In the 1930s Le Corbusier famously exclaimed: “Unless you have seen the houses of Mykonos, you can't pretend to be an architect. Whatever architecture has to say, it is said here.” He was aboard a yacht watching the trademark sugar cube buildings as they were approaching the harbour. Almost an aeon later the timeless whitewashed beauty remains, but the visitor is greeted from afar by yet another spectacle: A striking triangle-shaped sculpture glistening against the brilliant Cycladic light on the wall of the Mykonos Riviera: The island’s latest and shiniest gem of a hotel in the new Mykonos marina.
Just before the pandemic hit, the Daktilidis family commissioned world-renowned sculptress Venia Dimitrakopoulou to create a tailor-designed piece for their hotel. Halted as it was thanks to the hygiene crisis, the artwork received its final shape and was inaugurated only recently.
On the intersection of public and private art, either from afar or close up, “Elxis” - attraction - is now exerting its magnetic pull to boat passengers and Mykonos Riviera guests, alike: “I was asked to place the sculpture on a long outdoor corridor which ends on a high wall. This is viewed from multiple positions -as you walk across it, from the top, from the hotel’s various levels. It is also visible from a distance, as I realized when I was coming with the ferry. I am especially interested in context-dependent works that stem from particular locations. They are in a way, site-specific -in incessant dialogue with the landscape and the environment”, Ms Dimitrakopoulou asserts.
To soak up her surroundings, she stayed at the hotel for quite some time observing how the setting changes over the course of the day and according to the light.
Mykonos’ characteristic colours - the brilliant blue, the cerulean hues, the gold and copper tones at sunset- inspired the artist who decided to incorporate this palate into her creation. Another source of inspiration was the element of water and its reflections. Also the port with its ceaseless traffic and the sailing boats in front of the Mykonos Riviera. The sounds too: The potent wind, the splashing of the waves, the comings and goings of the ships and the clanging of the yachts’ wires and masts. Venia Dimitrakopoulou also took into account the nautically themed logo of the hotel. “I realized that my sculpture had to bear upon all that”, she stresses.
She chose to work with inox -a durable material frequently used in boats, that’s able to withstand harsh weather conditions, but also provide the desired mirror-like effect that would seamlessly incorporate it into the synthesis; and etalbond -a high tech material that is especially conducive to innovative architectural design. “My aim was to produce something valuable -a jewel of sorts that complements this hotel’s great beauty”, she proclaims. “The Mykonos Riviera is uniquely attractive for a number of reasons: Its vantage location; its starlight pool and the play of light in the reception; the multi-level design and the different views this affords; the hotel’s impeccable aesthetic, its gorgeous lighting and super professional, yet cordial staff”, she concludes. With this in mind, she named her work “Elxis”, which means attraction in Greek.
In direct reference to the hotel’s logo, in its final form, the three-piece sculpture consists of a series of sail-like triangles that run across the corridor, with three of them ending, as if magnetized, on a high wall that is visible from afar.
Reflecting the tangerine sunsets and the transformation of light throughout the day, as well as the marine’s traffic and the horizon of the sea, the artwork becomes in effect the hotel’s trademark beckoning all Mykonos visitors from the yonder.
The work was completed, both conceptually and physically, pre-quarantine. But within that space, renovations in the hotel’s premises required its reconfiguration. “If anything, the pandemic taught us the necessity of flexibility and adaptability. I was at first worried that my initial concept of the artwork would no longer work but I found a solution by creating a free-standing sculpture on the hotel’s new verandah, that now completes a trilogy”, the artist declares.
With ample consideration for the site and the environs she was asked to intervene upon, Venia Dimitrakopoulou created a dazzling piece of art, that is now adorning the Mykonos Riviera. “I believe it is very important that a hotel -a junction between a public and a private space, that is- honours art. Art might not be able to change our lives, but it certainly can embellish them. It can soften the edges, ease off our soul’s pain. This is something we all understood during the pandemic: Art is an integral part of our lives”, she emphasizes.