In Athens, Carwan Gallery opens with inaugural exhibition by Omer Arbel

In Athens, Carwan Gallery opens with inaugural exhibition by Omer Arbel

Carwan Gallery’s outpost in the Greek capital’s old port is a new home for the contemporary design gallery’s international roster of creatives

Carwan Gallery opens its doors in Athens, with a new gallery debuting in the city’s old port and an inaugural exhibition of works by Omer Arbel. The contemporary design gallery originally opened in Beirut in 2010, and the Greek move marks a new, important chapter in its history.

Launched by Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte and Quentin Moyse, since its inception Carwan Gallery has been championing the work of international designers from Carlo Massoud to Karen Chekerdjian, Rotor and Lindsey Adelman. Now the gallery adds the Vancouver and Berlin-based Arbel to its impressive roster, with a new exhibition opening at the Athens location, featuring copper sculptures that result from an in-depth research process.

113 by Omer Arbel

The multidisciplinary designer (and the mind behind lighting brand Bocci) has created 70 unique pieces for the launch exhibition, the result of his personal research work into the relationship between glass and copper. ‘For some years I have been interested in matching the coefficients of expansion of glass and copper, so that the two could be fused on a molecular level and manipulated,’ explains Arbel. ‘I’ve wanted to explore formal languages that might emerge when two materials, so different from each other, marry.’

Omer Arbel for Carwan Gallery Athens

Arbel’s process

The works are created by employing traditional glass-blowing techniques to create a vessel, then pouring a copper alloy in. The different chemicals clash during this process, and as the pieces cool the glass shape shatters off, leaving a metallic silhouette featuring an oxidised finish.

‘When hot, the glass and copper interact to make a form that neither would be capable of on its own, in a kind of performance staged by the glass blowers, with great skill, in a short amount of time. The object immediately begins to cool, and the two materials, because of their intrinsic nature, are completed to reject each other, break off and separate. I am interested in the form that remains, an artefact resulting from (or documenting) a performative act of unpredictable contingencies and circumstances,’ Arbel continues. 

‘I’ve wanted to explore formal languages that might emerge when two materials, so different from each other, marry’

Carwan Gallery in Athens

An exhibition of experimental pieces seems like a fitting debut for Carwan’s new location. ‘Athens is going through a total Renaissance,’ said Bellavance-Lecompte in an Instagram post announcing the new opening. He and Moyse have chosen to be based in the Piraeus (the city’s historic port), in a former 19th century commercial warehouse with high ceilings and original features such as a timber roof truss and multilayered brick walls.

‘In a way [this location is] the starting point from where Ancient Greek civilisation spread all over the Mediterranean,’ Bellavance-Lecompte continues. ‘Athens is a new inspiration, simple and pure in its aesthetics but also dense and complex in its history and urban context.’ §

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