Athena Papadopoulos

May–August 2021

MOCA has commissioned Canadian artist Athena Papadopoulos to create a site-specific exhibition that will be produced in large part in Toronto during the lead up to the opening. This is Papadopoulos’ first exhibition in Canada and her large-scale sculptural installation will respond to the columned space and the local context it inhabits. Papadopoulos’ project will share Floor 3 with an intervention by the collaborative practice of Susan for Susan.

Papadopoulos creates richly dense sculptural works that play on stereotypical feminine signs and materials. The fabrication of her sculptures and mise en scenes is akin to the process of self-augmentation–of “dolling” and “dragging” oneself up. They are built up of layers of material excess and superimposed personal and found imagery. In addition to sources like clothing, cushions, plush toys, chains, wigs and textiles, Papadopoulos draws from a list of cosmetic and medicinal ingredients, applying items like self-tanner, lipstick and hair dye to further enhance and codify her work within feminine archetypes. What materializes are melodramatic characters that sit on the edge of the glamourous and the grotesque, high and low culture, not unlike the heroines of history. With each fold, tuck, wrap and twist, Papadopulos’ meticulously put-together, sleazy productions overturn fixed notions of quality, class and gender.

Papadopoulos (born in 1988 in Toronto, currently lives and works in the UK) has exhibited extensively in Europe with recent solo exhibitions at MOSTYN, Wales; Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon, Portugal; CURA Basement, Rome, Italy and Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK. Participation in group exhibitions has seen her work presented at spaces including the Drawing Room and David Roberts Art Foundation, London, UK; Castiglioni Fine Arts, Milan, Italy; Audain Art Centre, Vancouver, Canada and at Peres Projects, Berlin, Germany.

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Emalin London. Photo: Plastiques.