Selected works by Jannis Varelas

Jannis Varelas
Clair, Maid Costume, F/orange


Graphite pencil, ink, soy sauce, hood, photographs taken by the artist on paper

272 x 166 x 21 cm

Because we recognise Jannis Varelas’s large-scale collaged personages as such – because they occupy space in a similar way to us, and are constructed along figurative lines – it’s difficult not to draw parallels between their bodies and ours. Apparently facing us in a manner more confrontational than conversational, they’re nightmarish figures, cobbled together out of collaged images, scribbled pencil and scraps of clothing; one drips soy sauce from its groin, like unhealthy-looking urine. And yet the clarity of their compositions has a contradictory elegance that harks back to modernist design; their geometric heads and arms recall early twentieth- century theatrical costume.

Jannis Varelas
Jane, Maid Costume, C/pink


Graphite, pencil, ink, coal, part of jacket, pigment, photographs taken by the artist

272 x 166 x 11 cm

Varelas’s works stage collisions between the optimism of modernist avant-garde aesthetics with the discarded and degraded clutter of contemporary Europe in the fallout of the 2008 economic crash.
Their scale and structure makes them mirrors. In Clair, Maid Costume, F/orange, Varelas constructs a vaguely feminine character out of scraps that allude to the absence of sensual fulfillment: the head is an image of an orange, perpetually glowing and inedible; the hips and stomach an upturned hood in camouflage print, leading into the cone-shaped pubis with its sputtering soy leakage. In Varelas’s work, the human is something perpetually at the very edge of disintegration; in Jane, Maid Costume, C/pink, the collaged elements project off the surface of the paper, as if barely attached, and an image of a black candle seems to chart the figure’s demise. Despite everything, these figures seem to say, we are here.

Text by Ben Street

Jannis Varelas's Biography

Jannis Varelas
Born in 1977, Athens, Greece
Lives and works in Athens and Vienna


Sleep My Little Sheep Sleep, Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati, Ohio, Curated by Xenia Kalpaktsoglou
Brown Box and The Broken Theater, Krinzinger Galerie, Vienna

The Oblong Box, Kunsthalle Athena, Athens
The Oblong Series, The Breeder, Athens

Brandybell Series , Autocenter, Berlin

Blue Soldier-Opera Costumes, The Breeder, Athens

Mont Ventoux, Technopolis Gkazi, curated by Nadia Argyropoulou, Athens

Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna

Spaceship Columbia, Frieze Art Fair, London (with The Breeder)
Caliban Case Kirkhoff Gallery, Copenhagen

Juvenile, Gazon Rouge, Athens

Karikomoontes, Gallery 7, Athens


Hell As Pavillion, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, curated by Nadia Argyropoulou
Paper, Saatchi Gallery, London

Portraits of a Generation, The Hole, New York
Who’s Been There, Bukowskis, Stockholm
Parnassos, Parnassos Literary Society, Athens, curated by Stefan Bidner
Making Waves: International Art from the Saatchi Gallery, Hyatt Regency Hotel, London
The Garden of Eden, curated by Tjorg Douglas Beer, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
The Breeder Series, The Breeder, Athens

Deste Prize 2011, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens
Contemporary Greek Woman, The Hub, Athens, curated by Marina Fokidi
Derti Humanism, curated by Nadia Argyropoulou, Faggionato Fine Arts, London
Control, Magazin 4, Bregenzer Kunstverein, Bregenz. Curated by Carsten Fock

Greek Art, SEM-Art Gallery, Monaco
Cairo Biennial, Cairo, curated by Ehab Ellaban
The Marathon Marathon, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Nadia Argyropoulou, Acropolis Museum, Athens
Skin Fruit: Selections from The Dakis Joannou Collection, Curated by Jeff Koons, New Museum, New York
Lebt und arbeitet in Wien III: Stars in a Plastic Bag, Kunsthalle Wien, curated by Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, Raphaela Platow, Olga Sviblova, Angela Stief
Supernature: An excersice in loads, AMP, Athens, curated by Rallou Panagiotou and Andreas Melas

Forschungsbericht, curated by Severin Duenser vs. Christian Kobald, COCO, Vienna
Snipper, Galerie Biederman, Munich, curated by Thomas Kratz, Margaret Biederman and Daniela Stoeppel
Bright Morning Star, Kenneth Anger series, Galeria Ze de Bois, Lisbon
Hydra Art Walk, curated by Dimitris Antonitsis, Hyrdra
Sniper, galerie Biedermann, Munich curated by Thomas Kratz, Margaret Biedermann and Daniela Stoeppel

Prospect.1 New Orleans, first international art biennial in the city of New Orleans, curated by Dan Cameron
The Skat Players, Vilma Gold gallery, London. Curated by Sarah McCrory
JEKYLL ISLAND , Honor Fraser gallery, L.A. - curated by Max Henry
Whatever’s Whatever, Hydra school projects, curated by Dimitrios Antonitsis.
Quo Vadis, Autocenter, Berlin

Wild West, Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Berlin, curated by Daniel Von Wichelhaus

True Romance, The Breeder, Athens

Destroy Athens, First Athens Biennial, Athens – curated by Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, Poka Yio, Augustine Zenakos
I Sigxroni Elliniki skini, hellexpo garage, curated by Nadjia Argyropoulou
Black and White, Ibid Projects, London
RRRIPP!! Paper Fashion, New Benaki Museum, Athens, curated by Vassilis Zidianakis/ Atopos, Athens

Royal College of Art M.A. Degree show, London
What Remains is Future, city of Patras, Cultural Capital of Europe, curated by Nadja Argyropoulou
Panic Room, Drawings from The Dakis Joannou Collection, DESTE Foundation, Athens , curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Kathy Grayson

Emblematic Display, curated by Catherine Wood, ICA, London
Absolute Summer, Kirkhoff Gallery, Copenhagen
The Hidden Charms of Drawing, A.A.Art, Athens
Art Basel Miami Beach 

LISTE 05, Basel 

The Armory Show, NY

Resemblance Some How, Benaki Museum, Athens

Anthropography, Frisiras Museum, Athens