Municipal Art Gallery, Hania-Greece
The exhibition “Beyond the real” examines the influence that the surrealist movement exercised on the Greek art scene. The show’s starting point is a work by Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) entitled “The railway station”. Executed in 1936, it is among his first surrealist experiments and was included at the Venice Biennale, in 1954, which was devoted to surrealism.
Engonopoulos, a painter and poet, enriched his surrealist paintings with clear references to the culture and history of Greece. Abolishing logic, he drew images from the subconscious creating absurd narrative stories that combine antiquity with the Byzantium, the period of the Greek Revolution, and his own epoch.
Antoine Mayo (1905-1990), a Greek painter of the diaspora born in Egypt, was in Paris in the 1920s when surrealism flourished. There, he encountered many surrealist artists and poets, but never joined the original group. In 1929, he exhibited at the Parisian “Galerie des Quatre Chemins” with Giorgio de Chirico, founder of Italy’s “Metaphysical School of Painting”, a source of inspiration for many surrealists. Mayo was unknown in Greece prior to 1983, when he showed his paintings in Athens for the first time. Engonopoulos was left alone to face the suspicions that many Greeks felt towards André Breton’s automatic surrealist method and the bizarre images that resulted from this random process.
In the late sixties and early seventies, a new generation of Greek artists emerged, aiming at capturing in painting a world beyond the real; possibly as a reaction to the military dictatorship that governed Greece from 1967 to 1974.
Alkis Ghinis, George Derpapas, Alexandros Issaris, Sarantis Karavousis, Thodoros Pantaleon, and Dimitris Yeros do not form a collective surrealist group. Rather, they are independent artists whose paintings deliberately recreate a dream-like atmosphere, reminiscent of surrealist art. Allusions to Greece consistently appear, adding a personal note to their oeuvre.
“Beyond the real”
29 May- 21 August 2009
Exhibition Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00-14:00, Monday-Friday 19:00-22:00. Sunday closed.