Frissiras Museum, Athens: Painting I – Eclectic affinities

Α Τrilogy of Painting. European Painting Affinities
at the Frissiras Museum.

The fifty year period in European painting (1960 – 2010) reflected in the three exhibitions of the trilogy entitled The Trilogy of Painting. European Painting Affinities, organi zed by the Frissiras Museum from 2013 – 2015, does not merely constitutes the core of its collections; it is, in essence, a crucial shift in the development of representative arts, since after many years of fierce dispute regarding the status of figuration that dominated the first sixty years of the twentieth century in favor of the other forms of artistic expression (abstraction, geometric art) or means (collage, photography, video, installations, performance) it brings figurative painting back at the for efront of contemporary art.

From the first timid attempts originating mostly from England in the sixties, we will see in the following years a plethora of reversions and “revivals” of the painting medium which the critics perceived either as a collective reaction to the crisis and the deadlocks of avant garde or as manipulative gestures from the part of the galleries in order to revive the art market. In Greece, painting never actually retrieved from the forefront or (mostly) the teaching rooms of the School of Fine Arts, thus making many scholars talk of a unique Greek tradition in figurative painting.

Evidently, this kind of trend could hardly be homogeneous since it constantly adopts new and richly diverse expressions. Starting with that of the School of Munich from the second half of the nineteenth century which will be kept alive for many years through the teaching of the graduates of the local School of Fine Arts, later it will seek a different, “national” direction thanks to the efforts of the so – called “ 30’s generation” through the influences from the Fayum painting and Byzantine iconography as well as the substitution of the «Western» oil painting to the domestic egg tempera.

After the War, it will be their turn to teach and influence many students.
In the sixties, Paris will unquestionably become the principal source of almost every artistic influence which will make its appearance in Athens and, after the prevalence of abstraction and the avant garde, the Beaux Arts studios which will return to painting, will gradually re-establish their links with art in Greece.

Painting Ι
European Painting Affinities, 1960 – 1980

19 January 2013 – 12 May 2013

The first part of the trilogy, entitled Painting I, presented at the building of 3 Monis Asteriou str, from 19 January to May 12, 2013, focuses on the period 1960 – 1980.

These were the most restless years of the second half of the twentieth century, both in Europe and in Greece as far as the sociopolitical situation is concerned. The dominant issues were the Vietnam War and the reaction it triggered in the US, the May ’68 protests in Paris, the Prague Spring and the intervention of the Warsaw Pact. In Greece, in the sixties, at the centre of public attention were the revolts demanding education reforms and the governmental instability which led to the military junta, (1967-1974), the Polytechnic uprising and the Cyprus tragedy.

After the restitution of the republic, a period of nervousness and unease followed which allowed an unparalleled freedom of artistic expression accompanied by an intensely politicized artistic output. In Europe, it signified (the last?) avant garde and new mediums years in painting.

The painters who insisted on figuration did so timidly and at the margins of the most significant artistic fora, with the exception of Great Britain which was at the forefront throughout the whole postwar era. The seventies brought a collective fatigue with the ideas of the avant garde figures and the restitution of painting paradigms.

In Greece, naturally, things were different given the coexistence of virtually three different generations; the successors of the painting tradition and the «Greekness» of the thirties, the avant gardists of the so-called sixties generation who either act from Paris (mostly) or return to Greece in order to teach and enjoy the fruits of their success and, finally, the new, dynamic generation of the seventies, strongly political and, at the same time, devoted to figurative painting, occasionally assuming different names (New Realists, School of Athens).

The latter two «generations», almost in parallel , became professors at the School of Arts. Consequently, in their turn, they got their own «followers» who passed their artistic debates to the decades that followed.

Exhibition texts by Thanassis Moutsopoulos
All works are from the Frissiras museum collections.

The participating artists include:
Valavanides Yannis, Byzantios Dikos, Goulakos Pericles, Theofilaktopoulos Makis, Katzourakis Kyriakos, Kessanlis Nikos, Kottis Yannis, Kypraios Vassilis, Botsoglou Chronis, Mytaras Dimitris, Paniaras Kostas, Romanou Chryssa, Skoulakis Dimos, Tsoclis Costas, Chouliaras Nicos, Christophorou John, Ioannou Stavros, Psychopaidis Yannis , Adami Valerio, Andrea Pat, Arroyo Eduardo, Auerbach Frank, Blake Peter, Cremonini Leonardo, DADO, Feher Laszlo, Golub Leon, Hockney David, Howson Peter, Kirby John, Paladino Mimo, R.B Kitaj, Rego Paula, Rustin Jean, Segui Antonio, Szafran Sam, Van Geest Arie, Veermesch Jose, Velickovic Vladimir.

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