There are some painters who have the gift of being able to address many different themes over the course of their careers. Able to balance perfectly between the figure and space, Pavlos Samios is one such artist. When focusing on the human figure, he somehow imbues it with a sense of the space that surrounds it, while his interiors have the vibrancy of an inhabited space even when devoid of a human presence.
His education has likely contributed to this ease: He apprenticed as an icon painter at a young age, and later, under the tutelage of Nikos Nikolaou and Yiannis Moralis, learned to delve into the history of art and draw inspiration from the great masters.
The Skoufa Gallery in the downtown Athens district of Kolonaki recently unveiled Samios’ latest solo show. Titled “Café Paradise,” it is essentially a fresh take on a subject that the painter and Athens School of Fine Arts professor had become immersed in back in the 1980s, when he was living in Paris. His first series of work inspired by the French capital’s café culture was, in fact, presented at the gallery of Samy Kinge, for years the right-hand man of the acclaimed Greek collector and gallerist Alexandre Iolas.
The reason why the artist chose to include the word “paradise” in the Athens show’s title was to illustrate the soothing effect of the café atmosphere on the human spirit. The theme of the café as a meeting place, a place that gives comfort and a sense of connection, where political and other differences are settled, has gained new relevance in these times of social distancing.
“Café Paradise” comprises two sections, depicting cafés in Paris and Greece, and is inspired by a coffee shop of the same name that was located near his studio in Attiki Square up until about a decade ago. “It was the hangout of a neighborhood that had all sorts of people: homemakers, old men, pimps – people who may have had nothing in common ‘out there’ but became a community in there. The old man who ran it died and now it’s been replaced with a pharmacy,” says Samios. “I have gotten so much from cafés that I wanted to give them eternal life.”
The exhibition, which makes the viewer feel a part of just such a community of people, sitting comfortably at a table, runs through October 17.
Skoufa Gallery, 4 Skoufa, Kolonaki, tel 210.364.3025, www.skoufagallery.gr