- Helen Olley
The beautiful Cycladic island of Mykonos is better known for its liberal party scene and ancient history than its contemporary art; but that reputation is largely unjustified, as these eight exciting contemporary galleries attest. It’s precisely that combination of the traditional and the avant-garde that makes this one of Greece’s most refreshing locations. To help you appreciate the continued relevance of Mykonos as a site of cultural interest, here are eight of the island’s best contemporary galleries.
Rarity Gallery, in the center of Mykonos, was the first art gallery on the island to showcase the work of internationally recognized artists and is, therefore, something of a historical site as well as a cultural one. It has been open for nearly two decades, bringing the best of contemporary art to the island drawn from a cosmopolitan collection of artists. It alternates between established talent and the promotion of relatively fledgling names, and is not constricted to a single genre or style; rather, it exhibits everything from painting to photography. The curators here aim to run up to five solo exhibitions a year so that there is always something worth a visit at Rarity, the largest and longest-running of all Mykonos’ art galleries.
Rarity Gallery, Kalogera 20 – 22, Mykonos, Greece, +30 2289 025761
Established since the late 1990s, Minima Gallery showcases a range of contemporary artworks by both upcoming Greek and foreign artists. This includes the work of a small list of sculptors as well as its more comprehensive painting displays. The style of its exhibits range from the highly colorful abstract to stunning examples of landscape photography, meaning that Minima will appeal to a wide range of tastes and interests. There are a number of big names presented here in an exhibition space that is, as the name suggests, minimally decorated so as not to detract from the work.
Lifeline Art Studio
Lifeline Art Studio is unusual in that it is not only an exhibition space; it continues as a working studio. It is dedicated to the work of one artist, Donna Skaropoulou, who established Lifeline as her studio in 2005. Although born in the United Kingdom, Donna has lived and worked in Greece for more than two decades. Her artwork is richly inspired by her surroundings, with smooth, oceanic lines and a palette of summer colors. Her oeuvre is also stylistically varied and the experience of Lifeline is undoubtedly enhanced by the opportunity to watch the artist at work.
Lifeline Art Studio, 7 Skardana Street, Mykonos, Greece, +30 22890 23147
The idea of modern mosaic art might be an unfamiliar one, but this gallery perfectly blends the best of old Mykonos with new artistic influences and styles. In other words, it brings the heritage and history of Mykonos to bear upon the contemporary art scene. Mosaic is only a small gallery but it exhibits replicas of older mosaics as well as more modern designs. It is an innovative and unusual art form for those looking for something a little different to traditional canvas-based creations. Mosaic art studio is tucked away in Mykonos Town not far from the harbor front.
Mosaic, Agios Vlassis, Chora, Mykonos, Cyclades, Greece, +30 22890 27822
Mykonos Art Gallery
More remarkable than the painting here is the marble work, which is not only sculptural but has also been shaped with an eye to commercial sales. Here there are marble fireplaces, marble tables, even marble pebbles for those looking for more upmarket gravelling. Some of the sculptural marble, however, is truly magnificent in its modern lines, creating human form in a way that is an unexpected divergence from the neo-classical. Mykonos Art Gallery draws artists from all over Greece to exhibit their work, so a visit here offers the best possible chance to glimpse contemporary Greek art on a grander scale.
Fine Arts Kapopoulos
This art gallery and auction house not only promotes contemporary art but works hard to market it. Founders Marina and Evangelos Kapopoulos were determined to discover and publicise new names in contemporary art, as well as support a number of local artists. The auction house has served to increase the profile of Greek art, hosting a number of events throughout the year. The styles and skills of the artists on display here are hugely varied and cater to all aesthetic tastes. Even those who aren’t able to visit the island can now experience its taste for contemporary art as Kapopoulos accepts auction bids in absentia.
Municipal Art Gallery
No survey of contemporary art on the island would be complete without a few words on the Municipal Art Gallery which is located in the heart of Mykonos Town. Formerly the house of Mykonian painter Maria Iglessi, today it houses a variety of works from contemporary Greek artists and international names. From June through October the Municipal Art Gallery hosts a number of artistic events often organized in conjunction with the Mykonos School of Fine Art. Finally, the Gallery also operates as a site for seminars, lectures and workshops so that it forms a fully functioning cultural centre as well as an art gallery.
Zervoudaki, Igglesi Building, Matoyanni, Mykonos, Greece, +30 22890 27190
Art Studio Gallery
The Art Studio Gallery in Goumeniou Square in Mykonos exhibits the work of a number of Greek painters and sculptors as well as foreign artists. It was founded by Greek painter Magdalini Sakellaridi almost two decades ago, and her own work continues to be presented here as well as in galleries and private collections all over the world. She runs her gallery in conjunction with a number of contacts abroad so that she regularly has the most recent contemporary work ready for exhibition. The exhibition space itself is a pleasure to wander through, with sculptures on every side so that the art engages its audience, rather than simply positioning them before a piece mounted on the wall.