The iconic Hilton Athens may have closed its doors to the public, but all eyes are still on it. While the property undergoes renovations that will see the introduction of Hilton’s luxury Conrad and Waldorf Astoria Brands to Greece, the hoarding wall around the site is being transformed into a fabulous art installation under the creative direction of Phedon Papamichael, weaving together the landmark’s legacy and the city’s vibrant art scene through a visual narrative of the hotel’s history.
Vintage photographs from the ’60s and ’70s, architectural portraits, works by young artists, and contemporary street art come together in the new outdoor art exhibition that has taken over the hoarding wall around the former Hilton Athens property, turning the sire into one of the city’s newest art destinations.
Titled “Space Between,” the exhibition is overseen by two-time Academy Award and two-time BAFTA nominated cinematographer and director Phedon Papamichael, who was born in Athens and spent his early childhood in the area around the Hilton Athens. Visiting the city years later, he was inspired by the building’s striking architecture and set out to capture it in a series of photographs. “I was born at around the same time as this monumental building, and in a way, I feel that our journeys, over the decades, have unfolded in parallel,” Papamichael said. “Perhaps that’s why, when I was shooting the building, I was able to intuitively and effortlessly capture its understated beauty and architectural details.” The photographs are featured in the exhibit, displayed along Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.
Curated by Odysseas Lappas and Katerina Sarantis, the exhibition further features four renowned Athenian graffiti artists who capture the city’s pulse and urban environment in an art form that has emerged as part of the cultural identity of Athens, as well as work by 14 Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA) students, who participated with diverse artworks that fittingly capture the city’s many and diverse faces. Selected from among 85 applicants by a committee comprising Phedon Papamichael alongside ASFA professors, the 14 students presented their work under the curatorship of Poka-Yio, Associate Professor at ASFA and founding director of the Athens Biennale.
The displays also include black and white photographs from the ’60s and ’70s depicting the early stages of construction of the historic building as well as the people who helped establish it as a point of reference for Greek architecture but also for the social life of the city: its architects, the visual artist Yiannis Moralis, who created its distinctive reliefs, and various notable public figures and celebrities from Greece and abroad, for whom the Hilton Athens had been a favorite meeting place through the decades.
Connecting the legacy of the modern monument with the authentic spirit of contemporary Athens, Space Between is an invitation to find inspiration in the modern urban environment of the Greek capital and aims to spark creative expression and conversations among the city’s inhabitants about the importance of art in public spaces and about the past, present and future of the city itself.
Highlighting the authenticity, timelessness enduring relevance of Athens, Space Between pays homage to the hotel’s past while simultaneously looking ahead to its next chapter as a new luxury hospitality destination that will introduce a Conrad Hotels & Resorts hotel alongside Waldorf Astoria and Conrad branded residences. Set to open in early 2025, the property will also feature a private lifestyle members’ club, multiple culinary and entertainment venues, curated shopping, as well as leisure and wellness experiences, representing a total investment of more than €275 million, including the initial investment for the property acquisition.
Participating ASFA students
Filippos Napoleon Aggelakis, Evangelia Andronikidou, Athanasios Athanasiadis, Nikoleta Athanasopoulou, Vasiliki Baltzi, Sofia Christodoulou, Triantafyllia Douroupi, Elisavet Golfinopoulou, Christos Kastrinakis, Anna Mastromihali, Giorgos Papadomanolakis, Dimitra Theodora Papadopoulou, Natalia Sopidi, Nikolaos Tzoufas
Participating graffiti artists
Apset, SimpleG, Soteur, Yiakou