New institute for painting and music

A longing shared by art collector and businessman Basil Theocharakis and his wife Marina has just been realized. For years now, the couple envisioned an interdisciplinary cultural center for the arts. The Basil and Marina Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music, which will be officially inaugurated next week but has already opened to the public with a series of activities, is a five-story privately owned cultural center with an emphasis on music, the visual arts and their connection. Located at the corner of Vassilissis Sofias and Merlin streets, a step away from the Parliament and the National Garden, it is housed in a renovated, listed building that was designed during the late 1920s by Vassilis Tsagris in the eclectic style (architects P. Tzonos – G. Hoippel redesigned the interior and architect Dimitris Agiostratitis refurbished the exterior). The building’s architectural style – elegant and with the air of a private residence – and its position on one of the city’s most chic boulevards were decisive in making Basil and Marina Theocharakis decide to go ahead with their plans. They both wanted a cultural center in the heart of Athens that would be accessible to the public and would also contribute to the city’s cultural life. The foundation opens to the public with a large exhibition on distinguished painter Spyros Papaloukas (1892-1957), one of the first to bring the modern style into Greek painting. Basil Theocharakis, who is also a painter, was a pupil of Papaloukas and thought of this exhibition as a tribute to his teacher’s work, an expression of his admiration for his talent. The majority of the 260 works that are on display are a donation made by the late Mina Papalouka, daughter of the artist, to the B&M Theocharakis Foundation last year. It is a substantial body of work that offers a comprehensive understanding of the artist’s view and can be enjoyed in its entirety at the newly established foundation. Structured in chronological order, the exhibition includes mostly landscapes, for which Papaloukas is chiefly known. The works show the artist’s mastery in the choice of color and its use to build volume and depict light. An extensive catalog has been published on the occasion. Takis Mavrotas, the exhibition’s curator, is also in charge of the foundation’s visual arts program. This includes future exhibitions on modern and contemporary Greek art (the next exhibition, to be curated by Charis Kambouridis, is on Greek 19th and 20th century landscape painting) and collaborations with local and international institutions. Also scheduled is a series of seminars – to be given by art historian Anna Hatzinasiou – on 20th century modern art. Other seminars and lectures focus on philosophy: Stelios Ramfos has already begun a series of seminars. The team behind Cogito magazine has prepared a series of lectures on aesthetics. Weekly children’s educational programs (by Katerina Zacharopoulou) on the visual arts are another activity. The foundation also plans to do research work. It is organizing a digital database on modern Greek art which will be available for researchers and the public. Its principal objective, however, is to build an interdisciplinary understanding of the arts. For December 13 and 14 a concert featuring the Brussels Piano Trio (Thanos Adamopoulos as chief violinist) will present a repertory from French 1920s music (pieces by Gabriel Faure, Camille St Saens and Maurice Ravel) which is the period when Spyros Papaloukas lived in Paris. Christos Karras, who is also director of the foundation, is in charge of the foundation’s music program that focuses on chamber music. This is partly because of the small stage of the foundation’s theater. Among the artists who will give recitals at the foundation’s theater are Sonia Theodoridou, Yiannis Vakarelis and the baroque ensemble Red Priest. Besides classical music, the program includes traditional music and songs from the Mediterranean – Constantinople & Francoise Atlan will appear in January – as well as jazz, with Louis Sclavis one of the invited artists. Featuring a diverse program, this newly established cultural center promises to enrich the city’s cultural life and bring a different, interdisciplinary aspect to the arts. A well-designed establishment, it is also an expression of private initiative in a public, cultural cause. The Basil and Marina Theocharakis Foundation for the Visual Arts and Music (9 Vassilissis Sofias & 1 Merlin, 210.361.1206, The Spyros Papaloukas exhibition will be open to April 20.