Monday 30 January 2017

Yannis Tsarouchis- Illustrating an Autobiography - Part Two

Illustrating an Autobiogtaphy - Part Two, Yannis Tsarouchis at the Benaki Museum, Pireos.

This is the second part of this major exhibition of the artist's work. You can see images from the first part  here . You can also see more of his work  here .

A member of the Armos Art group which was established in 1949, Tsarouchis' took two different directions: towards the orientalist and sensualist with a strong influence from Matisse, and towards the ancient Greek ideal as expressed by the Renaissance and Baroque movements. His art is consequently a synthesis of the technique he learnt from the Impressionists whilst he was in Paris in the 1930s; elements of classical Hellenic sculpture and vase painting; and elements of the Byzantine art that represents the oriental side of the Greek aesthetic. Present in his work are also traces of folk art, as in weaving and shadow theatre. These constant references to Greece's past and present, from ancient sculpture to folk art, formed his vision reflecting the complexities of Greece's identity. They were blended together because of his desire to express the many ingredients that comprised 'Greekness'.

His depiction of sailors, often painted in the nude, which abound with homoerotic references was seen as controversial and as demeaning to the Greek male and were taken down by censors. Similarly, some of his paintings were seen as iconoclastic and condemned by the powerful Greek Orthodox Church.

Naval Training Facility, Poros, 1940s (watercolour on paper)

Portrait of A.G., 1942, (oil on canvas)

Illustration for Odysseas Elytis' poetry collection, The Sun, the First, 1942 (ink on paper)

Peasant and Sailor, 1948, (oil on wood)

'This is the second of the three doors I painted in the house in Cholargos. These doors would have been destroyed by the rain had Antonis Vousvounis not taken the bold initiative of buying one for the price of three new ones. The amount he paid might seems little today, but nobody was prepared to spend that much then'.

Evgenios Spatharis as an Angel as part of the larger piece, Apotheosis of Athanasios Diakos, 1948, (oil on canvas)

Seated Sailor and Reclining Nude, 10948, (oil on plywood)

'This painting was taken down by the police on the last day of the exhibition on the grounds that it was insulting to the Greek army. Had it not been taken down, the Military Police would have come and smashed everything in Zappeion where it was displayed. Note that the same exhibition featured a mythological painting by K. Xenakis, depicting a satyr with a full erection: this did not disturb the police at all'.

Mr Friar, 1946, (oil on plywood)

The Arrest of Three Communists, Each Resisting in his Own Way: the First Has Surrendered, The Second is Struggling, and the Third is under the Bed. First Days of the 1944 Uprising. 1944, (watercolour on paper)

Kalligas' House, 1957, (watercolour and pencil on paper)

The Sacrifice of Iphigenia (with contemporary costumes), 1955, (pigment with animal glue)

The Forgotten Guard, 1956, (oil on canvas)

Kafeneion Mavrokefalos , 1955, (oil on canvas)

Kafeneion Parthenon, 1955, (oil on canvas)

The Port of Piraeus, Seen from Gioni's House, 1955, (oil on canvas)

Woman from Atalanti with Bag and Flag, 1956, (pigments with animal glue on canvas)

Eros Measuring Architecture's Proportions, 1961, (watercolour on paper)

Sailor in the Sun, 1966, (oil on canvas)

The HiIl of the Acropolis,  (oil on canvas)

Landscape, 1960-62, (oil on canvas)

Landscape - Attica, 1966, (oil on canvas)

Landscape - Attica, 1966, (oil on canvas)

Study for Zephyrus (Tasos), 1965, (oil on canvas)

Despina Wearing a Lacy Blouse, 1968, (oil on canvas)

Portrait of French Student, 1972, (oil on canvas)

Dancing in Life and in the Theatre, 1963-68, (oil on canvas)

Tsamiko and Zeimbekiko (Greek dances), 1971, (oil on canvas)

Erophili, 1988, (oil on canvas)

'I have made numerous drawings of Erophili, the heroine in Chortatzis' tragedy, when she first sees the head, heart and hands of her lover, Panaretos. This work is deeply influenced by Byzantine and Eastern art. It differs from my quests in Paris when I was painting the Four Seasons. Every now and then, I revisit these two perceptions and this shapes the story of my painting. The accentuation of light and dark tones is a direct reference to the Renaissance and classic drawing'.

Dominique as 'Autumn' (from the Four Seasons), 1978, (oil on canvas)

Lila de Nobili, Study for a Portrait of Tsarouchis Wearing a Cap, 1972, (oil on paper)

Friday 27 January 2017

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, named in remembrance of those who suffered in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides around the world. The chosen date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Union in 1945.

Given the rise of xenophobia, racism and hate crime in so many parts of the world, I am posting two songs from The Ballad of Mauthausen by Mikis Theodoradis as a way of commemorating this very important day in the hope that we can defeat intolerance and prejudice.

A life-long political activist, Theodorakis was tortured and imprisoned in 1967 then exiled for his resistance to the 1967-74 military junta in Greece. After his return to Greece he continued to be politically active and even today at the age of 92 he is one of the most vocal critics of the Syriza government and its betrayal of the people of Greece.

The Ballad of Mauthausen was written by poet Iacovos Kambanellis who was a prisoner in Mauthausen during WWII. At the beginning of the 1960s he wrote his memories of this time under the title of Mauthausen. He also wrote four poems on the subject and he gave Mikis Theodorakis the opportunity to set them to music. Maria Farantouris' unique dramatic voice and style complement the music. The songs are rousing and incredibly powerful and a profound testament to the power of human resistance to tyranny and oppression.

This song is about a man who describes how beautiful his beloved is and asks the other inmates if they have seen her.  The song maintains the poetic structure of the Biblical Song of Songs, until the chilling line, 'Young girls of Mauthausen, young girls of Belsen, have you seen my love?' and the answer 'We saw her in the frozen square, a number on her white hand and a yellow star on her heart'.

This song tells the story of a Jew who collapses on the 'Stairs of Death' at the base of a quarry and is shot by the guard who then orders the Greek prisoner Antonis to lift a double burden or he too will be shot.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Vally Nomidou

I first came across Vally Nomidou's work in Olga Norris' post in Threading Thoughts last August. I was immediately hooked. Olga also mentioned that the Athens Glyptotheque featured one of Nomidou's sculptures so a few days ago we went to have a look.

Nomidou's life-size sculptures of women and girls are made out of paper and paperboard. They are delicate yet strong, vulnerable yet powerful, and totally bewitching. You can read more about her work here

Bien Venue, 2002

Cuts, tears and openings reveal the internal structure of the work.

Monday 23 January 2017

Athens Glyptotheque

Athens Glyptotheque, Alsos Stratou in Goudi, Athens.

Established in 2004, the museum houses a permanent collection of Greek sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries. It's based in two buildings of the former royal stables and a surrounding area of 6,500 m2.

The Glyptotheque is situated in the northern suburbs of Athens, and because we live in the southern suburbs, we had to take a bus and then the metro to get there. We took the metro in Syntagma

and after what seemed like a few minutes we arrived at Katehaki where Angst, an installation by Vasso Peklari (knitted forms with copper) adorned the station.

 Outside the metro station, Santiago Calatrava's pedestrian bridge dominated, soaring into the sky.

An unpleasant walk along a very busy avenue led us to the peace and serenity of the park that is full of sculptures.

Ioannis Avramidis, Temple-Olympeion (small model), (bronze), 1963-74

Dimitris Konstantinou, Genesis, 1985 (bronze)

Bella Raftopoulou, Couple, 1976, (stone)

looking closer

Theodoros Papayannis, Erotic Scene, 1979

Theodoros Papayannis, Nest, 2003 (steel, cement)

looking closer

Dionyssios Gerolymatos, The Stone of Patience, 1970, (kapandriti stone)

Ioannis Avramidis, Polis, 1965-68, (bronze)

Kostas, Koulentianos, Abstract, 1974, (iron)

Theodoros (Papadimetriou), Twelve-Ray Spoked Wheel on Cables Counterbalanced by a Sphere, 1993, (stainless steel and wire)

Yannis Gaitis, Mass Transport or General Transport, 1984, (iron and paint)

 Gerasimos Sklavos, La Passante, 1965, (marble)

Yannis Gaitis, Yellow Heads, 1984, (aluminium, iron)

Yannis Gaitis, Black Heads, 1984, (aluminium, iron)

Giorgos Zongolopoulos, The Dance of Zalongo, 1953, (bronze)

Dionysis Gerolymatos, Recycling, 1983, (marble)

Giorgos Lambrou, Little Men Tightly Clasped, 1982, (bronze)