LIGHTS AND SHADOWS [A Panorama of Greek Printmaking]
FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY-ALEXANDROS SOUTZOS MUSEUM (Athens) AND THE MUNICIPAL ART GALLERY OF CHANIA
The collection of engravings of the National Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum in Athens is the most important of its kind in Greece. It contains extremely rare works of engraving, dating back to the first centuries of the emergence of this particular art-invention in Western Europe.
The collection of Greek printmaking goes back to the middle of the 18th century, with the rare paper icons (religious copper engravings) and their copper plates from Mount Athos - an excellent example of folk religiousness - up to our times with modern printers, specialized at the workshops of the Athens School of Fine Arts or abroad. In addition, and is being constantly enriched even with the actual tendencies of printmaking like Computer Art etc..
In the prints - collection of the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania one can find works, mainly dating back to the 60s and the 70s. Amongst them, woodcuts by Stavroula Voutsadaki, precious engravings by G. Gerontakis depicting sites of Chania that no longer exist, copper engravings by D. Galanis, engravings by the Cypriot Kanthos, as well as some works by A. Tassos, Vasso Katraki, E. Pallikaris and a lithograph by Dimitris Mitaras.
Two of the most important artists who, through their highly skilled technique and the originality of their thought, dominate Greek engraving, are Marcos Zavitsianos (1884-1923) and Lykourgos Kogevinas (1887-1940), both from the island of Corfu (Kerkyra). L. Kogevinas was the first to produce a large number of color etching. Internationally famous became Dimitrios Galanis (1879-1966), Angelos Theodoropoulos (1883-1965), Efthimis Papadimitriou (1895-1958) and Dimitris Giannoukakis (1898-1991).
However, Yannis Kefallinos (1894-1957), a great artist and craftsman, was the teacher of pre-war and most of the post-war engravers, such as Moshos (1906-1990), AJassos (1914-1985), Katraki (1914-1988), Grammatopoulos (1916) and Varlamos (1922).
Kefallinos taught at the Athens School of Fine Arts from 1932 to his death. With his teaching method and his perfectly equipped workshop, he led towards the art of engraving -even temporarily - many of the most talented painters of the School, such as Yannis Moralis (1916). Some of his students have been members of the group "Free Artists" (1939-40) which, apart from new painters and engravers taking their first steps at the time, included artists like Yorgos Moshos and Dimitris Yannoukakis, while Dimitris Galanis a Greek-Frenchman, took part honorably.
The "First Hellenic Exhibition of Original Engraving" in 1938, organized by Papadimitriou, Yannoukakis and Velissaridis (1909-1994), revealed for the first time a complete image of the reach possibilities offered by the art of printmaking.
The new generations of engravers mainly come from the workshop of Thanassis Exarhopoulos (1927), who taught at the Athens School of Fine Arts from 1982 to 1994 and where of definite importance were freedom for experimentation and the development of personal criteria by the young creators. The content of the work of contemporary artists that can no longer present a common style or technique reflects the personal desire for research, often expressed in unconventional ways. Abstraction through linearity, the use of every old or new search in style of the Western European and the American engraving, but more so the obligatory commitment of printing on a surface such as paper -which forms the greatest barrier in the choices of an engraver - have ultimately proved to be the most significant tools for the definition of contemporary engraving.