“He was always happy when he was painting and standing like a bird in front of the easel,” Harikleia Mytara once told me of her husband’s love for his art. Our conversation took place a few days before his death at the age of 83 in February 2017, after years of suffering from multiple ailments.
Dimitris Mytaras has left us with an incredible body of work, which speaks of his charisma, his profound instinct for art and his love for the human figure. He was focused on the human being both as a man and as an artist, putting existence on the highest pedestal.
This summer, the Basil and Elise Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art on the Cycladic island of Andros will be hosting a tribute to this very important Greek artist. It is an homage comprising dozens of works that cover all the different phases of his career, shed light on little-known chapters of his life and testify to his mastery in drawing and coloring.
The retrospective opens on July 1. Museum director Kyriakos Koutsomalis, a perfectionist, likes to build narratives that offer insight into the true personality of the artist. Now, after shows on greats like Yiannis Moralis, Panayiotis Tetsis, Sophia Vari and George Zongolopoulos, it is now Mytaras’s turn to be showcased by the museum.
Other than an accomplished painter, Mytaras was also a poet, a talented set and costume designer, an illustrator and decorator, and an excellent teacher. The aim of the tribute is to underscore the wealth of his subject matter and the variety of styles and techniques he employed in every facet of his formidable talent.
The exhibition starts with Mytaras’s earliest work, which stands out for its maturity despite the artist’s youth. It then turns to two themes that engaged the artist from 1960 up to his death: mirrors and portraits. The 1967-74 military dictatorship played a pivotal role and changed the direction of Mytaras’s work, prompting him to use color as a condemnation of the regime. Violence dominates a lot of his work after that period too, especially in his paintings with the motorcycle, the accidents and landscapes distorted by man. A series of female figures feature in the tribute, but there is also a surprising section on stray dogs, to which the artist dedicated a number of canvases.
The show will run from July 1 to September 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (tel 22820.224.44, www.moca-andros.gr) in the main town of Andros (Mondays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. & 6-9 p.m.). Admission costs 5 euros.