Alexi Antoniadis’s works are at once sculptures, drawings, and paintings. His show at Brookline Arts Center is the first in a series, “BODYMONOPOLIZINGPOLITICKING,” curated by Camilø Álvarez, owner and director of samsøn, an art consultancy. The title is a catch-all — this artist’s work was more political from 2006 to 2013, when he partnered with Nico Stone to make surreal, large-scale installations that re-created anonymous and forgotten elements of modern urban architecture.
Today, he makes sculptures that are steel line drawings in blushing colors. Many are abstracted faces. They work frontally like a painting, but they’re shallowly three-dimensional, with lines that echo one another and cast shadows.
Antoniadis’s faces recall El Greco’s haunted, elongated figures or the African masks that captivated modernists a century ago. He employs a color field painter’s luminous palette — most obvious in the steel-plate piece, “Future Farmhand.”
But colors warm the linear works, too. “Blue Tulpa” sets spiky rods in green and purple against a curvaceous powder-blue cut-steel backing that opens at the top with two great holes. These are eyes, which Antoniadis echoes with rings of purple and accentuates with green furry brows. Steel lines describing cheekbones, nose, and downturned mouth appear as if quickly sketched by hand. They buzz with caffeinated despair.
The rosy “Pink Mantis” is straightforwardly cubist, with a triangular nose folding on one side and a notch for a mouth opening on the other. Straight lines cut over the piece in steep diagonals. But it’s the curves that convey the astonished mood: wide-open circular eyes bracketed by arcs.
The show can be viewed through the arts center’s showcase windows, where Antoniadis’s faces stand on pedestals and windowsills. His purely abstract works on the wall offer emotional breathing space, and his graceful use of steel conjures the mobiles of Alexander Calder. “Vanishing Act” reads like a game board, with chutes and backstops in purples and greens.
Antoniadis riffs on modernism as he did with Stone, but this smaller-scale work feels sweeter, less burdened with conceptual content. Even the anguished faces have a radiant delicacy. Parse them all you want, but these works are best simply imbibed.
BODYMONOPOLIZINGPOLITICKING: Alexi Antoniadis
At Brookline Arts Center, 86 Monmouth St., Brookline, through Feb. 8. 617-566-5715, www.brooklineartscenter.com
Cate McQuaid can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.