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Woman Kneading



Pericles Pantazis (0-0)
Woman Kneading
oil on canvas
AGLC 35 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

The substantial number of works by the short-lived, progressive artist of Epirote origin in the A. G. Leventis Foundation Collection is due to the collector Evangelos Averoff-Tossizza’s special interest in the life and work of Pericles Pantazis; Anastasios Leventis acquired the Averoff Collection in the 1970s.

Pantazis is a special case in 19th-century Greek art history. He never followed the path to Munich and the Academy there, but lived in Belgium, where he joined the avant-garde and became a pioneer exponent of Impressionism. Influenced by the precursors of this movement, Manet and Courbet, the artist developed an Impressionistic approach to landscape painting, which was the subject matter of innovation par excellence: in Rainy Sunset, the fascinating contrasts, articulated through bright colour brushwork, are characteristic, as flashes of light emerge through the heavy clouds; Rocks by the Sea captures through the dynamic intensity of texture an almost abstract quality, which reflects the glowing light in infinite colour gradations, describing a fleeting moment. The realistic human figures – in the artist’s oil paintings, such as Gypsy Woman with Harmonica, as well as in his small watercolours – indicate his penetrating and sensitive eye. Another favourite subject matter was still life, in which he employed a dark, warm palette, as in Composition with Vases, Plates and an Umbrella and Composition with Vases, Flowers and a Fan. These are works of a complex structure and with realistically rendered textures. There are clear references to the still-life tradition of the Low Countries, while the elements of Japonisme and art d'Orient testify to their popularity in Europe at that time.

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About the artist

He studied at the School of Arts in Athens (1864-1871) and in 1872 moved to Brussels. In 1878 he held a solo exhibition organised by the Artand Letters Circle in Brussels; he also participated in the Exposition Universelle in Paris. In 1880 he travelled to southern France and Greece,and in the following year participated in a charity exhibition for the benefit of the Red Cross in Athens. In early 1881 he returned to Brusselsand soon after had symptoms of tuberculosis. In Belgium he became a founding member of the ‘Chrysalis Circle’ (1875), where he showedhis work (1876-1878, 1881), the Circle of Watercolourists and Printmakers (1883) and Les ??, whose first exhibition, in 1884, featured works bythe artist, who had died just a few days earlier. Joining the explorations of the European avant-garde in the late 19th century, the artist developed his idiom under the influence of Realismand pre-Impressionist tendencies. His subject matter was everyday scenes, still-life paintings, portraits and landscapes.

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