"Umbrellas" detail - Thessaloniki & Psychiko Athens (print 19x13,6)
Umbrellas, Thessaloniki Seafront & Psychiko in Athens, digital print on plexiglass. Detail from the sculpture that was installed in Thessaloniki in 1997 and in Psychiko in Athens in 1998. A characteristic sculpture and a widely loved visual subject in the work of Zongolopoulos, but also in the public space of Greece.
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"My umbrellas overhear the universe," George Zongolopoulos himself had said about his trademark motif, the umbrella.
Zongolopoulos used the umbrellas for the first time as a motif in his work in 1986, probably following an idea of his wife, Eleni Zongolopoulou, whose works display umbrellas at least a decade earlier.
In 1993 he created a hydro-electric sculpture called "Umbrellas", which was exhibited with great success at the Venice Biennial and was finally was installed, following a competition, in the EU Council Building in Brussels. A similar project of smaller dimensions adorns the entrance of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art.
In 1995, the Venice Biennial hosted a different, static installation called "Umbrellas", a sculpture mounted on a floating platform at the entrance of the exhibition. Two years later, in 1997, this sculpture was set up at Thessaloniki's New Beach, on the occasion of the city's operation as a cultural capital. In 2017 "Umbrellas" completed 20 years of presence in the public space of Thessaloniki having gained a unique popularity among the city’s inhabitants, and the subsequent title "The umbrellas of Thessaloniki".
Since 1998, a variant of the project has been installed at Faros Psychiko in Athens. As a motif, the umbrellas are also used at the "Atrium" installation, located at the Syntagma Metro Station in Athens.