Exhibit of Greek Surrealist Paintings in Chania

nikos engonopoulos painting
Nikos Engonopoulos Painting

Even 24 hours after viewing the marvelous exhibit “Beyond the Real” at the Chania Municipal Art Gallery, I’m still daydreaming of a world with shining, stark marble cliffs and invisible floors that support me as I walk.

The paintings of Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) welcome us and draw us into the gallery with their rich, vivid colors. We puzzle and smile at his sleek human forms reminiscent of the ancient Cycladic sculptures. Then there is a bit of confusion due to the incongruity of the objects with which the humans are occupied. But when we open our minds and realize the whole painting and its details are telling us a personal story we feel satisfied.

The Engonopoulos’ painting on the exhibits poster for example, told me a story about Achilles and his reluctance to leave boyish play behind to go to war. He isn’t holding a spear but relaxing against a boat oar with his boat and the sea beckoning him in the background.

The protagonists of his paintings are famous Greeks such as Solon. As we view Engonopoulos’ paintings we understand, perhaps only subconsciously, the mythical impact ancient Greek history still has on modern times.

Painting by Antonio Mayo
Painting by Antonio Mayo

The paintings of Antonio Mayo (1905-1990) however demonstrate the effect of the Metaphysical School of Painting on some of the surrealists. His human subjects find themselves in more intimate settings of a fourth dimension or soundless whispers. His paintings representing the grace of creation are beautiful and subtle.

Six artists are represented from the generation of 1967 to 1974. Each have a unique presentation yet each are united by references to Greece in their paintings. The artists move us through three realms of the state of mind … our inner, our daily and farther into an outer realm. Some do so with layers of objects that seem to have no relationship at first glance. Others physically manipulate their canvas and frame.

Many of the paintings of George Derpapas are icons from a time when ancient Greek spirituality is disintegrating and the Byzantine order is exerting its power. Some tell stories of earth’s deserts and a universe of the future coming face to face.

And lastly I mention the artist Theofilos Katsipanos whose fearful surrealistic images show no regard for boundaries.

This is a fun exhibit to view with friends to share impressions of each of the paintings. I hope you will be able to visit “Beyond the Reality” this summer.

* Article by Vicki Nikolaidis

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