Juxtapoz Magazine - Vassilis H. Must Love Dogs

Juxtapoz Magazine – Vassilis H. Must Love Dogs

The Hole is delighted to announce the first New York show of paintings by Greek artist Vassilis H. (b. 1977, Athens), entitled Must Love Dogs. Drawing inspiration from magazines, fanzines, films and photographs from the seventies and eighties, Vassilis paints men and women in configurations suggesting themes of lust and aggression, often isolating them against plain backgrounds with chromatic auras.

Vassilis’s subjects, from a very popular vaquero to a quartet of slow-dancers, all seem aware of an external gaze, bracing for it. Off-kilter like a thrift store discovery, gnarly like a found photo in a stranger’s family album, these fifteen paintings depict women, couples, dogs, dancing—and lots of ice cream. Scoundrel men, unattractive ladies or the actual puppy dogs offered might be referenced by the title, which here feels like a mandate: “Must Love Dogs.”

The inherent symbolism of his selections speaks to Vassilis’s broader project: uncovering all the pathos and nuance in human relationships. Part of that mystery is how we imagine ourselves in relation to others, and who we become when we pose. We drape a proprietary arm over a friend or lover, square off for the viewer, let our dog give us doggie kisses. Vassilis captures the way we are when we are consumed by our subject-hood.

Stylistically, the paintings rethink the formal language of contemporary realism, referencing the sure-handed style of social realists like Thomas Hart Benton and the genre-bending irreverence of George Condo. There is deliberate brutality in the way subjects’ faces are rendered, their lazy red eyes and smushed-putty features seem to confront us with our voyeurism as if it is a joke we share: if you’ve ever accidentally opened the front camera on your phone, you already get it.

Vassilis H. is an artist who lives and works in Athens, Greece. He is represented by Allouche Benias Gallery and recently exhibited in their gorgeous historic building in Athens near Syntagma Square. He has shown at Dio Horia’s Mykonos location as well as group shows at The Breeder. He studied in the UK at Sheffield College of Art and Design and then the Athens School of Fine Art.

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