic mathematics. In effect, her artistic practice is the outcome of a strenuous and meticulous process based on a combination of craftsmanship and industrialised production, which includes an array of different mediums and techniques: from printed copper and bakelite circuits through drawings of numerical sequences to weaving and installations constructed with sails. The shift in Davou’s artistic production —from a rigid mathematical system to a freely creative poetic act— begins in the late 1970s through her encounter with Homer’s Odyssey. The triangular formations of arithmetic sequences lead her to the form of the sails, and from there, to the renegotiation of the myths of Odysseus’ nostos and Penelope’s waiting, as well as of the practice of weaving. The sails unfold freely in space, creating environments within which Davou embosses parts of the Homeric poem, organising them by numerical sequences such as the Fibonacci sequence. This specific practice of Davou’s is considered to culminate in the work Serial de-restructures, a visual calendar of 367 drawings which she made —one per day— in the course of the year 1992. The abundant corpus of drawings becomes a medium for the spatial representation of time. Through an obsessive production process, Davou forms a visual alphabet that condenses the morphological and conceptual queries that inform her work — seriality, travel, linguistic explorations, myth, time. In Davou’s diary-like practice, the pencil and the eraser become equivalent tools in a continuous act of writing and erasing, followed by the effort to recreate the work. In the drawings made during the last months before her death, Davou draws and then erases the words nostos and thanatos, which represent the two fundamental notions of the Odyssey. As the work’s title suggests, Davou deconstructs and reconstructs the textual and visual elements of her artistic idiom in a gesture that asserts the dialectical relationship between creation and destruction offering a metaphor for existence proper.
Tina Pandi, text from the permanent exhibition guide ENTER EMST : Collection & History, A short guide, 2020

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