A window on the life of a late artist

In 1969, the talented, then 19-year-old Antonis Vezirtzis moved from Zakynthos to Athens, where he became an assistant to a religious icon painter and a student of drawing. A few years later, he entered the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he studied sculpture under Yiannis Pappas. He also became an assistant to the sculptor Takis. When he turned 31 years old, Vezirtzis committed suicide. Both his life and work came to an abrupt end. Seventeen years since, there are only a few people who recognize the name and work of Antonis Vezirtzis. Thanks to an exhibition that opened recently at the Benaki Museum, more people will now learn about the work of this Greek sculptor. The 60 works that have been selected for the exhibition are being shown in the temporary exhibition hall on the second floor of the Benaki Museum’s main building on Koumbari Street. The works are presented in four distinct groups, those of the drawings, small sculptures, the «boat series» and the abstract landscapes. According to Costas Papachristou, curator of the exhibition, the particular drawings «offer the best clue to understanding the work and personality of Vezirtzis.» The recurring spiraling motifs and the attention to the play of shadow that are typical of his drawings find their way into the plastic forms of his sculptures. The spiraling forms are to be found in his small sculptures and in his abstract landscapes, which are perhaps the most interesting sculptures in the exhibition. It was the artist himself that named those works «abstract landscapes.» They resemble boxes filled with abstract shapes. They look like caves encased in a plaster frame. There is a play with depth, light and space. Toward the end of his life, Vezirtzis started working with iron and used discarded iron utensils that he turned into objets trouves, his metal boat series. Seen together with the rest of the sculptures, they help the viewer gain an understanding of the work of an artist who left life at an early age. «Antonis Vezirtzis 1950-1981» at the Benaki Museum’s central building (1 Koumbari, Kolonaki, 210.367.1006) through May 25.