“MY SOUL is often a back street on Mykonos when night begins to fall”, wrote Surrealist artist/poet Nikos Engonopoulos back in 1939. I imagine those back streets were pretty quiet in those days, and nothing like they are today, since Mykonos became Greece’s party island par excellence. But this island does have an arty side to it too, for it is here that the Athens School of Fine Arts had set up its first annex, back in 1932. The ‘island of the winds’ had already been pulling a cultured crowd from the early 20th century, due to its close proximity to Delos, and the antiquities there, excavated by the French School of Athens (between the years of 1873-1913).
The current exhibition at the Municipal Gallery of Mykonos (runs till July 31), entitled ‘Mykonos through the Gaze of the Artists. From the Interwar years to 1960’, sheds light on the unique cultural progress of the island, and how the artists have depicted its windy streets and windswept landscapes, crystal-clear seas and picturesque churches.
This fascinating show, curated by art historian/curator Irini Savvani, presents the works of major Greek painters – many of whom stayed at the Mykonos Annex of the Athens School of Fine Arts, founded in 1932 by internationally acclaimed sculptor (and director of the school at the time), Kostas Dimitriadis. Some of the show’s works haven’t been exhibited before, and comprises masterpieces by Emmanuel Zairis, Jean Kéfalinos, Jannis Spyropoulos, Yannis Moralis plus Mykonian painter Maria Iglessi (whose house is home to the Municipal Art Gallery of Mykonos).
The paintings are on loan from a wide range of collections: Ilias E. Daradimos’ collection; the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation; the Jannis and Zoe Spyropoulos Foundation; the Alpha Bank Art Collection; the Folklore Collection of Mykonos; the Panayotis Kousathanas Library – Municipal Research Foundation on Culture and Tradition; and the Municipality of Mykonos.