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Island



Takis Fragkoudes (1900-1978)
Island
oil on canvas
AGLC 718 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Takis Frangoudes studied law at the University of Athens and developed his talent in painting by attending courses for two years at the Athens School of Fine Arts. Although he settled in Athens in 1928, his presence on the Cyprus arts scene was instrumental. In 1952 he organised a solo exhibition of his works at the Forest Park Hotel in Platres, at a time when very few art shows were being held on the island. He also took part in two group painting exhibitions – amongst the first group exhibitions in Cyprus – in 1952 and 1953 as part of the Platres Festival. At the same time, he worked closely with Κυπριακά Γράμματα [Cypriot letters literary periodical], sending, until its discontinuation in 1956, regular reports and critical reviews regarding the visual arts exhibitions that were taking place in Athens. To his death, he kept in close contact with his homeland, and in 1969 he held a large retrospective showing of his work in Cyprus. In Greece, where he carried out the greater part of his artistic activity, he was always known as the ‘Cypriot painter’. Thanks to his strong connection with Cyprus and the fact that he was one of the first painters who showed his work in Cyprus, helping to expose the public to art, he justifiably holds a position amongst the first-generation Cypriot painters.

At the School of Fine Arts, Frangoudes’ professors were Georgios Iakovidis and Vikentios Bokatsiambis, but stylistically, before it evolved to total abstraction, his painting was influenced by the spirit of the art of Konstantinos Parthenis. It is this precise influence which is evoked in the work Island Scene, in the A. G. Leventis Gallery Collection. It is an Aegean seascape, most probably a beach on Hydra, with the mountains of the Peloponnese in the background. In order to render it, the artist adopted a geometric manner, in which the curve and the straight line alternate rhythmically. His schematised themes are organised in parallel, horizontal plains, a feature which lends the composition a pleasing calm. The unifying element is the vertical presence of two trees in the centre of the composition, which creates an uplifting impression.

Frangoudes used a limited colour palette, which is dominated by tonal gradations of light blue and green; these are set off by the selective presence of the colour red, lending the painting a sense of musicality. The colour was applied in a diluted form in order to render the atmospheric transparency and the quality of the Aegean light. Around the figures, the painter allowed the off-white canvas to be visible, or else he surrounded them in a white outline, making them appear as if radiating an inner light. By spiritualising his figures in this way, he lent to a realistic scene a transcendental quality and a transtemporal dimension. The composition – lucid, austere and balanced – reflects the character of Aegean nature, managing at the same time to surpass the visible and reveal the painter’s vision.

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About the artist

He studied law at the University of Athens and art at the School of Arts (later known as the School of Fine Arts) in Athens for two years under Georgios Iakovidis and Vikentios Bokatsiambis. In 1928 he settled in Athens, but continued to maintain close ties with Cyprus. At the outset of his career as a painter, he produced Impressionist works. Around 1925 he was decisively influenced by the spirit of the painting of Konstantinos Parthenis, going on, in the early 1950s, to study the geometric vocabulary of Cubism, combined with the bright colours of Orphism. In the late 1950s, he turned to abstract currents and non-figurative work. His work was shown in solo exhibitions in Cyprus (1952, 1969) and Athens (1951, 1955, 1958, 1960, 1964, 1972). Beginning in 1939 he took part in many group shows. In 1969, in a group exhibition at the Lensbury Art Club in London, he received the Europa First Prize.

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