Jean Cocteau: An artist’s love for Greek past

Greece is currently celebrating a multifaceted personality whose wide-ranging body of work drew much inspiration from this country and its past. Jean Cocteau, the French artist who cut across artistic boundaries to write, direct and act, among other activities, is the subject of a tribute that includes an exhibition, film screenings, lectures and plays. «Jean Cocteau and Greece» opened at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos St wing yesterday and runs to July 29. At the museum, Cocteau is celebrated through his own work as well as that of his renowned friends. Besides his own writings, for instance, the show presents Cocteau’s sketches and drawings, ceramics and paintings. The artist is also seen through the eyes of Pablo Picasso, Moise Kisling, Man Ray and Bernard Buffet, among others. Also part of the tribute at the Benaki is «Human Voices,» three one-act Cocteau plays to be presented at the museum on May 29 and 30 and June 5 and 6. The production, directed by Stamatis Fassoulis, stars Pemi Zouni and Christoforos Papakialatis as well as Thalis Triantafylou on the piano. Under the aegis of the French Embassy, both the exhibition and the theater production are sponsored by the Focus on Hope – Nana Mouskouri Foundation with the support of Emporiki Bank. On screen Meanwhile, the French Institute in Athens is also dedicating part of its May activities to Cocteau. Events include Cine-club screenings of the artist’s films on Wednesdays. Still to come on the cinematic front is «Orphee» (starring Jean Marais, Maria Casares and Marie Dea) on May 23 and «Le Testament d’Orphee» (feeaturing Cocteau) on May 30. The Cocteau tribute continues with two lectures: Carole Weisweiller will deliver a lecture, «I Called Him Mr Cocteau» on Monday in the French Institute’s Auditorium, while Yiannis Kontaxopoulos will discuss «Jean Cocteau’s Secret Greece» on Tuesday at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos St annex. Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos & Andronikou, Gazi, tel 210.345.3111-3. French Institute, 31 Sina, Kolonaki, tel 210.339.8600.