As part of the Back to Basics series of exhibitions on some fundamental themes and elements of the artistic practice, the exhibition 'Back to Basics: Text' aims to explore the objectives behind the artists’ visual use of text and the methods of approaching it.
The written word has been part of visual art since the beginning of art history. Excerpts from texts have been used in artworks in Ancient Greece, Byzantium and the Renaissance, but always in a secondary, auxiliary, supplementary role as aids to resolving potentially unclear points. In these pieces the written word is never a visual work in itself.
Already since the 1st century AD Horace had equated the importance of poetry and painting with the famous phrase “Ut Pictura Poesis”, which has been repeated by many artists over the centuries.
The visual use of texts was established mainly in the early 20th century by artists from many avant-garde movements of modernism, as typified by René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images where the statement “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” is used as the medium for a surrealistic subversion. In the case of Dada artists the written word serves an anti-artistic, anti-aesthetic logic, until it finally acquires a primary role in the late ’60s with conceptual art, where an accompanying image is no longer deemed necessary.
Naturally, the exhibition Back to Basics: Text is not able - and does not aspire - to present all aspects of the use of the written word in the history of visual art. The quest is to establish a dialogue among the works of the participants and pose questions about the purpose of introducing text into the production of artworks and its role in them.
Curated By: Artemis Potamianou