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Viewing the ordinary as sublime October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The neon sign of a railway station canteen or the closed bars of a basement leather shop in Thessaloniki may seem like mundane images to spur one’s creative vision.

But artist Sotiris Panousakis singled out such commonplace scenes in public spaces, photographed them and then transformed them into a series of large-scale paintings whose warm, inward quality have nothing in common with the initial, real-life images.

In his paintings, presented at the artist’s third solo show at “the apartment” gallery, Panousakis turns the fluorescent, commercial signage or the lighting and interior design of restaurants and stores into warm colors and velvety textures. The eye-catching, standardized aesthetics of commercial spaces acquire the craftsmanship and unique quality of painting. Panousakis “deconstructs” the language of commercial signage and uses the initial images in an entirely different context. The artist intends to draw attention to the properties of painting, to explore its language and its impact. It is a concern that several artists share at a time when much of contemporary art is taken up by works that employ the so-called new media.

Interestingly, although Panousakis is a pure painter, he bases his work on the photographs that he takes of his subject. Each photograph is cropped to produce the desirable effect. A photocopy of the cropped version provides the model for his painting. Each stage takes the original image further away from what it looks like in real life. The colors change and the surfaces appear rougher and unfinished.

With photography and printing acting as mediators, the final painting becomes, in the artist’s own words, “the representation of a representation.” The original image becomes vague and representation gives way to abstraction. The play between the two is constant: From a distance, one of the paintings has the clarity of photorealism, but from up close the texture of painting prevails over description.

Panousakis’s paintings explore disguise and transformation: Public spaces are made to feel like private domains and commercial signs appear like abstract shapes. Painted with skill, they immerse the viewer in an interesting play between form and color, representation and abstraction.

At the apartment Gallery, 21 Voulis street, tel 210 3215469, to November 18. Opening hours Wed-Fri 11 a.m – 8 p.m., Sat 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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Reboutsika’s horizons widen with international award October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek, Music Life Greek.
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Evanthia Reboutsika was the Discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards

An established musician on Greece’s domestic music circuit, composer and violinist Evanthia Reboutsika has now made an impact beyond the local frontier by winning the Discovery of the Year Prize at the recent World Soundtrack Awards for 2006.

This award is important recognition for emerging composers for cinema and has already proven to be a good indicator of the Oscar for Best Film Music.

The awards, held by the World Soundtrack Academy, were presented during the 33rd Flanders International Film Festival in Ghent.

Reboutsika, who attended the event, won the prize for the soundtrack to the Turkish film “My Father and My Son.” The Greek composer emerged victorious from a short list of five composers that included the internationally renowned rock star Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, a regular collaborator, for their soundtrack to “The Proposition” as well as Douglas Pipes for his music for the film “Monster House.”

Commenting on her distinction, Reboutsika said the award gave her particular joy because it concerned an “unlikely” collaboration between a Turkish film director and a Greek composer. Reboutsika’s prize has prompted wider distribution interest for the “My Father and My Son” soundtrack, released on Cantini, an independent label operated by the winning composer and her partner-colleague Panayiotis Kalantzopoulos.

Alberto Iglesias won two awards for his music to “The Constant Gardener”, Soundtrack Composer of the Year and Best Original Soundtrack. The competition’s Public Choice Award went to Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla for the soundtrack of “Brokeback Mountain.”

Other awards included Best Original Song Written Directly for a Film, which went to veteran songwriter Randy Newman for “Our Town,” a number performed by James Taylor and used in the film “Cars.” The award for Best Young Belgian Composer was won by Alexis Koustoulidis for his score for the silent short film “Le Fauteuil Vivant.”

It is worth noting that, besides the Oscar winner Santaolalla, previous winners of the Discovery of the Year Award have included Antonio Pinto for penning the soundtrack to “City of God” and Craig Armstrong for “Moulin Rouge.” 

‘El Greco’ sails with good wind October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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After a wait of seven years, filmmaker Yiannis Smaragdis embarks on artist’s biopic in Crete

Britain’s Nick Ashdon with Greece’s Dimitra Matsouka joins a multinational cast and crew as the title character in Yiannis Smaragdis’s ‘El Greco.’ The director is delighted at the way in which the local community of Iraklion, Crete, has embraced the project.

Time has been wound back a few centuries at the former American army base outside Iraklion, Crete, where filmmaker Yiannis Smaragdis has transformed the exposition center there into a set for his long-awaited feature film “El Greco.”

The scene is set in the room of a Venice pension. El Greco (played by Britain’s Nick Ashdon) has fallen in love with the daughter of the duke of Iraklion (Dimitra Matsouka), the man who killed the painter’s father.

El Greco, who was born Domenikos Theotocopoulos, has realized that he no longer belongs in Venice and when he voices his reservations to the young woman, she asks him to paint her portrait before he leaves. He kisses her tenderly on the forehead and turns to his canvas.

Smaragdis, who has been working on this project for the past seven years, walks around the set giving orders with obvious enthusiasm; both because he is pleased the film has finally got off the ground and because the local community has welcomed it. “Everyone has expressed their love for the project in many different ways,” he says. “There is a good wind in our sails.” “The people playing the noblemen in one scene are important people in Iraklion society, who left their jobs to participate in the film,” he adds.

“The most important thing is that the Cretan people have embraced Nick in the role of El Greco,” continues Smaragdis. “My only fear is that I may not live up to the trust they have put in the project.”

The film, explains Smaragdis, is partly factual and partly fictional. “We have written, along with screenwriter Jackie Pavlenko, a free adaptation of Dimitris Siatopoulos’s book ‘El Greco, God’s Painter.’

Cast and crew > The rest of the cast of “El Greco” which is expected to screen in mainstream theaters in about a year, comprises, among others, Lakis Lazopoulos, Sotiris Moustakas, Dina Consta, Yiannis Bezos, Giorgos Haralambidis, Giorgos Christodoulou, Eleni Kastani and Tassos Palandzidis.

The music has been composed by Vangelis Papathanassiou (1982 Oscar award winner for the “Chariots of Fire” film’s music, http://www.vangelisworld.com)  and the photography is directed by Nikos Smaragdis.

The sets have been designed by Damianos Zafeiris and the costumes, over 800 in number, by Spain’s Lala Huete, twice a recipient of the Goya Award.

Engravings reflect de Chirico’s Greece October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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An exhibition organized in Volos, the artist’s birthplace

In his writings and the interviews he gave, Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) was usually as enigmatic as the mood in his famous metaphysical paintings of 1909-1918. The degree to which he considered his work to draw its inspiration from Greek antiquity remains therefore unclear. During the 1920s, when de Chirico’s work entered a more conservative phase, the artist claimed to be a “classical painter,” yet the esoteric quality of many of his paintings and the impact of the painter Arnold Bocklin on the artist’s work give credence to his claim that what inspired him was the Nordic landscape.

Either way, the fact is that de Chirico’s work is filled with themes inspired by Greek mythology. It also includes plenty of recurring motifs that hark back to his childhood upbringing in the city of Volos.

The Greek-inspired aspect in the oeuvre of this great surrealist painter is underlined in an important exhibition on 100 engravings by de Chirico. Held at the Giorgio de Chirico Center of Art in Volos, which is the artist’s birthplace, the exhibition draws from the Lisa Sotili collection. It is curated by art historian and adviser to the Volos Municipality Faye Tzanetoulakou and is produced by Nikolas Velissiotis, who produces classical music for French national radio. Texts in the supplementary catalog are by Antonio Vastano and are taken from the Giorgio de Chirico catalogs by the Italian Bora publications.

Structured along recurring themes in the work of de Chirico, the engravings include the famous “Piazza d’Italia” series with the sleeping figure of Ariadne as the major figure, the “Gladiator” and “Dioskouroi”, Castor and Polydeuces, the twin sons of Zeus series, but also the lesser-known series of the “Bagni Mysteriosi” (Mysterious Baths), where the recurring motif of the seashore changing cabin is said to stem from the artist’s childhood reminiscences.

The train is probably the most direct reference to the artist’s upbringing. De Chirico’s father was an Italian railroad engineer and was in charge of the construction of the railroad network in Thessaly.

The departure of the Argonauts as well as the Centaurs, topics which are directly linked to Thessaly, are among the most famous themes in the work of de Chirico. Other Greek-inspired figures and themes include Hector and Andromache, Orestes and Odysseus.

Greek mythology was the inspiration for a series of watercolors that de Chirico made in the early 1960s on a commission by IRI, Italy’s largest state holding company. That same year IRI launched 60 albums, collector’s items, with these images. One of those albums belongs to the Giorgio and Ida de Chirico Foundation in Rome, which donated it to the Giorgio de Chirico Center of Art in Volos on the occasion of the current exhibition. The album which is exhibited in one of the exhibition’s sections is the only work of de Chirico owned by this Greek institution, which is named after the great Italian artist but is home to the Damtsas collection of 19th and 20th century Greek art. The donation of the album may launch future collaborations with the foundation in Rome.

Giorgio de Chirico Center of Art, 3 Metamorphoseos street, Volos, tel 24210 31701, to end-October. Open Mon-Fri 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., 6-9 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Aristotle bust ‘best likeness’ October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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A Roman-era marble bust of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle recently discovered beneath the Acropolis is the “best-preserved likeness ever found,” archaeologists maintained yesterday.

The 46-centimeter-high bust of the famous thinker, who had been a teacher to Alexander the Great, had probably adorned a villa belonging to a rich Roman in the area of Makriyianni, according to a senior archaeologist on the Acropolis excavations, Alcestis Horemi.

The bust, which dates to the first century AD, is the first to confirm contemporary descriptions of Aristotle’s hooked nose, Horemi said. Roman-era busts of Aristotle show the philosopher’s nose as straight or upturned, Horemi said. Recent Acropolis excavations have also unearthed busts of Emperor Hadrian and a priest from the Theater of Dionysus, also Roman-era creations.

The Evzones elite guard October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Hellenic Light Americas.
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The Evzones elite guard  The Evzones elite guard walk past the Parthenon during a ceremony to mark United Nations Day yesterday morning.

Greece will organize this year’s annual concert in New York today to mark the UN’s coming into force on October 24, 1945, according to the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry.

An exhibition titled ‘In Praise of the Olive’ emphasizing the mythology and history of the olive in the Mediterranean region and in Greek culture, is also being held in the UN.

Cyprus a golfing mecca October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Golf.
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The Cypriot Government has stated quite categorically that it is determined to make Cyprus a golfing mecca. The island is blessed with 300-plus sunny days a year, perfect for those that like “a good walk spoiled”.

Plans have already been agreed for several new golf courses on the island. One of the first off the drawing board is a spectacular new 18 hole golf course and leisure complex in Tersefanou backed by the European Golf Federation.

If Mark Twain could not have been tempted onto the golf course, he might have been enticed with some of Cyprus’ other treasures as so many tourists and investors are every year. The tourist industry is facing a boom time; 2.4 million tourists visit the island annually, three times the island’s population!

Besides the golfing facilities, the Government has big plans to further develop tourism as a whole on the island. It plans to improve air travel, increase bed space, there are currently not enough to meet demands, upgrade existing accommodation and tourist destinations, restaurants, museums, etc, develop nature trails, cycling routes, information centres and such like.

After EU accession, Cyprus is no longer just another tourist destination offering sandy beaches and fun. It’s becoming the home, work place, business destination, retirement place for more than half a million people coming from all over Europe.

UK investors in particular are attracted to Cyprus. Being a former colonial island, the legal and conveyancing system, as well as the banking system are British based and English is spoken by practically everyone. For the large retirement and second home communities (66k ex-pats), it is almost a “home from home”, with Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Next and other familiar names on the island.

To meet the increasing demand for new property (15-20% pa), new residential developments are springing up all over the island including those on or near the proposed golf centres.

Compared with the traditional golfing holiday home favourites of Spain and Portugal, it is 20-30% cheaper to buy in Cyprus. Prices have been rising steadily though, especially since EU membership in May 2004. Prices are set to rise again once they join the Eurozone in 2008. At the same time though, interest rates are falling and the Cypriot economy is booming.

There are no purchase restrictions for Brits wanting to buy in Cyprus, plus homeowners can use their equity in their UK property to buy in Cyprus. There’s good news too for mature investors as Cyprus has neither inheritance nor wealth tax.

In order to secure a space near the green, or on the beach, investors need to get a wiggle on as there are strict planning policies in place, restricting any tall, and or, densely packed buildings. It is said that within five years all prime locations will have been used up. Also, an expected property boom in the next couple of years could see prices rising by over 50%.

As a guide to what your money could get you, a new development of 21 one and two bed apartments in three blocks is available from Where on Earth (whereonearth.biz). The Suncoast Gardens development is in Pervolia, a small, picturesque, seaside village just along the coast from Larnaca near Kiti village. Situated just a 10 minute drive to Larnaca City Centre, Larnaca International Airport and the upcoming 18 hole Golf Resort near Tersefanou village.

Prices start from £74,000 or CYP£1,250 per m2. The apartments on the golf course are about to be marketed at £2,317 to CYP£2,000 per m2 and will rise from there.

The mix of the best coastline, great year-round weather, low prices, the relative under-development in this region and the new international golf courses make Cyprus an obvious choice for investors.