my body is foreign
it’s in the land
flowers, soil, seeds, and clay
made of it
it’s in construction
in the destruction
my body is there
in the primal stuff
queer in soil
in the photos
potatoes I take
Working across sculpture, photography, and performance, Yorgos Petrou was born in rural Cyprus and has been working in London for the past decade. I take of places is his first solo show and it brings together a new body of works that are exemplary of the range of materials he explores and the ways in which meaning is articulated in his practice.
Images of fragmented bodies and landscapes recur across the works presented, either as recognizable figures or as evoked by texture and materiality. The sense of incompleteness conveyed by these objects is complemented by the idea of mirroring, in shapes and motifs that seem to find their double in works that are translated into different mediums.
Petrou has conceived the exhibition space as a kind of ‘open book’, creating a counter-intuitive display that invites viewers to experience the works along a continuous wall positioned across the left-hand side of the gallery. Having cracked open the moveable panels to create a linear surface, the artist incorporates the fracture and leftover plaster marks exposed by this gesture as part of the display.
The physical rift that splits the gallery walls reverberates symbolically across the works in the exhibition. These are pieces that draw on Petrou’s personal history, exploring his relationship to the land of his historically fragmented home country and the secretive nature of his queer identity while growing up in a rural setting. However, rather than creating a linear narrative the works are characterized by the artist’s experimental approach to materials and mediums through which meaning travels suggestively.
Yorgos Petrou (b.1981) is a London based Cypriot/British artist. He trained at Chelsea College of Art & Design, BA Fine Art, London, UK; and at the Royal College of Art, MA Photography, London, UK. He works with photography, sculpture, moving image and performance. His practice seeks to examine and analyse geological strata, political and historical events, and to “excavate” elements that he then manipulates, displaces, photographs, and re-photographs to compose imagery that both contributes and responds to the understanding of contemporary identity of a place. The juxtaposition of image and object aims to explore the appropriation of specific locations by personal, cultural, and political discourses. It deals with what connects individuals to those places and how they become sites of memory legend and trauma. In this conceptual context he looks at the human body mythologically, culturally, physically, and emotionally and how it relates to the land; how it can become a site of individuality, hybridisation, sacrifice, heroism, trauma, and dichotomy.
In 2019, his piece Unfamiliar was performed at the Barbican Centre, Arcola Theatre, and Battersea Arts Centre, London, UK. In 2017 his work Landmarks was exhibited in Planétes, the inaugural exhibition of Cultural Capital of Europe Pafos. In 2015 his video works My Brother, Copper, and Rough-cut were included in Identalterity at the 5th Biennale of Thessaloniki. In the year he graduated he showed work at Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011, ICA London and he was commissioned to create work for the Royal Society Summer Exhibition Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, supported by the Wellcome Trust.
Other group exhibitions include: (This) precious stone set in the silver sea, Copperfield London, UK (2020); Occupy and Echo (a stage), A Reading Room, Melbourne, AU (2019); Pivo Research, Pivo, Sao Paulo, BR (2018); Electric Blue, Galeria Vermelho, Sao Paulo, BR (2017);A Real Job is to Make Something, AIR, London, UK (2018); A Million Love Songs, Korai Project Space, Nicosia, CY; Motherless Beautiful, The British Museum, London, UK (2015); Motherless Beautiful, The Breeder Gallery (online), Athens, GR (2015); Parlour Simbolique: Freud and Eros, Freud Museum, London, UK (2015); Jonny, Insitu Space for Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE (2015); Shorts at Oxford, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK (2010), Album, Wolstenholme Creative Space, Independents Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK (2010); Z-time, Era Gallery, Moscow Young Artist Biennial, Moscow, RU (2010).