Megaron puts great set artist in the limelight

The work of artist and stage designer Panos Aravantinos (1884-1930), currently on display in a large exhibition at the Athens Concert Hall, leads the viewer straight into the heart of Central Europe in the inter-war years. The inauguration of the exhibit was held last week within the context of a performance of Richard Strauss’s «Woman Without a Shadow,» the performance with which Aravantinos made his debut in Germany 82 years ago. The Athens Concert Hall has inaugurated the first complete display of works by this highly charismatic man and artist, showing sketches he made as a student, architectural studies, models and photographic material of a biographical nature, showcasing the significance of Aravantinos’s contribution to the theater. «The exhibition presents for the first time original material that was picked specifically for this show,» explains Efi Andreadi, the director of the Athens Concert Hall’s exhibitions. An earlier exhibition in 1980 at the National Gallery, though containing a number of works by Aravantinos from private collections and archives, was nowhere near as complete as this one, which has borrowed works from large collections and museums. Aravantinos was born in Corfu and raised in Athens. He followed a brilliant career as an art student in Berlin before returning to Greece where he fought in the Balkan wars. This was the age of the operetta and a period of great upheaval across the Continent. He worked briefly in Greece with Spyros Samaras but Europe beckoned, and in 1917 he moved back to Germany where he embarked on a significant career as a stage designer for the biggest opera houses, incorporating all the great, cutting-edge artistic forms in his work. His triumph with the sets of Strauss’s «Woman Without a Shadow» launched him to the forefront of Germany’s artistic scene. He took part in a plethora of productions and was made an honorary artistic consultant for Germany’s state theaters.