By Nikos Vatopoulos
An initiative was launched last month aimed at restoring vandalized sculptures in central Athens. The program is expected to run until the second week of September and involves the restoration of bronze sculptures including those facing Othonos and Georgiou A streets on Syntagma Square.
An Alpha Bank initiative that is also aimed at boosting the capital’s confidence, the project covers four different parts of the city center. The restorations will include the statue of General Theodoros Kolokotronis on horseback outside the Old Parliament, which was unveiled in 1954. Its marble base – considered impressive from an artistic standpoint – has frequently been targeted by vandals.
The project began in Syntagma with in situ restorations of the square’s bronze sculptures. Many might remember the sculpture of a little deer right next to the metro exit facing Othonos Street which was vandalized and covered in yellow dots. Those marks have now been removed.
The toughest task has been repairing the sculptures’ marble bases, many of which date back to the 19th century. Several sculptures are in fact copies which were put on display over a decade ago.
According to the curator of Alpha Bank’s private art collection, Eirini Orati, many of the decorative motifs on the bases’ perimeters have been removed. Work on such details, which requires painstaking attention, will likely be carried out in special workshops.
Alpha Bank’s mission is to restore at least a part of Syntagma’s extensively damaged sculptures in order to rectify its image following numerous protests in recent years which have often degenerated into violence and destruction.
Once the above restorations have been carried out, attention will turn to the statues around the Cultural Center of Athens on Academias Street.
Although the busts of writer Nikos Kazantzakis and El Greco have been stolen, there still remain plenty of heavily damaged artworks which will benefit from this project.