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Greek modern art in Beijing October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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The Asian capital welcomes an exhibition highlighting the artists’ relationship with their ancient legacy > Nikos Engonopoulos’s 1957 ‘Orpheus’ is one of the exhibits.

Just 10 months before the Olympic Games kick off in Beijing, a modern art exhibition in the Asian capital will highlight the relationship between Greek artists and antiquity. As the Cultural Year of Greece in China is already under way, with its official opening scheduled to take place this week, Greek Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis will inaugurate “Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art” at the Capital Museum of China tomorrow. The exhibition will run to November 16, before traveling to Greece where it will go on display in early December.

The exhibition was first showcased at the Onassis Cultural Center of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in New York in 2001, though on a smaller scale. The foundation took the initiative to support the current project, which is jointly organized by the Greek National Gallery and the Ministry of Culture. Works by a variety of contemporary Greek artists, from the so-called 1930s generation to the present, will demonstrate the different ways in which antiquity has influenced modern Greek creation.

“This exhibition is very appropriate, since both Greece and China have two of the most important ancient legacies,” said Marina Lambraki-Plaka, Director of the National Gallery, at a press conference on Monday. She explained that the dialogue between Greek artists and antiquity did not come about easily and was in essence started by artist Constantinos Parthenis after WWI, at a time when all of Europe was getting reaquainted with its local traditions. “Younger generations experience their legacy as a debt and the dialogue between Greek artists and our ancient legacy started very late. This exhibition is highly indicative of what has been happening in Greece from the 1920s to today. At the same time, it demonstrates the complex dialogue between modern Greek artists and antiquity.”

“Greece is based on its past but lives in the present, although unfortunately the latter is not very well known. This display will show that Greece has a presence today and that it produces important art,” said Anthony S. Papadimitriou, President of the Foundation.

Participating artists include members of the groundbreaking “1930s generation” movement, which revolutionized Greek visual arts and literature, as well as more recent artists. All have been inspired not only by what is perceived as the classic stereotypes of antiquity, but also by Byzantium and Greek folk culture and have depicted their experiences in a variety of forms. There are paintings by the man who had a decisive influence, both through his work and his teaching, on the development of 20th century Greek art, Constantinos Parthenis (1878-1967), by prominent surrealist artist and poet Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) and cubist Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas among others. More contemporary artists include Yiannis Psychopedis, Alekos Fassianos and Christos Bokoros.

Besides the aforementioned artists, “Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art” will also feature paintings and sculpture by Ioannis Avramidis, Christos Caras, Tassos Christakis, Ilias Dekoulakos, Achilleas Droungas, Georgios Gounaropoulos, Christos Kapralos, Sarantis Karavouzis, Giorgos Lazongas, Michalis Manoussakis, Giorgos Mavroidis, Yannis Moralis, Dimitris Mytaras, Nikos Nikolaou, Angelos Papadimitriou, Dimitris Perdikidis, Paris Prekas, Sotiris Sorongas, Panayiotis Tanimanidis, Panayiotis Tetsis, Thodoros, Yiannis Tsarouchis and Spyros Vassileiou.

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