Artist’s bond with island of Sifnos

There was a surprise for artist Panayiotis Tetsis at the opening of his exhibition of Sifnos landscapes, which took place last Saturday in the island village of Kastro’s old school. In the presence of his friends and students as well as locals, he was named an honorary citizen of Sifnos. It was a small but clear gesture of gratitude from the local authorities for all that the artist has lovingly offered all these years. With his brushstrokes, Tetsis has captured the island’s churches, houses, plants and the relentless afternoon sun. The initiative to organize exhibitions in Kastro, which began last year with a display of sculptures by Alex Mylona, belongs to energetic local Olga Karatza, who has known Tetsis for many decades. Fourteen Sifnos-themed works by Tetsis – oil paintings as well as his trademark black and white works which are considered among the highlights of his career – are on display on the white walls of the old school. Moved by the honor bestowed on him, the Hydra-based artist spoke to Kathimerini about his special relationship with Sifnos, which goes back to 1968. Changes with time «I wanted to go to Patmos but there was no convenient boat, back then it wasn’t like today. So I decided to visit Sifnos,» he said. He remembered that at a time when coastal routes were not particularly developed, he had managed to take his car to Sifnos with a caique. Forty years have since passed, but he has not stopped visiting the Cycladic islands and seeing his favorite landscapes change with time. New settlements are springing up, tourists are coming and the natural environment is deteriorating. «We can’t go back,» he pointed out. «But we have to be very careful about how we move forward. We have to protect our place.» As always, Tetsis was wise, tender and to the point. The exhibition will run to August 31.