Kostas Sahpazis, Let’s Meet at 3am, 2012
Red and blue fluorescent tubes, canes, insulation
material, fittings, cabling and transformer
Photograph by Katy Hamer

For his first solo exhibition at Melas Papadopoulos Gallery in Athens, Greece artist Kostas Sahpazis (b. 1977) offers The Gift of Screws which opened on May 30th and is on view until July 30th, 2012. Working with various material constructs, the artist brings together such mediums as neon, leather, rubber and charred wood in what the gallery Press Release describes as reverie objectified: a metonymy for the free fall of materials and their rapid rescue. In a direct reference to a 1863 poem titled Essential Oils by Emily Dickinson, Sahpazis references the final line in the first stanza, “It is the gift of screws”. Where Dickinson is referring to (according to my online research) the essence of a rose after it has been pressed or “screwed” and the remaining oil that lasts beyond the death of the flower and even in some cases a person. What the artist references in his visual execution of the text is a claim of simplicity and a yearning for natural materials that can also be used to remind us of something else or a moment yet to occur. Here, molded iron alludes to curled or rolled leather, while neon is less about light and more about a dissection of space via a confluence of raw materials and perpendicular linear interjection of space.

Kostas Sahpazis, Second Connection (foreground), 2012
Yellow fluorescent tubes, steel, leather,
plexiglass, fittings, cabling, transformer
Leathers, (background), 2012
Iron, spray paint
Photograph by Katy Hamer
Emily Dickinson: Essential Oils (1863)
ESSENTIAL oils are wrung:
The attar from the rose
Is not expressed by suns alone, 
It is the gift of screws.
The general rose decays;
But this, in lady’s drawer,
Makes summer when the lady lies
In ceaseless rosemary. 
In a contemplation of time, along with remnants we leave behind, Kostas Sahpazis attempts to use contemporary pairings of materials that allow for a poetic interlude and even without the reference to the Dickinson poem, an intertwining of lyricism of life and death. Personal favorites are Let’s Meet at 3am and Second Connection, both 2012, each containing neon light and not only glowing with an eerie presence in the gallery but also functioning as a drawing (the neon offering a linear interaction) and sculptural object.  Sahpazis has been included in group exhibitions at the gallery before but as stated previously, this is his first solo exhibition. His work was a pleasant surprise in Athens especially under the circumstances of the political/economic state. Reminding me of the recent Hanna Liden exhibition at Maccarone Gallery in New York, Sahpazis also is able to create an active dialogue in a gallery context with objects that are subtle, mostly monochromatic, and made of simple materials. I look forward to seeing more of his work, whether in Athens or beyond.
Thank you to Andreas Melas for meeting me by appointment in Athens and spending time at the exhibition and gallery.
Kostas Sahpazis, The Practice of Go (foreground), 2012
Leather, jesmenite, plexiglass, iron, varnish, wood
Untitled (background), 2012
Resin, polyester, leather, iron
Photograph by Katy Hamer
More soon!