‘The Itinerary of a Collector’ opens in Hania

When Costas Ioannidis began collecting Greek art, he was just 17 years old. A young tailor back then, he’d gone to Paris to perfect his trade. He studied fashion design and worked for couturiers such as Pierre Cardin. This was in the mid-1950s, a time when many Greek artists were studying or living in Paris, and it was the city that Ioannidis was to make his home for the next 30 years. He developed strong friendships with members of the expatriate Greek artistic community, including artists Yiannis Gaitis, Alekos Fassianos and Alkis Pierrakos. His artist friends made it possible for him to continue his penchant for collecting. By the time he returned to Greece, Ioannidis had amassed a substantial body of works of Greek art from the classics of the late 19th century (for example works by Giorgos Iakovidis or Theodoros Rallis) to the art of the 1960s generation. He continued to be interested in art, expanding his collection of paintings to include younger artists, his purpose being to create a representative image of the course of 20th century Greek painting. Now nearing 70 years old, Ioannidis has stopped collecting art. Yet his vision of making art as accessible as possible to more people and his belief in the value of decentralizing the artistic scene continues just as strong. «Greek Painting of the 20th century from the Collection of Costas Ioannidis – The Itinerary of a Collector,» is an exhibition that includes 120 works from his collection and has just opened at the Municipal Art Gallery of Hania in Crete, reflecting that vision. The exhibition takes the Ioannidis collection – a life’s work, as he likes to call it – to yet another stop in the Greek countryside. The collector has chosen to never show his collection in Athens. The first public exhibition was in Karditsa in 1991, at a time when the city had no cultural venue. Fourteen years ago, he became director of the Cyclades Gallery in Ermoupolis, on Syros, where he has organized exhibitions on Greek art (this year it was on the work of Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas), thus bringing his vision of bringing art to the nation’s regions closer to reality. The exhibition in Hania is curated by the curator at the National Gallery, Olga Metzafou-Polyzou, who has also edited a large album published on the occasion. The exhibition has been organized with the support of the Municipality of Hania. Some of the most established names in Greek art: Constantinos Maleas, Periklis Vyzantios, Giorgos Bouzianis, Alekos Kontopoulos, Yiannis Spyropoulos, Spyros Vassileiou and Yiannis Tsarouchis are among them. The exhibition is intended to reflect the breadth of the collection. A collection that was created in the course of 50 years by a man driven by his passion for art. At the Municipal Art Gallery of Hania (98-102 Halidon, 28210.92294) through November 30.