Painter and poet honored

The multifaceted work of Greek surrealist painter and poet Nikos Engonopoulos attracted speakers from many disciplines to a conference last week at the Benaki Museum. Some traced influences on his work. Dr David Ricks of King’s College London’s school of Byzantine and modern Greek studies looked at Engonopoulos in reference to the work of Walt Whitman, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. Niki Loizidi from the Athens School of Fine Arts showed how Engonopoulos used humor to subvert excessive patriotism. Painter Sotiris Sorongas looked at the painter’s use of tradition, as judged from the practical viewpoint of a working artist. David Connolly, associate professor of translation studies at Aristotle University, addressed Engonopoulos directly, asking how to make the poet’s voice heard without the translator’s voice intruding. A large crowd, many of them students, followed the proceedings, proving yet again what an appetite there is for in-depth exploration of the arts. Discussion spilled over into breaks and, of course, into the exhibition of the artist’s paintings and poems which continues at the museum till January 20. The conference was held by the National Book Center of Greece and the Benaki Museum.