A tribute to Constantinos Parthenis

Constantinos Parthenis is considered to be one of the pioneers of a modern style in the Greek art of the early part of the 20th century. His art, a blend of European symbolism and art nouveau with influences from Byzantine art and Greek antiquity, was a radical break from the academic style of the so-called School of Munich which prevailed in both the art and artistic training in Greece. Constantinos Parthenis helped change this conservative artistic mood both through his work as an artist and his position as professor at the School of Fine Arts which he acquired in 1929. In spite of the significance of this artist, there has been no large, retrospective exhibition held on his work. Besides an exhibition held in Vienna in 1995 and in Thessaloniki two decades ago, there has been no other presentation of his work. A mini-retrospective on his work organized by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) and held at their recently renovated offices in the center of Athens, is an attempt to fill in this gap. (In the past SEV has also organized exhibitions on Yiannis Spyropoulos and Alexis Akrithakis.) An interesting aspect of the exhibition which is curated by art adviser and art historian Dimitris Palaiokrassas, is that it puts on view previously unseen works, most of them belonging to private art collections. Twenty-six paintings in total take the viewer through the course of Parthenis’s work from his early years that he spent in Vienna until the mid-’60s, when he passed away. Constantinos Parthenis was born in Alexandria, moved to Rome and Vienna during his youth and settled in Athens in 1917. Knowledgeable of the innovative trends in European art, he used them in his art together with a particular sensitivity toward Greece’s cultural past. Typical of his art is the use of pastel colors and thin contours as well as broad subject matter that ranges from portraiture, landscape, still life and allegorical scenes. The exhibition on Parthenis is the beginning of a series of annual exhibitions that SEV will organize on Greek art. The exhibition is on display at the Federation of Greek Industries (5 Xenofontos, Syntagma) from 12-6 p.m. today and on June 23, 25, 28 and 29.