Tuesday 8 April 2014

Yannis Tsarouchis - Illustrating an Autobiography

Yannis Tsarouchis - Illustrating an Autobiography, Part I, at the Benaki Museum, Pireos.

I found writing this post extremely frustrating: the photographs of the paintings are ruined by too much reflection, there is no exhibition catalogue and there is hardly anything of Tsarouchis' early period on the internet. I was going to abstain from writing up a post but then I thought that I would have no record of it, and it was a fascinating exhibition showing the early period of the painter's work. There were a large number of male nudes, as one would expect of Tsarouchis, but I found some of the other work fascinating as it is so different from what we know of his work. It is predominantly his later work that we are familiar with, after all. You can see some of it here.

There was a lot of biographical information in the exhibition but both Ken and I commented on the fact that there was absolutely no mention of his homosexuality - such a big part of Tsarouchis' life and of his art.

Copy of Coptic Textile from the Benaki Museum, 1931 (watercolour on paper)

Standing Nude, 1932-34 (pencil and oil on canvas)

Nude, Standing, 1933-34 (oil on canvas) 

Nude, Seated, 1933-34 (oil on canvas) 

Still Life, 1934, (oil on plywood) 

Still Life, 1934 (oil on plywood)

Youth in Winter, 1934 (oil on canvas)

Dedicated to the Dead Fiance, 1934 (oil on canvas)  

Landscape: Olympia with Two Columns, 1934 (oil on canvas) 
Man Dressed as an Evzone, with Beaded Curtain, 1935 (oil on canvas) 

Good Solace, 1936 (oil on canvas) 

Portrait of Youth with Paper Flowers,  1936 (oil on canvas)

Reclining Nude, 1936 (oil on canvas) 

Start, (Paris, Rue Ernest Cresson), 1936 (oil on canvas)

Cyclist with Red Vest, 1936 (oil on canvas)

An anecdote that will stay with me: There was a reproduction of a theatre set that he made when he was eight years old which he would use for the staging of various plays. He needed an audience and used his little brother, who he would tie on a chair, to keep him there.


  1. I am so glad that you did put these up on the blog because they are really interesting. His sense of composition and his use of colour is there, and I love so much of the work. I think that the anecdote is delightful too, as someone with a little brother!

    1. Olga, this is just a fraction of the wonderful work that was exhibited - it was a real delight. But I don't understand what is going on with Tsarouchis: it's a though they don't want people to see and appreciate his work. If you are lucky to be able to go to the exhibition, fine, but otherwise, nothing available to see, to explore, to think: no catalogue, no books, no information on the internet. It was the same with the previous exhibition of his work that I went to. It's a mystery.

  2. Perhaps you should ask. You could try emailing the curator of the Benaki exhibition c/o the Benaki, and ask why no biographical surveys are in print. Who knows, maybe they are working on one, including an online archive. I agree that it is odd about there being no books - the online absence is sometimes just the fact that the work is too dispersed and that not enough owners will allow reproduction. It's interesting that this large exhibition has been curated now, so perhaps this is the beginning of an effort.

    1. There was a large exhibition last year, curated in exactly the same way. This is why I am so puzzled - lots of exhibitions, but the art is made available only to those who attend. I don't understand it.

      As for asking, I have, lots of times. This time I was told there will be a book next year when part two of the 'autobiography' will be shown. We will see.