CULTURE

A tribute to Yannis Tsarouchis

It is undoubtedly the major visual arts event of the year that is being ushered out as well as of that coming in: Two floors of the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex are currently hosting the first, large-scale retrospective on Yannis Tsarouchis, celebrating 100 years since the artist’s birth on January 13, 1910, in Piraeus. Niki Grypari, the show’s curator, and Lily Pezanou, who designed the display, invite visitors on a guided tour of Tsarouchis’s life through his works, whether paintings or set designs. On display are some 670 Tsarouchis paintings, while the museum’s first floor showcases his designs for dozens of Greek theater productions. The exhibition’s organizers contacted museums and collectors in Greece and abroad in order to present the most complete picture of Tsarouchis’s creative career – «Yannis Tsarouchis 1910-1989» ranges from paintings and illustrations to set designs and costumes. Collaborating with the Benaki Museum on the retrospective are the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation and the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation. Visitors to the Benaki will trace the artist’s early influences (from Byzantine hagiography and artist Photios Kontoglou to the traditional art of painting that Tsarouchis was taught by Konstantinos Parthenis), the artist’s singular style and the depiction of two different worlds, that of the East and West. Tsarouchis sought two major things throughout his life – on the one hand, to assimilate the ancient Greek ideal as expressed by the Renaissance and the Baroque movements, while at the same time expressing his objections to this same ideal. The result of this constant conflict is demonstrated throughout the artist’s varied body of work, where, in a most telling way, Tsarouchis portrayed the division of the people living in this country as well as the influences on their aesthetic expression and perception. This major retrospective is accompanied by a 400-page catalog titled «Yannis Tsarouchis 1910-1989.» In addition to the images of his multifaceted oeuvre, texts by Angelos Delivorias, Niki Grypari, Evgenios Matthiopoulos, Alekos Levidis, Panagis Vourloumis, Elga Kavvadia and Chloe Obolensky describe Tsarouchis, the man, the thinker and the artist. Benaki Museum Pireos St Annex, 138 Pireos & Andronikou, tel 210.345.3338. The exhibition runs to March 14.