Thursday 8 August 2013

Kyriakos Katzourakis - A Retrospective

Kyriakos Katzourakis, at the Benaki Museum, Pireos Street Annexe.
An extremely thought-provoking exhibition. Katzourakis is a prolific artist who has experimented with all kinds of styles and genres, not just in painting, but also photography, film, video art and theatre stage sets. The publication of his latest book, 'Order into Chaos', coincides with the exhibition, and his latest film 'Small Revolts' was screened at the Benaki while we were there.
He lived and worked under the dark shadow of the junta in the 1960s and then moved to London in 1972 where his work took a different direction and led to an attempt to combine the two different worlds that he inhabited.
Part of the New Greek realist group, his work is imbued with a very strong political flavour. His art is a mixture of painful, almost clinical recording of reality but also an anarchist explosion of unordered images emanating from the land of dreams, instinctive association and nightmare. An able, critical reader of the narrative of the Hellenic 1930s generation, he entered into dialogue with those artists, as well as others that have influenced his work such as Bacon, Velasquez, Picasso. His greatest influences have been Tsarouchis and Caravaggio's chiaroscuro.
'Everything starts with painting', he says. 'People drew before they spoke. Our visual experience of the world comes first before everything else'.
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Instead of recording this exhibition in chronological order, I felt I had to make my own categories, ones that made sense to me. This is the first of three posts on his work.

Polaroid with my Shadow, 1972 (acrylic on canvas)

401 Hospital, 1975 (acrylic on canvas)

Three Mirrors, 1990, (oil on canvas)

Ippokrateio Hospital, 1990, (oil on canvas)

Menidi, 2001, (acrylic on canvas)

A Story, 1993, (acrylic on canvas)

A closer look at one of the panels





Dialogue with Other Artists:

Bacon, 1966 (oil on canvas)

Café Velasquez, 1976 (acrylic on canvas)

Yvonne Poussin, 1976 (oil on canvas)

Les Mademoiselles d'Avignon, 2012 (oil on canvas)

Bacon's Entrance, 2010, (oil on canvas)

The Massacre of the Innocents, 2012, (oil on canvas)

Las Meninas, 1976 (oil on canvas) - this painting was not part of the exhibition but is in the National Gallery in Athens.

An exploration of, and dialogue with, the 1930s Greek School of Painting:

Hydra, 1966 (oil on canvas)

Mirror, 1965 (acrylic on canvas)

The Mountain, 1976 (oil on canvas)

A re-working of Tsarouchis

Chrysanthi, 1980, (oil on wood)

A conversation with Tsarouchis, again.

Katia with Mirror, 1987 (oil on canvas)

Penelope, 2013 (oil on canvas)

Alexander in Veria, 2012 (oil on canvas)

Giorgione - Portrait, 1980 (oil on wood)


Gypsy, 1973 (oil on wood) on the left,  and Myrto, 1973 (oil on wood) on the right

Stage Sets:

Iphigenia at Aulis, 1990

Women of Troy, 1992

Alcestis, 1992

Happy End, 1997.

Sketches and Prints:

A print about Rigas Ferraios, one of the Greek freedom fighters during the 1821 Revolution which led to the liberation of Greece from the Turks.

Feature Films:

Katzourakis has made three feature films. 'Small Revolts' (2009) , the last of the trilogy whose theme is 'how much can women bear' was showing while we were in the gallery. In the first film of the trilogy 'The Way West' , Irina, the protagonist commits suicide. Things are equally grim for the second Irina, the protagonist of the second film. 'Small Revolts'  is about Anna, who was abused by her father and who then marries a man who is into trafficking and who abuses her. She manages to escape from him, so this film has a more optimistic ending.

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