The J. F. Costopoulos Foundation, as part of its programme for the extensive presentation of internationally recognised artists from Greece or of Greek origin, organised the first major retrospective of Greek-American artist Stephen Antonakos. Curated by Katerina Koskina and organised in collaboration with the Benaki Museum, the exhibition was on show at the Museum’s Pireos Street Annexe in Athens from December 18, 2007 to March 9. 2008.

This first retrospective for the artist comprised some 250 works that spanned over fifty years, thus enabling viewers to follow the evolution of the oeuvre of this important artist. As one of the top Light Artists (who create using artificial light), Stephen Antonakos started working with neon in the early 1960s. Using an idiom akin to that of geometric abstraction, with clear minimalist and sometimes conceptual references, he still retained a special idiom which reflected his philosophical and aesthetic views. In addition to the artist’s “trademark” neon works, the show included earlier works as well as drawings and models for his Chapels and Meditation Rooms.

Prominent among the exhibits were three new works made specifically for the retrospective: “Arrow”, “The Leap” and, in the Museum’s courtyard, “Chapel for Saint Dionysios”. Abolishing the boundaries between sculpture and painting and often incorporating them into the architecture, Stephen Antonakos secured his own unique place in contemporary art. Moreover, his works, especially since the 1980s, helped showcase the spiritual aspect of art and encourages viewers to embark on an inner dialogue.
The exhibition was accompanied by a Greek and English catalogue with original texts by the curator, Katerina Koskina, Daniel Marzona, Brian O’Doherty, Martin Filler and Eleftherios Ikonomou, as well as a selection of excerpts from interviews of the artist
The exhibition space was designed specifically for the show by the architectural firm of Μ. Kokkinou and Α. Kourkoula, and implemented and supervised by Ms Yanna Stavroulaki.

A brief résumé of Stephen Antonakos:
Stephen (Stylianos) Antonakos was born in 1926 in Agios Nikolaos, Laconia in Greece. In 1930 his family moved to New York, where the artist lived and worked until his death in 2013. Stephen Antonakos exhibited extensively and executed works for indoor and outdoor public spaces in the US, Europe and Japan.