"Byzantine art gave me faith in everything that was still a mystery to me. Up there [on Mount Athos] I clearly saw that art, in all of its great periods, is nothing but shape and colour, which had to correspond to a form that an entire country struggled to conceive. By the word form, I mean a set of aesthetic laws, according to which, people and eras are adapted to everyday needs." Spyros Papaloukas

Monk, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Dionysiou Monastery (1924 - 1924) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

Spyros Papaloukas: Time on Mount Athos

"The works with the theme of Mount Athos show in many ways the significance of Papaloukas' relation to the Greek espace, both natural and man-made. The lie of the land on Mount Athos, as well as the monasteries, hermitages, cloisters, monk cells and boatyards, with their complex architecture, colours and ornamentation, offer many varied challenges to the artist and will become the field where he plays out his artistic pursuits in terms of light, colour, form and composition, structuring the canvas according to principles and teachings belonging to late 19th and early 20th century Modernist movements. At the same time, he systematically studies Byzantine art, thereby broadening his horizons, exercising his gaze and thought processes and further fortifying the artistic arsenal he had acquired during his studies at European art schools. This gives him the impetus to arrive at certain principles of modern art, via other routes. In an original manner, Papaloukas takes advantage of his invaluable experience he gained of the interplay between Byzantine art and the messages of Modernism, by taking on, a few years later, the monumental work of executing the iconography of the Amfissa Church of Annunciation."   -APHRODITE KOURIA, 2003

Boatyard at Megisti Lavra Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1928 - 1928, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Boatyard at Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Boatyard at Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Boatyard at Megisti Lavra Monastery (1924 - 1924) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

"I think that of all the painters of his generation, Papaloukas is the most 'teacherly' in the sense of the teacher in whose work a series of conclusions are encoded. It is not merely the issues that preoccupied the Post-Impressionists, mainly Seurat, but also the plasticity of the Byzantine hagiographers and Ravenna mosaicists. I rediscovered these elements upon viewing Papaloukas' work. The near obsessive pursuit of form, the immediacy, the deeply chromatic sense of design are vividly conveyed to us without spoilage and the influences of Art Nouveau that beleaguered his generation and left signs of wear and tear even on Parthenis. Papaloukas' works strike me as a precious gem that remains untarnished, retaining its brilliance in all times. His lesson goes beyond mere technique and this is why it is very difficult to apply without his passion. He does not propose a painting technique, but in-depth research. This is the element, I think, that makes him timely." Dimitris Mytaras, 1976

Agios Andreas Skete, Spyros Papaloukas, 1932 - 1935, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Karakallou Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Interior with Bed (1923 - 1923) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

Small Tributes: Yannis Tsarouhis

"Of all the Greek painters of his generation -of the generation that reacted against Impressionism- Spyros Papaloukas remains the most 'painterly'. Painterliness, the natural passion of the painter for colour and light, saved him from crashing into the reefs of quaintness that an artist will always find when he wants to assign more weight to a drawing than it can carry on its own. Behind his lines and analyses, which were more mysterious and mystical than rational, there was a human heart brimming with enthusiasm and a firm vision. If we add the piety of hand to these basic virtues, we will see why his oeuvre will gain ground as time goes by."

Boatyard at Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1934 - 1934, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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View of Karyes, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Dionysiou Monastery (1924 - 1924) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

Boatyard at Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1935 - 1935, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Agiou Pavlou Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1923 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Agiou Pavlou Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1923 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Passage at Simonopetra Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Kafsokalyvia, Kyriako (Central Church) (1925 - 1925) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

In Byzantium Discipline Reigned

A breath of freedom is what distinguishes our times. Art's demand is to express the present as well. The craftsman may be rooted in tradition. This, however, should not keep him from having his say in the present. Our times have made many conquests in all fields. But they suffer from the drama that they are fragmented times. For the contemporary artist, the following need arises: after having analysed and studied the elements of modern reality, to recompose them, recasting reality, in order to reconnect them. The study of traditional works benefits the young artist. But it should not enslave him and keep him perceiving his times. The study of nature is a basic prerequisite for the sincere, dedicated artist. It is essential in understanding and explaining the forms of Byzantine tradition. He must know, that is, the starting point of Byzantine craftsmen when they interpreted a  certain natural form in a certain way, finding which observations and which study it was based on. This frank and honest study of nature and the laws of painting is an act of Christianity. It is not the mere devotion to traditions...

Kafsokalyvia, Kyriako (Central Church) (1924 - 1924) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

There are craftsmen who, by bowing to Christian tradition, believe they are or appear to be Christians, while they may have a view to other benefits (fame, money, etc) and this is why they sometimes make concessions and compromises, flattering the taste of the public (supposedly "correcting" Byzantine icons and such). But are these craftsmen not acting improperly in this way? They accuse those who paint in the Renaissance mode of impropriety, but are they not doing the same? That is why the craftsman is not sincere when he relies on what he has "borrowed" from tradition. One leg does not suffice to stand or walk; both are needed. And the teachings of traditions are only the one leg.. "Return to nature!" It is something that involves cost and sacrifice, especially at the outset. But it is necessary in order for one to be able to better carry out the task of hagiography. (From a conversation with Spyros Papaloukas, documented by the hagiographer Konstantinos Xinopoulos, June 1956)

The Catholic Iviron Monastery with Snow, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1925 - 1925, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1923 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Kafsokalyvia, House of the Ioasaph (1923 - 1924) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

Pantokrator Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Kafsokalyvia, House of the Ioasaph (1924 - 1924) by Spyros PapaloukasB & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

"Athens-Paris: Stereotypes and Reversals", Antonis Kotidis

Papaloukas is the Greek artist with the closest affinity to the Nabis: bold compositions with intense simplification of form, and non-realistic colours, aggressive in their brightness, and extremely decorative compositional elements. The painter finds justification in the distortions, in the mapping arrangement of the motifs and in the pronounced elisions with Byzantine art. He is, in any case, closely linked to the precedent set by some members of the Nabis group, particularly Ranson. Later he goes beyond all the Greek painters of his generation. He bases the overall morphology of his oeuvre in stylistic references to Byzantine and even classical Greek tradition, despite the clear and undisguised modernity of many of his works. Herewe have a reversal of stereotypes similar to that of Parthenis.

Boatyard at Megisti Lavra Monastery, Spyros Papaloukas, 1924 - 1924, From the collection of: B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music
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Credits: Story

GCI EXHIBITS CURATOR
Anna Georgiadou

TRANSLATION BY
Thalia Bisticas

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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