The old fashioned way

Art created by hand is always refreshing.

By Omaira Gill (life)

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Published: Sun 29 Mar 2015, 8:41 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:19 PM

I run a Facebook group for journalists in Athens. As part of this, I organise little networking get-togethers from time to time. A few weeks ago, trawling online for something suitable for the group to do in Athens still quite cold and rainy weather, I found a free launch night at an art gallery.

So I arranged the event and put it on the group’s page. Come the night in question, I was exhausted, but seeing as I’m the one who arranges these things, I had little choice but to go. So I forced myself to get ready and head out.

The night was cold — this year it seems to be taking forever for Athens to warm up — and I really would much rather have been wrapped up at home with a mug of hot cocoa.

Or so I thought. When I got to the gallery, with its gentle lighting and lots of sensitive artistic types hanging around, at first I felt a little out of place. That quickly faded when I started looking at the art.

The exhibition was by artist Thodoris Lalos. It was called Ad Somnum and drew on sleep as its central theme. The canvases were highly textured and incredibly detailed. Sleep, lack of sleep and the strange dreams that visit us when we are suspended between worlds danced across the wall. The artist said that since he had become a father, he had come to appreciate sleep more.

The paintings were intensely detailed. Various techniques appeared on each canvas, as well as very detailed painting books and charcoal phrases written on the walls. Each image had a dream like quality. I looked at them, enjoying their strange, disjointed atmosphere, the sleeping faces of children, adults and soldiers catching a nap in between shifts.

I leaned forward, getting as close to the canvases as possible. In our digital age, we so often forget how real art is created. I’m talking about canvases and paint, art and studios and countless hours spent creating something with your imagination and your hands.

We have become so used to seeing images created with pixels and computers, that coming across genuine art feels refreshing for the soul. I had to resist the urge to reach out and touch it.

Afterwards I felt like I’d just had a deep gulp of cool, clean air. In the chaos and noise of our day-to-day lives, culture takes a back seat. Being up close to art like that, real, tangible art, was a rare treat. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been to an art gallery. As I watched one father walk around the exhibition with his son, I began to think of how so few of us make the effort to expose our children to art.

The excuse we often have is money. In the midst of a crisis, who can afford to go to an art gallery? Well, this particular exhibition was free, and I enjoyed it so much I almost felt like I should be paying something to someone.

Free art events like this can be found in Athens, and I’m sure in other cities too. As for the issue of time, well, I confess that I don’t have a magical time machine that will suddenly make it more possible for you to fit in 20 minutes here and there across the year to take in a little art. But if you can squeeze in a little time, you’ll find the rewards are well worth it.

Omaira Gill is a freelance journalist based in Athens.

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