A Conception of Virtue

by Christos Koutsouras

Harrison Center

Through Oct. 21

Research Triangles

Harrison Center

Through Oct. 31

‘Agora’ by Christos Koutsouras For many, the lure of abstract art is a spiritual-psychological one. Recognizable images abstracted into their essence get to the heart of things: deconstructing the symbols into their original parts allows that some universality may be gleaned, as well as some conception of our individuality as each of us reacts differently to what we see. When paint becomes a tool for distilling an artist’s conception of something, even an intellectual idea, it’s as if we’ve been invited to dive into deep water. All of this brings us to the art of Christos Koutsouras: an artist whose strength of voice comes from an emotional place more than an intellectual one, and yet, his subject matter is often concrete and inspired by intellectual ideas. Koutsouras somehow draws the two together in a manner that is highly complex and yet accessible in an immediate, visceral way. Koutsouras’ current series of works, A Conception of Virtue, an iMOCA exhibit on view at the Harrison Center’s chapel gallery, draws perhaps more directly on the artist’s Greek identity than any of the work Koutsouras has shown here over the years. Koutsouras lived in Greece until he was 20 but still connects to his home and family there, and this exhibit pays homage to his heritage and offers something of substance to the viewer as well. The scale of these pieces is almost overwhelming and yet somehow they maintain an easy intimacy. Long swaths of paper span the walls of the chapel space; one painting depicts the Greek chorus, rendered with a broom, according to the artist. Attendant drips punctuate the figurative forms, but they follow a line so as to appear deliberate — “connect the dots,” you could say, of the highest aesthetic order. Koutsouras also pays homage to Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” — which, the artist asserts, is Picasso’s nod to the classical Greek notion of masks; theatrical abstraction, as Koutsouras points out. Abstraction indeed cuts across artistic disciplines. Koutsouras’ ability to abstract emotion lends a deeper quality to the notion. On the subject of crossing disciplines, the Harrison Gallery offers an exploration of art and science in the exhibition Research Triangles. Eleven artists respond to the findings of medical researchers, giving visual voice to what is so difficult to convey to the average layperson (I include myself in this classification). One could say scientific research and non-representational visual art have something in common at the outset: One is difficult to communicate and the other can be difficult to interpret. Does a project such as Research Triangles enlighten such murky perceptive places? The short answer is yes; but it assumes that the value will be in cross-fertilization — drawing the scientific community into art and vice versa. Scientific research, though, is inherently creative, so perhaps the distance between the two disciplines is not that vast after all. Doris Hails’ paintings, for example, responding to the research of Ora Pescovitz at Riley Children’s Hospital, are delightfully enigmatic as one would expect, and yet the representational imagery allows us to make the connection between medical research and the hope for a cure. Perhaps that’s what connects the impetus of medical research and the reach of the artist’s brush: Both speak to ever enduring hope. Hope for a cure; hope for meaning. Research Triangles group show is on view at the Harrison Gallery in the Harrison Center for the Arts through Oct. 31. Christos Koutsouras’ A Conception of Virtue, an exhibition of iMOCA (www.IndyMOCA.org), is on view in the Harrison Center’s chapel gallery through Oct. 21. The Harrison Center is located at 1505 N. Delaware St. Call 514-6787 or visit www.harrisoncenter.org for information. Gallery hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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