Updated: Aug 6
Niovi Kritikou, the esteemed Art Director and Head Curator of Mets Arts Center, graciously consented to be interviewed, and we were delighted to have the privilege of sitting down with her. Meeting Niovi was truly an honor as she candidly shared her remarkable life story and illustrious career development as a curator. Through her eloquent narration, Niovi takes us on an enthralling journey, offering invaluable insights into her experiences and accomplishments. Continue reading below to delve into the captivating account of her journey in the art world.
1)What inspired you to become a curator?
"I grew up and live in Athens, but my origins are from Tinos and the Peloponnese. Due to our family's summer vacations in those places, I had many stimuli from these regions. A characteristic example is Tinos, an island with a rich artistic heritage and beauty, both of tradition and the place itself. I believe that these images of natural beauty, folk culture, and heritage always attracted me towards visual arts.
From a young age, I was already painting quite well, and I always remember dreaming of becoming an artist when I grew up. And so it happened. During family trips abroad, I recall only museums and art galleries. Even before I knew the works of J. Pollock, Picasso, or Carl Andre, I had found myself in the Reina Sofia Museum, and those works have been imprinted indelibly in my mind, exactly with their coordinates inside the museum in Madrid. Initially, I started my studies in Art History and Theory at the Athens School of Fine Arts in 2011, thinking that it would provide a solid knowledge base for my artistic practice. Later, in 2016, I continued my studies in the Fine Arts department at the Athens School of Fine Arts, under supervision of Panos Charalambous.
Having accumulated ten years of experience and resources in the field of art, I gradually discovered the field of curation. I find curation to be very important both in presenting the artwork and in the viewer's experience. These two aspects are interconnected and equally creative. For me, curation is like painting in space, and I treat it as a form of painting."
2) What challenges have you faced so far in the field? And what advice would you give to someone who is starting their journey in the industry?
Starting to work in the art field in Athens, I faced numerous challenges. I engaged in various voluntary works, either in festivals or institutions, aiming to gain experience and connect deeply with the world of visual arts. One of the significant challenges was the need to work multiple jobs simultaneously to sustain myself financially while being involved in art-related activities. Pursuing a professional career in this field requires determination and a willingness to persist despite the challenges. Over the years, alongside other jobs to make a living, I participated in events such as Yennεes Artanc, Black and White Festival Art Unexpected, Documenta 14 and galleries in the center of Athens and abroad.
As I progressed, I started curating dining spaces with a professional approach, both for the respective artists and the presentation of their work. I began writing and publishing texts, which allowed me to showcase my abilities and led to collaborations with some art spaces. Notably, my collaboration with the ALMA gallery in Kolonaki was memorable. With the support of Ms. Maria Albani, I undertook curatorial responsibilities for significant artists of our time, such as Nikos Kaskouras in the exhibition "A Painting of Yesterday for Today" as co-curator with Mr. Manos Stefanidis, the exhibition "Almost in Parallel II" by Michalis Manousakis and Angelos Antonopoulos, and the exhibition "Made in Heaven" by Stamatis Theoharis
Armed with experiences and knowledge, I initiated my current collaboration with the Arts Center Mets. The esteemed artist, iconographer, and writer, Mr. George Kordis, along with his son Pavlos Kordis, showed great confidence in my curatorial work and managerial abilities for such a space. They provided me with the opportunity to oversee the entire artistic and cultural program of the Arts Center Mets. Within this collaboration, we hosted many artists, featuring notable exhibitions like "Synergy III" with Vasilis Geros, Aristomenis Katsoulas, and Giannis Tzermias, the monumental exhibition "Rescued Refugees" by George Kordis at the Athens Melina Merkouri Cultural Center and at the Basilica of Saint Mark in Heraklion, and the exhibition "Home Spectrograph" with Panagiota Antonopoulou, Maria Mangioli, Athena Miseyanne, Danae Tsolaki, and Dimitris & Pavlos Kordis. A remarkable moment of this year was our participation in the Discovery Art Fair Cologne 2023 with Vangelis Vangelatos, Fotis Varthis, Vasilis Yeros, George Kordis, Emmeleia Filipopoulou, and Danae Tsolaki.
Furthermore, we organized poetry, literature, and theater nights. Among them, I note the presence of the writer Isidoros Zourgos and the successful theatrical performance "Dala Gioma."
At the same time. I am preparing many new activities, exhibitions of both emerging and established artists, as well as collaborations with galleries abroad and participation in new art fairs, independent curations, festivals, and artistic events addressing socio-political issues. One recent endeavor was my project "Memento Mori. Tempi 2023," which took place at Teras Athens, under the auspices of the Borgias Fine Arts School.
What is your favorite part, you are called to do in your work?
For me, the favorite part of curating is divided into two aspects. The first involves getting to know the artist and their work. Then, attempting to see through their eyes and behind the aesthetic result, capturing the driving force that led them to the visual outcome. The second part revolves around creative curation, expressing myself through texts and arrangement, shaping the conceptual framework without sterilizing it. My concern is for the pieces to exude something esoteric and perhaps occasionally romantic or even poetic in their approach. Both the expression and the final presentation, in my opinion, should unfold like a scroll, ready to illuminate a story, a complete narrative.
How do you manage to stay updated with the latest news, trends, and developments in the art world?
Fortunately, nowadays it is easy to stay informed through social media, official websites, and the internet. I try to attend exhibitions, get to know artists, and visit significant events both in Greece and abroad whenever the opportunity arises. This process is time-consuming and requires study and research, both on a theoretical and practical level. As a result, I don't miss the chance to acquire art catalogs, explore archives, and engage in discussions about new movements, trends, and even attempt to grasp the essence of each new artistic expression that corresponds to the social context of our time.
After all, the art world moves quickly, and new media constantly evolve. History has shown that hardly any artistic movement is immediately embraced, as evidenced by the famous Salon des Refusés.
Are there any upcoming exhibitions that you would like to share with us?
Currently, I am working on an exchange project with De Ploegh Gallery in the Netherlands. This means that a Greek artist will travel to the Netherlands to create an artwork, which will be exhibited there, and in return, a Dutch artist will come to Greece for a similar endeavor. Our goal is to foster a dialogue through a joint exhibition to be presented at the Mets Arts Center.
Furthermore, in collaboration with Asterisque from Mets, we are organizing a mini Art Festival scheduled to take place from late September to early October. The festival will feature performances by jazz musicians, alongside screenings of short films and various art events, including installations and presentations of painting and sculpture exhibitions.
Photo 's copywrites belong to Niovi Kritikou.