Monday 20 September 2021

Yannis Tsarouchis at the National Gallery

Yannis Tsarouchis at the National Gallery, Athens.

I was disappointed that there is so little of Tsarouchis' work at the National Gallery. If you want to see more go here . It was good however, seeing some of his work again.

Tsarouchis was born in 1910 in Piraeus 'where the light is silver and gold'. He initially trained in the studio of Byzantine artist Fotis Kontoglou, an influential Greek modernist who introduced him to Byzantine iconography. He later studied at the Athens School of Fine Art. The major influence on Tsarouchis' work however came from a trip to Paris, Istanbul and Italy in the mid-1930s that exposed him to the bohemian lifestyle as well as Renaissance and Impressionist art. 

His work moved in two main directions: an orientalist and sensualist style with strong influences from Matisse, and towards the ancient Greek ideas as expressed by the Renaissance and the Baroque movements. 

The main subjects of his work were neo-classical buildings and sailors. Gay depiction of sailors was seen as very controversial at the time, and his work was taken down repeatedly by the the censors who saw it as unpatriotic and degrading to the Greek male image. He moved to Paris in 1967 in a self-imposed exile to wait out the years of the military dictatorship in Greece. During his exile he designed theater sets for productions at Milan's La Scala, the Greek National Theater, the Dallas Opera and London's Covent Garden.

Man in Grey Suit, 1936, (oil on canvas)

Self-Portrait with Paper Flowers, 1936, (oil on canvas)

Koundouriotissa or Woman, 1948, (tempera on wood, (door))

Neon Cafe (at night), 1956-66, (oil on canvas)

note the sailor

Neon Cafe (daytime), 1956-66, (oil on canvas)

Head of Youth, 1941, (oil on wood panel)

 Sunrise at the Port of Chios, 1965, (oil on canvas)

Sailor and Cupids (fan), 1943, (tempera and ink on wood panel)

looking closer

The Spirit of the Technique, 1960, (watercolour with vinavyl glue on cloth)

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