Artists react to vandalism of controversial statue on southern Athens coast

Artists react to vandalism of controversial statue on southern Athens coast

The Chamber of Greek Artists on Thursday issued a statement reacting to the destruction of a statue at a public square on Athens’s southern coast that religious zealots said symbolized Satan.

Phylax (Guardian), a red winged figure by Kostis Georgiou sat atop a metal pole, was pulled down from its pedestal in Palaio Faliro in the early hours of Thursday by around 15 hooded men, according to an announcement from the municipal authority.

A man running a kiosk near the seaside park where the sculpture was displayed told authorities that the vandals turned up in a truck and two SUVs, and used ropes to pull the sculpture down and smash it on the ground. They also allegedly threatened the kiosk owner when he berated them for their act of vandalism.

Reacting to the incident, the Chamber of Greek Artists said it was “deeply saddened that even a small portion of society can be manipulated by arbitrary interpretations of a work of art.”

The reference was to a protest rally earlier this month spearheaded by a local parish priest and calling for the removal of the statue, which the cleric described in an open letter to Palaio Faliro Mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis as “a demon and a soldier of Satan that, instead of being honored, must be despised as blasphemous to the holy trinity.”

“Attacks carried out in such a brutally practical manner on art… are an extremely dangerous phenomenon pointing to our society’s increasing turn to fascism,” the artists’ group said. 

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