A panorama of Athens by Panayiotis Tetsis

Kathimerini held a reception for Athens Academy member, artist Panayiotis Tetsis, on May 18. The event crowned a long relationship linking the artist, the newpaper and its publisher, and the newspaper’s equally long and deeply rooted relationship with Greek art. Tetsis is not only an avid reader of Kathimerini, but also has close personal relations with many people at the newspaper, which owns some exceptional works of his. The most recent of them is a vast painting of the sea which adorns a wall in one of the rooms in the office building at Neo Faliron. His professional connection with the paper began in 1958, when he painted his architectural fantasy of neoclassical Athens for Kathimerini. He has depicted buildings in impossible combinations and settings; some had even been demolished at the time he did the painting. The work is thus not strictly accurate, but it is truthful in its presentation of neoclassical Athens as it developed in the first years after independence. This urban style remained predominant until the 1950s, when rebuilding drastically altered the face and soul of the city. This is the truth of a Greece built through toil, vision, great ideas and great disasters, which was later destroyed to be built in a different way – in haste, sometimes without care, and always following the inescapable fate of modernization. Omonia was the hub of great changes in postwar Greece. This is where many neoclassical buildings were demolished and large modern buildings and apartment blocks rose up. Tetsis was 33 when he painted the work «Neoclassical Athens.» Two years earlier he had returned from his studies in Paris and moved into his favorite street, Xenocratous, where he still lives. Starting with his own street, he began to paint the balcony doors of Athens, neoclassical buildings on Lycabettus, the gardens, roofs and interiors of buildings. The year 1958 was important for him in many ways. He had his second one-man exhibition in Athens (Zygos Gallery), and recieved a warm reception from the critics. He got talking to critic Eleni Bakalo, who was posing for her portrait, and the two decided to found the Fine Arts Institute (which later became the Bakalo School), where Tetsis taught till 1976, when he was elected professor of the School of Fine Arts. The painting of neoclassical Athens is not typical of his style, which has been described as «built on color.» As Tetsis says: «I used not to paint like that. But it is a work made with love, in which I tried to use the papier peint style of painted paper tapestry. After the French Revolution, for reasons of economy, the bourgeoisie replaced the costly tapestries of the aristocracy with painted paper, which they drew on with stencils. The Benaki Museum has such painted paper. Of course I painted without a stencil, and the work is one of a kind.» Shortly after this work, Tetsis executed other commissions for the National Bank and the Credit Bank. 15. National Technical University (Polytechneio). Designed by Lyssandros Kaftanzoglou (1862-1876).

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