The names of the Greek painters El Greco, Demetrios Galanis, Giorgio de Chirico, Yiannis Tsarouchis and Alekos Fassianos are internationally known to those interested in visual arts.
But how many are familiar with newer names in the contemporary Greek art scene?
A former international lawyer, George N. Stathopoulos began collecting art around 35 years ago. Yet, instead of organizing an exhibition of his own collection, he became interested in giving Greek art, particularly Greek representational painting an international exposure.
Approximately four years ago he took upon himself the task of “exporting” Greek art to cultural venues and art galleries and bringing it to the attention of an international audience
Eight Greek contemporary artists were exhibiting their artwork for the second year in a row at the Belgravia Gallery in London, from the 2 to 23 of May.
Enthusiastic about the prospects of the event, Stathopoulos attracted an elite crowd, including London-based Greeks. The London event was the third successive international exhibition of contemporary, Greek representational painting. The first was held in 2004 at the Absolute Americana Gallery in St Augustine, Florida, and was reviewed at Art News. “Reflections from Greece” was subsequently held two years later at the Grand Gallery of the National Arts Club in Manhattan, with the backing of the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation.
All exhibitions were focused on the work of a group of painters who emerged on the Greek art scene in the 1980s and 90s. Although not tied together in the group, the oldest ones were identified as the “new, representational painters” and their work established a movement of representational painting in Greece. In the local art market, it is a commercially successful style of painting with ardent followers in the art world.
Individually the artists represented have exhibited in international museums, galleries and art fairs in several capitals such as Paris and New York. Two of the artists in this year’s exhibition: Daphne Angelidou and Giorgos Golfinos are teaching art at the Athens and the Thessaloniki School of Fine Arts.
The exhibition included paintings by 12 Greek painters: Daphne Aggelidou, Stefanos Daskalakis, Kostis Georgiou, Irini Iliopoulou, Manolis Zacharioudakis, Chrysa Vergi, Manolis Charos, Maria Filopoulou, Giorgos Golfinos, Erietta Vordoni, Pavlos Samios and Alexis Veroucas, who were brought together in the show because of the commitment they share in representational, figurative painting.
Operating as a sort of “ambassador” of Greek painting abroad, Stathopoulos does not want to turn his love for art into a profession. However he wants in a systematic way to slowly open a new, international route for Greek art, not just organize one-off successful exhibitions. Aided by his international contacts, he has spent many years of his life and studied in the U.S., Stathopoulos is busy networking and making contacts with the ambition of taking Greek art beyond its borders. The London exhibition was one step in that direction.