CHRISTOS PAPOULIAS, The Great Scaffold

Art magazine ARTI, vol. 15, 1993 (Athens, May, 30, 1993)

The field seems to be extensive and difficult to apprehend, Aristotle Physics IV

In is latest pieces Zongolopoulos symbolically reveals the secret of this quest for unity by integrating the elements of his work. He uses stainless steel as a medium, in a minimum of sections that offer him the possibility to work with light. His pieces are hushed inferences to a nostalgia for architecture. From Malevich' s black square to contemporary chamber environments, the clash of the two arts is in essence an erotic act.

Zongolopoulos reminds us that this is a misunderstood relationship with moments of clandestine embrace. Without the need - unlike many of his young contemporaries - for construction materials or household effects to indicate it, he feels it an ontological necessity to concern himself with the quest of a form. He searches in classical concepts, without using either the words or the objects. He maintains a plastic relationship with architecture, perhaps because he knows very well what incongruity would be installed in the crevasse to open up if one "field" opposed the other.

One rediscovers the longing for architecture in the profound depths of his works. The use of the magnifying glass did not come about simply to free the form' s successive faces, but also to engrave the trace of another scale within the space. Many criticize him for this perseverance in quest of form. I believe, however, that through this quest he manages, from the opposite path, to say it all in an equally contemporary way. By serving the plastic like a surgeon, he applies the elixir of youth to the earth's skin. Perhaps this is the secret of his longevity and of that indomitable youthful spirit surrounding him.

Through his work he has saved - as in an ark - the ethos of the artist and the continuity of tradition, preserving the essence of what is worth preserving in his personal therapeutic treatment for the underlying nihilism of his era. He disciplines concepts into rules, like a kind of cosmic grid. The uplifting forms approach the Sublime, with no traces of grandiloquence. 

Zongolopoulos wraps naked abstraction in transparent clothing, using modest gestures; he does not betray it. He needs these trappings as equipment upon which to deposit the symbols, the movement, the elements. Perhaps this could be the Greek tranquility and the enigmatic smile of the Kouros - at once Divine and murderous - beyond ethical categories. New meanings stream through the form' s evolving states. Zongolopoulos is well aware that he will not reach Ithaca on this voyage.

Comments are absent; associations and symbols are hidden diligently under the language. Subtlety, grace and nobility encompass the form, which only outwardly appears as protagonist. Yet I believe that herein lies the meaning of his work: for the unity he has achieved contains it all. The language of the work is the work itself. The terms that separate the contemporary from the classical are retracted; and in the great Scaffold in Venice, the same optical-kinetic universe of the evolving form now becomes the content.

The work' s language is rapturous, and in moments of rapture one does not speak. The composition is not only a composition of elements that have concerned him during recent years, it is also a composition of the Arts. The way the great Scaffold stands before of the Greek Pavilion nullifies the facade' s existence, as it creates a second facade / face. The large construction has a slow movement as water falls from its pipes on to the umbrellas - slow, like the Earth' s movement as it glides through the Universe. Quietude and concentration: as the umbrellas, aided by the javelins of light emitted through fine steel sections, and by the transparency, resolve the issue of the Baroque static angels.

The assumption of the form has come about. The great Scaffold is a hymn to light; gravity is refuted within the total transparency of this large construction. Thus the light combined with the lightness helps the viewer as it supports the illusion of the assumption on the Scaffold. More than any other form, the umbrellas, like the bicycle, as objects of man' s constructivist talents, contain his absent body. The elimination of the body is preserved in the form of the umbrella.

The construction could extend to infinity - like Brancusi' s column - if it had no reason to become the Pavilion' s mask. The javelins pierce the construction in order to integrate a secret hydraulic rhythm into a musical orchestration. The great Scaffold is an offering to our overcast and rainy days. Like the dawn filled with the dew of adolescent awakening, it rouses in us that oldest desire for the new.