Yiannis Mitarakis, a largely unknown artist, gets overdue retrospective at the Benaki

Yiannis Mitarakis belongs to a category of artists whose work, though noteworthy, remains largely unknown. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1897, Mitarakis grew up on the Greek island of Chios. He subsequently studied in Paris, where he immersed himself in the city’s cultural life. A series of financial difficulties, however, forced him to return to Greece. The artist died in 1963, before the establishment of the National Gallery and belongs to a group of artists who are slowly emerging from obscurity, even though their contribution to the development of contemporary Greek art remains undisputed. This is the kind of artistic gap that an exhibition at the new wing of the Benaki Museum on Pireos Street attempts to bridge. The majority of the 85 works on display (mostly oil paintings and sketches) are now part of the Benaki Museum’s permanent collection, after being generously donated by the artist’s son, Pavlos Mitarakis. At the Benaki, the retrospective exhibition traces the artist’s steps from his first years in Paris years until his final artistic period, during which Mitarakis turned toward abstraction. Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos & Andronikou, tel 210.345.3111. The exhibition runs to November 5.