It’s not the finality of death that counts, but the power of memory – in other words, how you are remembered. Leonardo Cremonini (1925-2010) had the posthumous honor to be remembered by his Greek students with deep affection. This is because he added a determining brush stroke to their hearts as they stood facing the bare canvas on their easels.
In the 1980s, at the celebrated School of Fine Arts in Paris, the persistent Italian nurtured a generation of artists with the stamina to support what they believed in and what they could do best – paint.
At the opening of a retrospective exhibition organized by Alexis Veroukas, a former student of the Bologna-born artist, at the Historical Archives – Museum of Hydra, the prevailing sense was that everything was put together exactly the way Cremonini would have wanted. The show, titled “The Insolence of the Sun,” features works by the late Italian artist currently owned by Greek collectors.
At the Hydra museum, oils and engravings bring back a world of images which has not been forgotten in Greece, because inherently, albeit invisibly, it also exists in the work of Cremonini’s students: Giorgos Rorris, Maria Filopoulou, Edouardos Sakayan, Anna Maria Tsakali, Stefanos Daskalakis and Irini Iliopoulou.
“Thank you for resurrecting Leonardo through the beauty of Hydra,” was the message of the artist’s wife, Roberta, who was unable to attend the opening due to health reasons.
His son, Pietro, visibly moved, could not believe that a tribute to his father was put together from scratch in such a short time.
“He was the person who taught me to see and I think he gave the same gift to this students. We miss his generosity,” he commented on the opening night.
“I think that if he were here he would ask us if we continued to work with the same intensity we had in our student days and, alas, if we felt that our passion had subsided,” added Veroukas.
“It’s extremely moving talking about Cremonini here, among his works. What springs to mind is everything he taught us, a passion for painting, a great appetite for life, the way in which you immerse yourself in your private universe and work with your paintbrushes,” said Filopoulou.
“The paintings on display here are his cells, still alive, the spirit of his work which he passed onto to us too,” added Tsakali.
The exhibition features more than 30 works, while dozens of people who knew the artist made the trip to Hydra to honor his memory. The show’s opening also inspired a series of events which took place over a three-day period, celebrating Greek-Italian ties on the Saronic Gulf island, including film screenings and Italian dishes at local restaurants.
Speaking at the opening were Italian Ambassador to Greece Efisio Luigi Marras, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas, National Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka and the Hydra museum’s director Dina Adamopoulou. The island’s municipal band performed works by Nicola Piovani and Nino Rota.
Cremonini had visited Hydra and fallen in love with the island’s natural beauty as it reminded him of Italy’s southern landscapes which had inspired him.
The exhibition runs through October but could be extended through November.