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Landscapes of Memory

About the artist

1934 - 2014. Kostas Paniaras was born in 1934 in Kiato, Korinthia. After taking his first painting lessons with Theodoros Lekos (Errikos), he studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Yannis Moralis, taking, at the same time, lessons with Eleni Zongolopoulou. His first solo exhibition was presented in 1956 in Athens (Monica Pane gallery). Then he left for Paris, where he studied painting at the studio of André Lhote, mosaic and fresco at the studio of Gino Severini and lithography at the École des Beaux Arts. Until 1976, he stayed in Paris with visits to the U.S.A., Iran and the Far East. He presented his works—paintings, sculptures, constructions and installations—in many solo and group exhibitions in Greece and abroad. From 1961 to 1983, he cooperated with the Alexander Iolas Gallery in New York. Retrospective exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Pieridis Art Gallery (1984) and the Benakis Museum (‘Landscapes and Utopia’, 2007). He died in Athens in 2014.

About the exhibition

In Kostas Paniaras’ one-man show at Citronne Gallery, ‘Landscapes of Μemory’ focuses on overpainted replicas and the ambivalent treatment of the cultural past. The exhibition ‘Landscapes of Μemory’ aims at approaching the development of the artist’s aniconic idiom and to bring out the distinct visual and thematic components of his works.

The gallery presents a section which features overpainted sculpture alongside of two-dimensional paintings on canvas and paper. The exhibited works thus belong to his more general artistic production. At any event, the artist regards his overpainted works of sculpture as paintings; that is, in his view the copies of sculpture make up another painted surface. The gallery is therefore showcasing paintings on canvas and on sculpted surface just as he used to do.

The exhibition has three particular sections. The first presents some of Paniaras’ last works, which belong to the large section entitled ‘The View’, a visual retrospective in space and time, with references to his personal memories of landscapes. The sea of the Corinthian Gulf dominates, as also do nature and the sky, mental images of the land of his ancestors.

The second section contains overpainted works of sculpture. The first overpainted sculptures date from the beginning of the 1980’s and treat almost exclusively topics of memory (‘The Memory’, 1984; ‘The Memory of the Night’, 1984; ‘Triple Memory of Sikyon’, 1984). Many of these works reappear in the next decades, for instance, ‘Sebastian’ (1985 and 1993)— at times drastically transformed, like the complete but bisected head of Alexander (1983).

Finally, the third sub-section features early works with fantastic landscapes and abstract forms. It is possible to detect a gradual transition from particular, naturalistic elements to abstraction. These works, little known or entirely unknown in Greece, show the thread of an artistic trajectory culminating in a final phase. In the works from the 1960’s it is also possible to discern the element of ‘randomness’ - actual, specific material that is part and parcel of his artistic creations.