Friday 8 January 2016

Dimosthenis Kokkinidis


Dimosthenis Kokkinidis - Forgotten Canvases, at the Benaki Museum, Pireos.

'From 1962 until 1984 I had my studio in Kalithea. As there wasn't enough space I unframed a few of my paintings and I rolled them up. Those canvases moved to my studio in Paiania and remained forgotten for 30 years'.

The exhibition at the Benaki consists of the 70 canvases that the artist had forgotten about.

A painter committed to art's social value, Kokkinidis produces powerful works that combine figuration with sophisticated abstraction. Interested in humanity's relationship with the social, natural and metaphysical spheres, Kokkinidis has established a different approach in handling the human figure and the world: in contrast to the solid surfaces of the surrounding 'cosmos', the human figure is almost always modelled with a more fragile brushstroke.

The student years:

These early works reflect the influence of his teachers at the Athens School of Fine Arts and are of the 'Greekness in art' school of painting that was prevalent at the time in Greece.

Portrait of a Young Woman, 1955-67

Self-portrait, 1962-63

Seated Young Woman, 1955-57

Woman Washing, 1957-58

Seated Woman, 1957-58

Seated Woman, 1955

Two Women, 1957-58

Seated Woman, 1957-58

Neighbourhoods - The Refugees Series (1963-64):

A series of paintings depicting the hastily built accommodation to house the displaced Greeks who came as refugees from Asia Minor. Kokkinidis' family lived in one of those houses until the beginning of the German Occupation during WWII. These paintings are based on his memories, when as a child, he would see the women who, having completed the household chores, would stand or sit in front of their homes.  The men were absent; they were out searching for work. These paintings are experiments in form and colour, the figures are fluid, without definite form, the features of the faces incomplete, or even completely missing.





Unity - the Women

Women with White Wall as Background

The Junta Years:

The seven years of the rule of the military dictatorship in Greece were difficult for everyone: the regime abolished civil rights, dissolved political parties, and exiled, imprisoned and tortured people who had opposing beliefs. Repression, censorship, torture and the suppression of human rights cast a shadow over the whole country.

Kokkinidis used the image of the oil lamp to express this dark shadow that had fallen over the land.

He continued working. The paintings of this period are subtle but with powerful symbolism: most paintings are full of stripes referencing the jails that so many activists had been incarcerated in. Red is one of the predominant colours.  'What else could I possibly paint?' he asked. 'Paint still-lives so as not to disturb them?'  Most of the paintings of that period are of women - so many men were in prison or exiled on bare, uninhabited islands.

Portrait of a Woman

Portrait of a Woman

During this period Kokkinidis also produced the series 'Motherhood' where he explored the relationship of mother and child, the fear for the future especially for young people and the absence of the male figure, the father.

From the Motherhood series

On the 14th of August he Lost his Father

In Hospital

Sakis Karagiorgas, 1972

The stripes are very prominent in this painting, as is the covered mouth of the man depicted, a clear indication of the lack of free expression







My Father



On November 14, 1973 students at the Athens Polytechnic went on strike, occupied the building and started protesting against the military junta. In the early hours of November 17th, the junta sent a tank through the gates of the Polytechnic. 24 people were killed and hundreds of civilians were left injured. The uprising triggered a series of events which led to the end of military rule and parliamentary democracy was restored. The 17th of November is a holiday for all educational establishments in Greece and various commemorative events are held throughout the country.

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