British artist cultivates a garden of colorful happiness in Greece

Vibrant colors – on the streets, in pots of flowers and solitary trees – are fueling the latest creative effort by Nicholas Moore, a British artist living in Greece. Moore’s new exhibition, which runs to June 11 at the Martinos gallery in Kolonaki, adopts as a motto the last words spoken by Candide in the homonymous 1759 play by Voltaire: «Let us cultivate our garden.» «I’m living on a Greek island in what used to be a farm, surrounded by a garden,» Moore says. «I suppose one has to work at happiness. It doesn’t just come.» At the Martinos gallery, Moore demonstrates just how hard he works in search of happiness by presenting his latest crop of works, all produced in the last four years. His most recent works are images from the streets of Athens, a city in motion, undergoing cultural changes. «Nick is an urban creature, a ‘townie,’ who now lives in ‘the sticks’. He is nostalgic now and then for life in the big city where he lived most of his life,» writes journalist Giorgos Yemenakis in the exhibition catalog’s preface. Moore paints moments in the life of a city’s newfound multiculturalism: a greengrocer and rubber stamp maker on Evripidou and Athinas, the Babul Hair Cutting Barber on Evripidou, an outdoor vendor selling Christmas decorations on Praxitelous. «Athenian streets remind me of Soho, in London, where I grew up,» Moore says. «There is an ethnic mix combined with an old fashion feel.» There are also flashes from moments lived in other places: After a three-month stint in the United States, for instance, Moore’s brush creates an image from San Francisco’s Chinatown. And then, of course, there’s Syros, where the artist displays a particular attraction for the island’s Neorion shipyards. Situated at the tip of the island’s capital, the industrialized area carries a long history and comes as a stark contrast to Ermoupolis’s neoclassical manner. The «townie» then takes a long look at nature: flowers, water-lilies, trees and landscapes. Born in London in 1958, Moore earned a degree in zoology and took etching courses at the Colchester Technical College and Heatherly’s School of Art. Greek mythology was a constant companion in Moore’s upbringing along with the adventures of Gerald Durell on the island of Corfu. This combination led the young sixth-former to an Inter Rail vacation in 1976 with Greece being the trip’s furthest destination. Once in Greece, he promptly sent a postcard back home announcing to his family that he was planning to make the country his new home. He kept his word – eventually. In 1982, Moore moved to Hania, Crete, and began working alongside celebrated British artist John Craxton. He moved back to London in 1991, yet kept a studio in Greece. Six years later he was once again in between the two countries, dividing time between London and Syros. In 2001 he decided to move to the island. Over the years, the artist has exhibited works in various solo shows and group exhibitions both in Britain and Greece. Cultivating his own glorious garden on Syros, Moore appears to have reached a good moment in his life. «I have never found living in Greece difficult, besides missing friends and family at times,» the artist says. «Besides, Greeks are extremely forgiving with bad Greek. I feel at home here.» Martinos, 24 Pindarou, Kolonaki, tel 210.360.9449.

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