By Margarita Pournara
Sophia Vari never fails to make an impact with her audience. Elegant, aristocratic and completely lacking in vanity, the acclaimed 73-year-old globetrotting Greek artist, who is married to celebrated Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero, has already presented work at galleries and museums all around the world, and this summer will show a large selection of works at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation Museum of Modern Art on the Cycladic island of Andros from June 29 to September 28.
At the press conference for the exhibition, Vari spoke of the homeland that she left at such a young age, her famous husband and her close personal friendship with Basil and Elize Goulandris.
Her greatest concern?
“I pray that it doesn’t rain on opening night. I want all the guests who come from abroad to see Andros as the most beautiful place in the world and to leave Greece with a feeling of its wonderful landscapes,” she said.
“I am and I feel Greek from top to toe. This is my homeland, my blood,” says the artist who spent her childhood in Switzerland, several years studying in the UK and later in Paris, and now divides her time between New York, Monaco and Tuscany. She also said that she has chosen to display a number of pieces sculpted from marble because she believes that they express the harmony and balance of Greek nature.
Other than sculptures, the exhibition will also include drawings, watercolors, oil paintings, bas-reliefs and collages in a bid to reintroduce the Greek public to the artist, one of whose pieces graces Kotzia Square in front of City Hall in central Athens.
If anything, Vari’s work reveals that she does not shy away from a challenge – her husband being one of her harshest critics.
“One day he came into my studio and saw a model I had just cast in fresh clay. He accused me of taking the easy route. He got angry, picked up a knife and hacked it down the middle. He was always strict but he taught me to work ceaselessly, to perfect my technique and to always give my best,” she said of Botero.
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation Museum of Modern Art is located in the main town, Hora, on Andros (tel 22820.22444, www.goulandris.gr). The exhibition’s official opening will take place on June 29. Visiting hours from June 30 are Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.