Mark Hadjipateras at Denise Bibro
Art in America, Oct, 2005 by Jonathan Goodman
Mark Hadjipateras is an American-born Greek artist who is currently living in Greece. For this solo, he exhibited untitled watercolors and monotypes with his typically whimsical mixture of abstraction and figuration. The work is done in a humorous, funky style, close to cartooning. The small, colorful watercolors encompass a variety of forms, some of them biomorphic, others complex and nonobjective. The monotypes, small as well, are in black and white. While not recognizably influenced by such masters of the raw gesture as Philip Guston and Peter Saul, Hadjipateras shares with them an irreverence that feels like a determined attempt, visually speaking, to remain honest.
Sometimes it is easy to forget how pleasurable sheer exuberance in art can be. In a 12-by-9-inch watercolor from 2004, Hadjipateras gives his audience a zany landscape inhabited by creatures with multiple legs and arms. There is a yellow path of sorts, decorated with red dots, upon which stands a blue umbrella-shaped being with more than a few feet. In the upper right is a kind of blue bacillus from which cilia protrude; beneath are three brightred sperm forms. In the upper left are two more elongated sperm shapes in blue; underneath them is a green block in a peanut shape like a cutout. The experience of the piece is a lot more fun and lively than words can convey. Hadjipateras clearly enjoys his mission as interpreter of unknown worlds.
In another small watercolor, also from 2004, there is a series of figures that look like women in green dresses, but that can also be read as teapots with double spouts. An array of forms on the right includes curved handles and shapes that look like containers. As in the other paintings, the surface is extremely flat. The exchange in them between abstraction and figuration throws us slightly off balance. A monotype from 2003, a bit larger in size, looks like a gray vessel with wings. Set against a black ground, the image feels mysterious and somewhat melancholy. Whether serious or comic, Hadjipateras's inchoate forms and effects keep us guessing as to their meaning.
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