CULTURE

Revisiting Hydra with Panayiotis Tetsis

According to the French Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix, the first virtue of a painting is that it be a feast for the eyes. This quality features prominently in the work of Greek artist Panayiotis Tetsis.

His artworks are defined by the same kind of generosity displayed by the artist himself. Tetsis is an islander, born and raised on Hydra, a place seemingly untouched by time.

A new exhibition featuring works by the artist – who turns 90 this year – is opening on May 6 at the B&M Theocharakis Foundation after a brief postponement, running through September 13. Dedicated to the native, the show is curated by Takis Mavrotas.

What is deeply moving in the case of Tetsis is an unrelenting energy that urges him to work for long hours under the hot Aegean sun or dash up the trees next to his home on Hydra to collect lemons for the kitchen.

He displays the same vitality when he uses his paintbrushes, transforming them into a stream of love that connects everything he holds dear: friends and places, the trees and the sea. It is precisely this pure, honest relationship between the artist and his subject matter that also moves audiences.

As it turns out, the artist’s most refreshing collection of paintings to date was executed between 2010 and 2014. Comprising the upcoming exhibition’s backbone, the works are conscious images of his beloved island, defined by the artist’s glorious color palette. Also going on display at the Theocharakis Foundation are black and white landscapes in diptychs and triptychs drawn with Indian ink, a technique he first used in a series of works depicting the Cycladic island of Sifnos.

“I think of the Greek landscape, which always warms my heart and inspires me. I try to visit Hydra in the winter when the island is empty, the sea colors are gorgeous and the people are very calm. There are no socialites in view. When I’m in Athens I meet up with dear friends and talk about things that give me energy,” noted the artist in a previously interview published in Kathimerini. “If we are to stand on our feet, if we are to work and hope, we all need to find something to hold on to.”

Tetsis’s dedication to the simple and substantial things in life is his dominant facet and the same is true of his work. When gazing at his landscapes, you also embark on a mental journey from the port of Piraeus to the Saronic island of Hydra. And there is tremendous energy when you recognize, just like him, the gifts of life through the gift of art.

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B&M Theocharakis Foundation, 9 Vassilissis Sofias & 1 Merlin, tel 210.361.1206, www.thf.gr