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Proud and Famous Greeks > Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Greek Cypriot Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Entrepreneur > ‘Without my dad, I might have owned a chain of kebab shops’

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, 40, set up easyJet when he was 28, and owns easyGroup, which specialises in car hire, hotels and cruise holidays. He is a supporter of Leonard Cheshire Care Homes, a charity for the disabled

If I wasn’t talking to you right now I’d be… > Watching sailing down at Valencia harbour.

A phrase I use far too often is… > I probably talk far too much about work.

I wish people would take more notice of… > The better aspects of corporatism. The media in particular focuses too much on scandals and abuses committed by companies. Plenty of us don’t take a salary, treat our shareholders right and fly no-frills, yet it goes unnoticed.

The most surprising thing to happen to me was… > The way in which easyJet got off the ground. There was a lot of prejudice and criticism of the idea so I was surprised with what a success it became, and how it became so popular with wealthy people.

A common misperception of me is… > That I’m self made. My father was in the shipping industry back in Greece and gave me a good start in life. When people assume that I’m a “rags-to-riches” story they are sadly mistaken!

I’m good at… > Travelling light.

I’m very bad at… > Turning up at the office and organising people on a 9 to 5 basis. I like to delegate.

I’m not a politician but… > I think that more employment opportunities need to be available for disabled people. Currently something like 50 per cent of disabled people are unemployed and encouraging them to start businesses and become self-employed would be a good idea. I also think we should develop a culture of giving among the rich in this country. People like me need to be more like our counterparts in the US and realise we have a debt to pay to society.

The ideal night out is… > Spent out on a Greek island under the stars.

In moments of weakness I… > Cope pretty well. I try to focus, don’t panic and make sure I have always thought things through.

In another life I’d have been… > A different kind of businessman! I think that if I hadn’t had my dad’s support at the start of my career I would still have had the entrepreneurial instinct, but might have ended up owning a chain of kebab shops instead.


Leonidas the hoplite July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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leonidas_the_hoplite.jpg  Marble bust of a hoplite, known as ‘Leonidas’ (480-470 BC) from the Archaeological Museum of Sparta. It is part of the exhibition ‘Athens-Sparta: From the 8th Century to the 5th Century BC’ at the Museum of the Olive and Olive Oil in Sparta.

The period between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars is the subject of the second room in the exhibition.

The bust of Leonidas, dated from 480-470 BC, dominates the room. A rare example of Laconian sculpture, it represents a hoplite, probably the Spartan King Leonidas. Surrounding the bust are arrowheads from the Battle of Thermopylae, a bronze helmet which appears to have belonged to an Assyrian who fought at Marathon or Salamis, a bronze figurine depicting a young female Spartan athlete, and vases.

The final exhibits came from a mass grave that was discovered in the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos a few years ago during excavation work for the Athens metro. The grave held the remains of victims of the plague that struck Athens at the start of the Peloponnesian War.

150 exhibits at the Sparta Museum July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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dioskouroi.jpg   A piece commemorating the Dioskouroi (late 6th – early 5th century BC) from the Archaeological Museum of Sparta.

If you’re in Sparta anytime between late July and September, for work or vacation, make sure you find time to visit the exhibition on Athens and Sparta from the 8th to the 5th century BC at the Olive and Olive Oil Museum.

The exhibition is a joint initiative by the Piraeus Group Culture Foundation, the National Archaeological Museum and the Fifth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

The 150 exhibits depict moments in the political, cultural and economic history of the two leading city-states in ancient Greece from the 8th to the 5th centuries BC. The purpose of the exhibition is not only to highlight those aspects but also to focus on their similarities and differences, seen within the context of the constantly changing dynamic in their relationship, with brief stopovers at the Persian Wars (492-479 BC), and the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC).

The opening at the Olive and Olive Oil Museum coincides with the opening of the Museum’s new multipurpose room. The first room presents Athens and Sparta at the time of the Persian Wars through vases, sculpture and craftwork that reflect the social and economic developments that took place in the two city-states from the late Geometric age to the Archaic age (8th-7th century BC). Here can be seen the bone figurines from the temple of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, the statue of a kore from an Attic workshop and the Laconian commemorative relief of the Dioskouroi.

A tribute to the renowned sculptor July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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A tribute to the renowned sculptor and his much-emulated style over the centuries

marble_relief.jpg   A marble relief plaque from a pedestal or altar (350-325 BC), depicting a musical contest between Apollo and Marsyas. Found at Mantineia, Arcadia, it is now in the National Archaeological Museum. It is by Praxiteles or a member of his workshop.

The Praxiteles exhibition which opens on July 26 has been condensed compared to what was on display at the Louvre, where many more works were crowded together, including a number of more recent works.

“This exhibition contains fewer works,” said Museum Director Nikos Kaltsas. “But the best-known statue types attributed to Praxiteles are represented, although with a small number of Roman copies.”

Kaltsas wanted the public to see works from other Greek Museums that are related not only to the work of the famed sculptor, but to work by members of his family, his father and two sons, who were also sculptors in the 4th and early 3rd centuries BC.

The 79 exhibits are from the Louvre, the British Museum, the Vatican Museums, the Capitolio in Rome, the State Museum of Dresden, the Musee de l’Arles et de la Provence Antiques, the Bibliotheque National de France, the Museo Archeologico Regionale Antonio Salinas, as well as from the Museums of the Ancient Agora, Elefsina, Vravrona, Thebes, Kos, Rhodes, Corfu, Corinth, Iraklion and Patras, and the Numismatic and Benaki Museums in Athens.

Among the objects on display are statue bases bearing the signatures of Praxiteles, his father Cephisodotus the elder, and his sons, Cephisodotus the younger and Timarchus, as well as a cast of the Hermes from Olympia. Spread out over four rooms, the exhibition starts with four statue bases bearing the signature of Praxiteles, coins depicting statues identified as works by the sculptor, and the Ephebe of Marathon.

The second group comprises the few 4th century BC sculptures associated with the renowned sculptor or with his studio, such as the plaques from Mantineia. Then come the Roman-era statues in styles attributed to Praxiteles, and some works of disputed authorship.

The last group includes works linked to Praxiteles’ family, “so visitors can learn about the art of sculpture in the 4th century BC and see a sample of Praxiteles’ technique,” explained Kaltsas. “They can also understand the difficulties of researching his work and style.”

The Greece of Praxiteles and Leonidas in two exhibitions July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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Opening in late July at the Athens National Archaeological Museum and the Sparta Olive Museum

hermes.jpg  This is the best surviving copy (AD 117-138) of the Marble Faun by Praxiteles (340-330 BC). The sculptor’s style was influential, inspiring many to emulate him.

Two exhibitions that have been on display abroad are coming to Greece. “Discover Praxiteles” comes from the Louvre in Paris, while from New York comes “Athens-Sparta: From the 8th Century to the 5th Century BC.” The former will be shown at the National Archaeological Museum. Among the works on display will be the famous Ephebe of Marathon, which caused such tension in Greek-French relations. The French had invested a lot in that statue, mainly in their advertising campaign for the tribute to Praxiteles. The statue was absent from their exhibition, disappointing Louvre officials, but it did create a lot of publicity. The Athens exhibition will be different, containing fewer exhibits.

The “Athens-Sparta” exhibition was originally shown at the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in New York, and will now go on display at the Museum of the Olive and Olive Oil in Sparta.

An artist’s ties with Hydra island July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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The newly established Christos Karas Foundation highlights the painter’s 50-year commitment to the island

In the area of Kaminia, a small harbor, just a 15-minute walk that winds from the main town of Hydra along the coast, a lovely stone house with large arcades at ground level stands on a small hill looking out at the sunset as it turns the sea golden.

Home to the painter Chistos Karas, it was built in the late 1980s by the very stones that were dug from the property. “It was like a flower that sprang from the earth of Hydra, from its land. When I realized this, I decided that this house should belong to the island. In this life, nothing really belongs to us anyway,” Christos Karas, a true gentleman now in his 70s, said.

Besides serving as the summer house for the artist and his family, the building will also be home to the newly established “Christos Karas Hydra” Foundation. The ground-floor area which is now the artist’s studio will be transformed into a gallery that will include works by Karas. 40 paintings currently comprise the Foundation’s collection. The artist would also like to include works by other artists of his generation: his close friends Costas Tsoclis, Thodoros and Pavlos are artists among this so-called Sixties Generation which is credited with establishing modernism in Greece. Apart from the “Museum,” the Foundation will also embrace various other artistic projects that will be held at venues on the island.

The Foundation’s establishment was announced during a two-day celebration on the island attended by hundreds of people and the Mayor of Hydra. The Mayor also announced his plans for a new gallery of contemporary art for the island and presented Karas with an honorary plaque. To mark the occasion, an exhibition on the work of Karas was presented at the Historic Archive Museum of Hydra.

The Foundation is a manifestation of the artist’s longstanding emotional ties with the island, his way of leaving his imprint on an island which, although not his birthplace, has been an important part of his life. Christos Karas first visited Hydra in 1948, at the invitation of the painter Pavlos Pantelakis who was soon to head the Hydra Department of the Athens School of Fine Arts, a branch which is still active.

Karas was one of the first artists to follow the summer courses at the Hydra branch. Ever since his days as a student at the School of Fine Arts in Athens in the early 1950s, he has spent practically every year on Hydra. Pantelakis as well as the subsequent Director of the school, Pericles Vyzantios, were his “teachers.”

Back then, Karas was part of a newly formed artistic community that gradually expanded to include international artists, many of whom acquired homes in Hydra. Karas soon left to study in Paris but when he came back in the mid-60s he suggested that the Hydra branch of the School of Fine Arts open its program to foreign artists. The contacts and friendships that would grow out of this would perhaps help Hydra acquire an important collection of contemporary art. Though the venture never materialized, Karas never really abandoned the idea.

Although the art collection of the Christos Karas Foundation only includes works by him, Karas hopes that other artist friends will donate works to be exhibited on the premises. He also hopes that this initiative might set an example for future, public donations. By organizing the exhibition of his work at a public, historical venue such as the island’s Historic Archive Museum, Karas reveals his intention to make the venture public and broadly known.

The paintings on view represent different periods in the artist’s work. They display the artist’s taste for bold, strong colors, a fiery red is one of his favorite hues, and surrealist-like imagery. Most are recent works.

Karas is a prolific painter whose career began with early figurative works, moved to collages in earthy tones during the years spent in Paris, most of his work from the time was destroyed, and soon developed into an abstract, expressionist style. In the early 1970s Karas spent a few years in New York, working in a surrealist-like style. This was also the period of his so-called magic realist paintings. Space-age themes and motifs taken from technology also came into his work.

Karas usually makes large paintings, using oil pigments rather than acrylics. The artist says that oil paint takes a long time to dry yet, unlike acrylic paint, their color does not change in the process. Karas builds his compositions using many different layers of paint, which is why his paintings may take several years to finish, a technique which makes color even more vivid. His work is a combination of figuration and abstraction. The human figure, flowers, warriors, the female body, pigeons and trees are among the recurring motifs. Karas says that he is interested in capturing contemporaneity, for example the feeling of isolation and the lack of communication which he feels has become a large part of our lives.

The 40 paintings at the Historic Archive Museum of Hydra are representative of his recognizable style. More of his work will be shown at the Karas Foundation in the near future.

Works by Christos Karas at the Historic Archive Museum of Hydra, in the port of Hydra, tel 22980 52355, through October 31.

Art flees the city for the countryside July 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Festivals.
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Nature, the environment and the Cycladic civilization are the themes that have inspired a string of exhibitions outside Athens this summer.

In Naxos, at the Bazaios Tower, the island’s annual summer festival is holding an exhibition, starting on July 21, of contemporary works by Ingbert Brunk. The German sculptor has drawn his material from the marble sculptures of the Cycladic civilization. At the same time, Ioannis Michaloudis is displaying his “futuristic air sculptures.” Using space technology called silica aerogel, which is 99 percent air and 1 percent glass, he creates forms representing those of Cycladic art, building a bridge between the distant past and the future.

An exhibition titled “Transmission/Show,” to be held at the Kardamyli Elementary School in Mani, is set in and inspired by the natural world. Starting on July 28, a group of 26 acclaimed artists of the generation of the 1970s and 80s, as well as younger artists, using a variety of artistic media such as painting, sculpture, photography, installation and video, have come together in order to help the “public rediscover the landscape of the city through the process of walking, as an interactive experience,” explains the show’s curator, Marina Lagou.

“The idea is to launch a debate on whether nature is not just the subject and recipient of art, but also, to an equal degree, an art space in and of itself, how far it becomes incorporated into and becomes a part of the art displayed within it… The exhibition attempts to transform the entire city into an art gallery and to illustrate how the boundaries between the public and the private sphere are formed when an event spreads out into the environment.”

A veteran sculptor and avid nature lover, Giorgos Kypris will be showing his work at the Iliotopos Hotel in the town of Imerovigli on Santorini, starting on July 29. From 1993 to the present, all of Kypris’s work has made reference to fish. In the first series of work he did on this theme, the artist attempted to show the cruel and often inexplicable behavior of man toward different life forms by focusing on fish as victims of man. The observations he made over many hours of scuba diving in the waters of Santorini have led to a new series of works titled “Migration.”

On a different theme back on the mainland, in the town of Agria in Volos, the N. &E. Porfirogeni Foundation is hosting an exhibition of works by Alexandros Psychoulis, running until August 31. Installations, interactive works, video, flash animation and paintings, dating from various periods of this acclaimed Greek artist’s activity, come together to offer a new reading into his opus.

Psychoulis was born in Volos in 1966. He studied graphic arts at the Athens Technical College and art at the Athens School of Fine Arts. In 1997 he was part of the group of artists to represent Greece at the 47th Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the Benesse Prize for his piece “Black Box.” Psychoulis creates interactive installations that are activated by the viewer and allow them to explore their subconscious, by encoding into sounds and images personal fears, desires and memories. The artist lives and works in Athens.

Running in parallel to the exhibition, up until July 17, the town is also playing host to a workshop and an international performance festival, held at the old storage facilities of the State Tobacco Company, a modern building constructed in the heart of Volos in 1960 and then abandoned in 1990.

All the performances are based on a Psychoulis’s concepts and the artists participating are Maria Papadimitriou, Evi Manidaki, Maria Hadzinikolaou, Zisis Kotionis, Nikos Platsas and the groups Radar and Poetsinsiesta.