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Houses on Naxos



Konstantinos Maleas (1879-1928)
Houses on Naxos
pastel, coloured pencil and watercolour on paper
AGLC 262 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Landscape prevailed in Greek painting in the first two decades of the 20th century. It was mainly in this field that innovative artistic trends were expressed during this period. Established in Athens in 1917, the ‘Techni’ [Art] group of artists brought together groundbreaking artists who aspired to create a Greek Modernism. Konstantinos Maleas and Nikos Lytras were amongst them.A founding member of the group, Maleas painted Mount Taygetus in 1920, by which time his style had fully evolved under the influence of the Post-Impressionist movements and Paul Cézanne. Having long returned to Greece from Paris, where he studied, he was almost exclusively preoccupied with landscape subjects from 1917 to 1920.The view of the mountain landscape of Sparta – the snowy mountain masses in the background, the bare slopes in purple shades, the groups of prickly pears below and the green bands in the middle- and foreground – is painted in vivid, lustrous colours and clearly legible brushwork that allows us to trace the movement of the brush. The contoured forms, the schematisation, the perspective-abolishing flatness, the high horizon, the rhythmical arrangement of space in successive horizontal bands – all of these elements, which are present in this painting in the A. G. Leventis Gallery, are characteristic of Maleas’ production in general.

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About the artist

ARTIST OF THE MONTH – JANUARY 2016 Constantinos Maleas was born and raised in Constantinople. His first contact with art came when he attended Constantinople’s Great School of the Nation, he continued his studies at the Istanbul Technical University, focusing on architecture. In 1901 he travelled to Paris, where he stayed for six years. In Paris he studied under Henri Martin and attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. He was also the Director of the Museum of Folk Handicrafts in Athens and travelled extensively throughout Greece and the East. Constantinos Maleas was also a founding member  of the ‘Techni’ group of artists in, whose aim was to develop Modernism in Greek art. The group was formed in 1917. Maleas’s work mainly comprises landscapes; he created his own style based on Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism and Symbolism. He was also greatly inspired by the pure lines and volumes of continental Greece and the Aegean, creating paintings full of light and colour.   Mount Taygetus, depicts a mountain landscape near Sparta, painted in vivid, almost glossy colours, with distinct, visible brushwork and thick layers of paint. The composition is divided into flat, horizontal sections: in the background, we have the bright blue sky, the majestic snow-covered mountains, and the purple-accented bare brown mountains; in front are bright green and yellow plains divided by a road and a row of dark green cacti. The bold dark outlines and the minimal perspective are especially representative of Maleas’ style, as is the very high and narrow horizon.

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