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Cavafy painted

26 September 2013 / 17:09:54  GRReporter
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The exhibition "C. Cavafy: Painted", presenting the works of 40 contemporary Greek artists inspired by the poetry of the great poet, Constantine Cavafy, opens today at the Theocharakis Foundation.

Over 100 works such as paintings, sculptures, woodcarvings by leading Greek artists, who had preferred Cavafy’s poems to depict their own world, were collected from private and public collections for the purpose of the exhibition, organized on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the poet's birth.

The universal dimension of Cavafy’s poetry is revealed in the paintings by Nikos Hadjikyriakos -  Ghikas and Yiannis Tsarouhis. Panagiotis Tetsis was inspired by the poem "Alexandria kings", Kostas Tsoklis and Christos Bokoros by "Candles", Konstantinos Xenakis by "Ithaca", Eduardo Sakaian by "Wishes", Vana Xenou by "Walls", Yiannis Psihopedis by the poem "Far away".
"As heretical as it sounds, I believe Cavafy thinks in images, ideas come afterwards and mix with excitement, experiences and emotions," President of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi Eleni Arveler states in the catalogue of the exhibition and adds, "I think Cavafy was a stubborn, persistent admirer of paintings, not only of a national but also of a world perspective. So, even if you do not remember the exact verses of one of his works, you would surely think of an image, a picture. The examples are numerous. I could briefly recall the old man sleeping at the table, the tears and the long manes of Achilles’ horses, the coloured pieces of glass from the crown of John VI Kantakouzenos, the old mirror at the entrance of the rich man's house, the purple or scrappy clothes, the broken wheel, the ships with the looted items, etc. All these constitute the decor of Cavafy 's poetry."

Cavafy lived in the distant past "and walked alone in the company of his desires and searches, sometimes in the streets of Alexandria, other times in the dark quarters of Antioch", says curator of the exhibition Takis Mavrotas and adds,

"His hometown, Alexandria, has brought together a lot of cultures, it is a mosaic of people with different cultural, religious and artistic traditions,  and it was the field for his inspired work. Cavafy lived in the Greek community rooted in the lands of Egypt, consisting of about 80,000 people in the 20th century. His flat on the 2nd floor at 10 Lepsius Street was his shelter. In the city centre, amidst the brothels and the hospital of the Greek community, the poet listened to the noisy micro world of passion and the feeling of pain and death from the nearby hospital. His flat is marked by his aesthetics, he lived without a telephone and electricity, by the light of candles and kerosene lamps. Dozens of people requesting to meet with him had visited this small space. He, like a sculptor, creating his works, defined with particular attention where each guest should sit so that the light from the window fell on him or her."

"Cavafy met many artists and sculptors in his lifetime. In 1901 when he was 38 years old, he visited the studio of George Iakovidis in Athens and was impressed by the genre works of the artist. At the same time he met Georgios Roilos who was finishing his famous painting "The Battle at Pharsalus", which is one of the most important works in historiography.

Also, Cavafy knew great Greek painter Konstantinos Maleas who painted his portrait. In 1932 he met sculptor Michalis Tobros in his studio who, at that time, was creating for Nafplio the monumental statue of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first leader of the free Greek state after the liberation from the Turks.

"The works of 40 contemporary Greek artists presented at the exhibition "K. Cavafy: Painted", relate, each in its own "dialect", the timeless poetry of the Alexandrian poet, gaining strength and endurance through his works," concludes Takis Mavrotas.

Tags: Constantine CavafyExhibitionTheocharakis Foundation
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