Until recently, the Greek Parliament resembled «a parking lot,» according to Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis who held a press conference yesterday presenting a new initiative to embellish the building’s interior. «We want to decorate Parliament’s halls,» he said the day before the official opening by President Costis Stephanopoulos of a 100-piece-strong exhibition of Parliament’s new acquisitions of artworks. The collection mostly comprises works by Greek artists who represent a panorama of modern Greek art, though it also contains selected works by foreign artists on Greek themes. The Parliament’s collection of artwork began in 1995 through an initiative by Kaklamanis who set up a committee of art and culture headed by prolific Greek artist Panayiotis Tetsis, chaired by leading curators and directors of the country’s museums and galleries, and funded by Parliament. According to Tetsis, the criteria for selecting works of art – purchased at auctions both in Greece and abroad – was aesthetic rather than thematic. The collection thus comprises historical works, such as those of battles or generals and politicians, as well as paintings of simple beauty, such as Nikolaos Gyzis’s «Rose.» Representing all the phases and trends of modern Greek art, the Parliament collection also contains works by current artists who were commissioned to paint the portraits of important historical figures such as Dionysis Solomos (painted by Dimitris Mytaras) and Eleftherios Venizelos (painted by Giorgos Rorris). Among others, artists whose works are included in the collection are Vryzakis, Volanakis, Maleas, Parthenis, Tsarouchis and Hadzikyriakos-Ghika. The exhibition, which opens this evening at 6.30 p.m., will showcase, among other works, impressive new acquisitions. Finally, a building as «beleaguered as the House of Parliament, which started off as mansion, was damaged by fire and housed refugees and now is decorated with… a few works of art on loan from the Byzantine Museum and the National Gallery, is starting to gain a new position,» said Tetsis. The exhibition in the Parliament building foyer will run until late February and is open to the public from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekends and school holidays.