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Visionary Greek’s artistic bent December 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.

Museum of Natural History showing the paintings and sculptures of its founder, Angelos Goulandris
Angelos Goulandris’s works are geometric and simple, yet imaginative and full of energy, reflecting his multifaceted personality. ‘All his artistic creations are a reflection of his very particular and charismatic character,’ said museum director Petros Zambelis, a friend and colleague of 40 years.

Angelos Goulandris had a feeling about what would the future would bring.

Ever since 1964, when the benefactor founded the Museum of Natural History in Kifissia, he had predicted that the greatest problem of the 21st century would be the management of the earth’s resources and environment and that these issues would top the agenda of countries’ bilateral relations. An activist and visionary, Goulandris cared for his surroundings and for the environment and poured all of his energy into creating a small ark for nature that would educate the generations to come.

Now, 10 years after his death, the time has come to get to know a different aspect of his character. In his public life Goulandris was, according to his wife, Niki, who continues his work to this day with unwavering commitment, a true activist. In his private life he showed a deep interest for the fine arts and tried his hand at them as well. Several of his paintings, drawings and sculptures, which are currently on display at the museum, reveal that Goulandris was both a receiver of the sensitive messages being sent by nature as well as a champion of harmony and beauty. We recently visited the exhibition and were shown around by museum director Petros Zambelis, a colleague who had worked closely with Goulandris for some 40 years.

“He never thought of himself as an artist,” said Zambelis. “In what little free time he had he liked to express himself through the arts; through painting, sculpting, etching and so on. He was self-taught. He had a perfectly organized studio where he would spend many nights making things.”

His works are geometric and simple, yet imaginative and full of energy, reflecting his multifaceted personality. “All his artistic creations are a reflection of his very particular and charismatic character,” said Zambelis. “He was a man with a sweet temper, honest, dynamic and persistent. Even though in his public life he carried a great weight of responsibility on his shoulders and a great concern for the future of the world, in his art he expressed his joy and childlike qualities. When he learned that he was ill he asked doctors if they could prolong his life for another three years so he could finish certain projects. And that’s how it happened. He fulfilled his responsibilities and then he died.”

Niki Goulandri was also present on the tour of the exhibition and agreed to say a few words about her late husband. “He never wanted to present himself as an artist,” she said. “He had held two very successful exhibitions in America and another in Athens. He received excellent reviews. But this was never his ambition. He wanted an outlet for his needs, his feelings, something where he could express himself creatively. He often said that since he frequently could not understand people and come to terms with their contradictions, he would turn to art and its materials. That is where he found harmony and symmetry.”

According to Niki Goulandri, he would always start his work with one simple line and from that would grow the strong, lively compositions to be seen in the exhibition.

Our visit to the exhibition was made amid happy children’s voices as students filed through the halls of the Museum of Natural History. The highest goal of the museum has been achieved: Over 4 million people have visited the museum since it opened and its contribution to the education of the young is recognized internationally.

Forming the philosophical outlook of the institution > Angelos Goulandris (1921-1996), founder and president of the Museum of Natural History for 32 years, was the son of a well-known Andros family of shipowners. He was one of the first benefactors in Greece to predict the effects of man’s abuse of the environment and the first to take action.

In 1964 he founded the Museum of Natural History, whose object was to promote scientific research into the Greek environment and to hold a leading educational role.

The museum’s goal was to help Greeks understand the wealth of their country’s natural environment and its preservation as matter of personal interest. Goulandris’s role in the institution was not just that of benefactor; he gave it its direction and its philosophical outlook.

In 1979 Goulandris was awarded the Silver Medal of Natural Sciences by the Academy of Athens and in 1990 the Onassis Foundation bestowed upon him the international Man and Nature prize. He was also named an honorary doctor of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University in 1988.

Related Links > http://www.gnhm.gr/

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