The Cultural Foundation of Tinos in collaboration with the Corfu Heritage Foundation presents the visual art exhibition “Ex-Staseis: Attempts at the Representation of Liberty” curated by Art Historian Dr Megakles Rogakos.

Rationale: On the occasion of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, which concerns the liberation of the nation from the Ottoman yoke and the creation of an independent nation state, the issue of liberty stands out. The Region of Ionian Islands aimed to promote the role of the national poet Dionysios Solomos with events that bear the general title “Hymn to Liberty”. Part of these events, which include lectures and concerts, are two visual art exhibitions curated by Dr Rogakos – “Hymn to Liberty”, a historical exhibition at the Municipal Gallery of Corfu (4 – 31 August 2021), and “Ex-Staseis: Attempts at the Representation of Liberty”, an exhibition of contemporary art at the Cultural Foundation of Tinos (10 July – 10 September 2021).

Facts: The Ex-Staseis exhibition is thematic and concerns the evolving conception of liberty, as defined in the past and shaped by the present. The concept of liberty is multifaceted and lends itself to philosophical analysis. In the colonial past, the subject of liberty was morally instructive with the specific aim of eliminating the enslaving yoke, which was a necessary condition for the creation of an independent state with free citizens. At present, in an increasingly materialistic age, the subject is mainly about inner liberty, that is, the independence of thought and action from the gravity of authorities, superstitions, superstitions and prejudices. Looking at the cultural history of the world, only a few facts about liberty stand out. This exhibition explores the origins and evolution of the idea of ​​liberty and examines its current significance, based on these facts.

Explanation: The ttile Ex-Staseis is a witticism, etymologically derived from the composite verb existimi (ek + istimi), which means an intense mystical experience in which the mystic eliminates contact with reality and the world of the senses and is interested in the spirit and direct communication with the divine element. Here, it has the character of a word pun that works the same in Greek and English. It means the transgression, the state of coming out of oneself, which supposedly occurs when one experiences the essence of freedom. The poster of the exhibition presents the ptinopous, the mythological human foot of Hermes that bears feathers and enables him to exceed the possibilities of walking. Here, it is of interest for the paradoxical but interesting combination of the foot as a point of contact with the earth and the wings that lift it from the ground. In this way it refers to the term ex-staseis of the exhibition, as a means of transgression from material reality towards spiritual liberation.

Works:The Ex-Staseis include works by contemporary Greek artists on the subject of the current dimension of the concept of freedom. 40 artists present one work each that will emerge from their research on the ecstasy that leads to intellectual freedom as transcending the boundaries of space and time. The artists are: Manolis Anastasakos, Annita Argyroiliopoulou, Nikos Basias, Thomas Bertolis, Ismini Bonatsou, Lamprini Boviatsou, Thodoros Brouskomatis, Manolis Charos, Kyriakos Chatzimichailidis, Costis, Alexandros Dimitriadis, Milly Flamburiari, Dimosthenis Gallis, Christos Garoufalis, Nikos Giavropoulos, Stella Kapezanou, Vassilis Karakatsanis, Harris Kondosphyris, Aggelika Korovessi, Vassiliki Koskiniotou, Nikos Kryonidis, Kostas Lavdas, Agalis Manessi, Panayiotis Masonidis, George Megoulas, Dimitris Miliotis, Ioannis Monogyios, Konstantinos Patsios, Margarita Petrova, Lena Platonos, Marina Provatidou, Rania Rangou, Dimitris Sevastakis, Vassilis Solidakis, Tita Stavrou, Petros Stravoravdis, Praxitelis Tzanoulinos, Katia Varvaki, Chryssa Vathianaki and Andreas Zymvragos. The works were selected based also on the criterion to be representative of the latest trends in international contemporary artistic production.

Album: The album that accompanies the exhibition is a broad tribute to the national anniversary of 1821. It includes studies on the Greek Revolution, presentation of the forerunners and heroes of the National Rebirth and special research, supported by the Region of Ionian Islands, on the role of the Heptanese in the National Liberation Struggle. The second part, which concerns the Ex-Staseis, includes a treatise and a brief commentary on each exhibit by the curator of the exhibition. It is offered at the symbolic price of 20 € and is available in two languages ​​- Greek and English.

Additional Action: In the context of the exhibition, educational activities will be carried out for children, teenagers and the general public.

Sponsorship: The co-organisers of the events with the general title “Hymn to Liberty” – Region of Ionian Islands, Ionian University, Cultural Foundation of Tinos and Corfu Heritage Foundation – express their gratitude to the Piraeus Bank for the sponsorship.

Opening Day: The opening of the exhibition will take place on Saturday, 10 July 2021 at 20:00 in the Nikolaos Gyzis Exhibition Hall of ITIP.

Opening Time: The exhibition will remain open to the public until 10 September 2021 – Mon, Wed, Thu: 09:00-15:00, Fri-Sun: 10:30-14:00 & 19:00-21:00.

Contact: Cultural Foundation of Tinos, Akti Georgiou Drosou, Tinos, GR 84200, +30 22830 229070, info@itip.gr.

Visual Material: High resolution images from the poster and works in the exhibition can be found at the following hyperlink: www.corfuheritagefoundation.org/ex-staseis/

1.- Manolis Anastasakos (Athens, b. 1977). Liberty, 2011. Oil and enamel on paper pressed on wood, 82 x 77 cm. Courtesy of a Private Collection, Athens.

In his work Liberty, Manolis Anastasakos before 1933 converses with a work of the same title by Constantinos Parthenis (1878-1967) as a visual ancestor. He recognizes the virtues of the old work and updates them. He carries liberty in today’s era in its terms. He refers to a triune shape: nature as floral decoration, society as machine gears, and god as the key. Liberty resides in nature with the abundance of fruit, the changes in the weather and the succession of the seasons. The floral decoration frames the right side of the work. For liberty to thrive the material environment of society must encourage it. That is why, machine gears balance the other side of the composition. Liberty opens doors. At the top hangs a key from a blue ribbon. It is derived from the divine, outside the frame. For Anastasakos liberty is an archangelic figure without gender, a Renaissance force which promises hope in a dark era. Beyond the earthy palette, which symbolises the organic dimension of life, he adds white and black tones, which refer to the harsh contrast of modern technology. Liberty seeks in the sky something superior, unattainable, a utopia. Anastasakos’ work refers to the ascetic condition where the realisation of liberty depends on the harmonious assembly of its three modes of existence.

2.- Annita Argyroiliopoulou (Athens, b. 1960). Little Before, 2013. Mixed media: charcoal, plexiglass and found branches, 157 x 155 cm. Courtesy of Ekfrasi – Yianna Grammatopoulou, Athens.

Inspired by the biological edge of a teenager who comes of age, the Little Before of Annita Argyroiliopoulou presents the figure of a human body ready to fly. The moment still finds it on the earth, in a position similar to that which the birds take when they open their wings. On her back she grows branches, not like in the myth of Daphne, but to become wings that will allow her to fly away. Light, not compact material, the branches are structural elements of nature, which start from the solid earth and grow upwardly. Here the feather-branches become the farewell of the mother, the wish for the adolescent to fly away towards the liberty of adulthood that resides within her. The work condenses a moment, but at the same time contains the before and after. The frame is not a barrier literally or metaphorically, since shortly afterwards the winged adult will find herself beyond that, where she will travel by every respective viewer that converses with the work. Besides the wings-branches are already growing and exceeding the limits of the stretcher. The flight to the unchartered areas of liberty is inevitable and its realisation is only a matter of time.

3.- Nikos Basias (Athens, b. 1956). The truly happy man is only the free one, 2021. Thermal print on aluminium, 100 x 60 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Chania.

Cypriot cynic philosopher Demonax (c. 100-170 AD) reported that “the truly happy man is only the free one”. That substantial happiness can well be discerned in the particular Statue of Liberty that Thomas Thomopoulos erected at Profitis Elias, Chania, in 1937. The face of the goddess Athena once shone with a smile of satisfaction and the originally coloured huge blue eyes. Unfortunately, since 1968 it lies scattered in the area where it once proudly stood. The Chaniot photographer Nikos Basias was interested in this important statue. In his work he composed its story through historical and contemporary photographs in the form of a puzzle. In the centre of the composition he placed a photograph of the intact marble model that is kept in the Prefecture Hall of Chania. In various strategic positions, he used three photographs of the archive – one from the workshop at the moment that the sculptor is making the statue; another where the sculptor supervises its erection with scaffolding on the ground; and finally of a colourful postcard that presents it complete in its environment. Additionally, he completed the history with photographs from the shards of the statue as they are laid on the site. He took care especially the parts of the legs, the shield and face to match with corresponding points of the model. Although the pieces of the puzzle are presented as evidence of history with gaps between them, they give a unified image of the situation and beg for the moral restoration of the statue and the mental defence of liberty. The magnifying lens of the photographer focuses on the engraved word “liberty” as the supreme ideal of Demonax.

4.- Thomas Bertolis (Athens, b. 1973). Pegasus, 2011. Baked clay, 62 x 41 x 53 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Pegasus was the full white winged horse of Greek mythology. Legends abound about his supernatural origins and his wild and proud nature. The very ability of flight is always considered a universal symbol of liberty and the free spirit. Despite symbolising the idea of untamed free spirit, Pegasus was domesticated by Bellerophon in order to help him defeat the evil Chimera. However, he remained free in his heart and wise beyond human understanding. Thomas Bertholis was interested in Pegasus as an idol that combines fantasy with liberty. With a spontaneous zest for creation he modelled a winged horse starting from the ancient Greek idea updated with the current standard of automatic expression. Thus, while Pegasus has the characteristics of the being which composes a horse with the wings of the eagle, he is indifferent to the morphological imitation of nature. Guided by a spirit of pure love and style of child naivety, the artist seems to have modelled his own Pegasus with shut eyes and open the third eye of intuition. The result was an organic whole with strong legs that ground it steadily on the earth, banner-like wings that flutter decoratively and a tail like a rudder guiding his orientation. The pyramidal structure terminates with his head turned towards the sky. Made with a good heart and full emotion, this particular Pegasus becomes synonymous with the concept of liberty.

6.- Ismini Bonatsou (Kefalonia, b. 1964). Ecstasy, 2021. Graphite, charcoal, pastel and silk mounted on paper, 143 x 93 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Ismini Bonatsou believes that for the enslaved human the moment of acquiring the much-coveted liberty means ecstasy as divine transgression. This is the condition that Greece experienced when she rebelled against the Ottoman Empire in 1821 after four centuries of slavery. Thus, she wanted in her work to depict the moment of the transition from the event of victory to the state of absolute liberty. She chose to compose two symbols recognisable as Grecian with an ecumenical dimension. The basis of her work became the national flag of the 1st Hellenic Republic since 1822, with a white cross against a blue background. In the centre of the composition she placed the famous female figure from a photograph of Nelly’s, the Russian dancer Lila Nikolska, taken on the Acropolis of Athens, in November 1930. The work of the Asia Minor-born Nelly’s (1899-1998) is characterised by beauty, awareness and liberty. This particular photograph with the naked dancer in the air, well balanced with all the limbs of the body and gossamer veil forming an aura around her, was epoch-making and was admired in the Western world. This moment, for Bonatsou, is the ultimate personification of ecstasy. In her design, her black and white veil acquires blue highlights from the flag of victory. And the wonderful significance of ecstasy in the figure allows a slight upward shift of the flag’s holy cross. Viewed from nearby the flag indicates a wrinkled surface, a hint that liberty is acquired by fight, effort and struggle.

5.- Lamprini Boviatsou (Athens, b. 1975). Reconstruction of Liberty, 2021. Pencil and coloured pencils on canvas, 100 x 70. Courtesy of the Artist, Chania.

Lamprini Boviatsou is an Athenian who became an artist in Chania. As a child, she saw in her neighbourhood, in a part of the park, the fragments of an oversized statue left to their fate, which challenged her to reconstruct them. Seeking to learn the history of the statue, she noticed that the central axis of all the narratives was its modernist and paradoxical diversity, which provoked reactions and led to its destruction. The monumental sculpture, 17 metres high, was created in 1937 by the Smyrnaean sculptor Thomas Thomopoulos. It was erected on Profitis Elias and was facing towards the west of the city of Chania. It portrayed liberty as the goddess Athena and was dedicated to the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman yoke. With its monumental size it was visible from the ships that approached the port of the city. The sculptor from 1900 painted the marble in keeping with the practice of the ancients. Specifically, the Statue of Liberty had caused a sensation because it had huge blue eyes. The local community did not accept the statue and there were many critical comments that were published in the local press. It is said that it was destroyed by bad weather in 1968, but it more likely fell victim to the bad energy of the enemies of liberty, the junta in Greece. This story with the very symbolism that governs it and in fact at a time when everything in the world has been overturned, victimising above all the concept and the experience of liberty, impelled the artist to a desperate attempt to reconstruct the broken liberty within us. Because, while liberty takes effort and time to establish itself, an unfortunate moment may be enough for its collapse. It is even more difficult to restore it later. Through the strong light of its background, decisively emerges the figure of Liberty. Her rescued fragments are completed, where necessary, by limbs of the artist’s own body. A strange being emerged. The creator’s intention was not beauty, but vigilance about the defence of liberty, which is summed up in the reflections on her shield.

7.- Thodoros Brouskomatis (Katerini, b. 1963). Artificial Liberty, 2020. Digital print on aluminium, 50 x 65 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Thodoros Brouskomatis is keen on a pastiche of visual diachronicity and intertextuality. He appropriates a classical canvas to speak about the future via the past. For Artificial Liberty, he uses a characteristic work of Claude Lorrain entitled View of the Seaport of 1633, which is the result of the painter’s visionary landscape painting in a baroque mannerism. The landscape is flanked on the left by the upright remnant of an ancient temple and on the right by the wild nature that knows that the universe in due course will be subject to its power. The seaport hosts scattered galleys, even around a medieval tower that defines the centre of the picture. In the foreground, two sailors are flirting with a local woman. This familiar scene is orientalised by a conceptually incongruous collage. An airplane dominates the sky, peacocks decorate the vegetation, and oversized hibisci and a sterlitzia animate the forestage. Opposite the temple a censored pornstar of the Far East scandalises the viewers. On the top of the tower rises the Statue of Liberty of New York with the light of its torch radiating in the absolute centre of the composition. The mixing of disparate elements distorts the place and time, causing dizziness and chaos around the central reference point. Under the auspices of liberty, the lustful ecstasy anticipates lazily and defiantly its own exoneration.

8.- Kyriakos Chatzimichailidis (Thessaloniki, b. 1963). Resist, 2021. Video mp4, 2:30. Courtesy of the Non-Profit Civil Company t-shOrt, Athens.

The poet Michalis Katsaros (1919-1998) was a representative of the first post-war generation of Greek literature. He belonged to the romantic communists and wrote poems under the prims of the left wing politics. Being poor and downtrodden, he chose to live a totally ascetic life. His poem entitled My Covenant (1953) speaks with popular immediacy about the resistance that every man respecting himself must pursue towards everyday life, humility, servitude, solemnity, alienation, even the ascetic proposal of this very poem. Stripped from all the hypocrisy of social conventions, readers may put on Liberty – a dress that is a challenge for its huge size and unbearable weight. The film director Kyriakos Chatzimihailidis transferred the poetic work into a video to the delight of the viewers and the audience. With simple cinematic means – the graphics of the repeated imperative word as a background to the Dorian voice that recites the poem against The Rite of Spring (1913) of Igor Stravinsky – he announces to all the potential heirs of the covenant the ideal of Liberty.

9.- Manolis Charos (Kythira, b. 1960). Two Flames, 2021. Monotype on paper glued to aluminium, 120 x 90 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Dionysios Solomos in his work Dialogue, which he wrote in Zakynthos in 1824, says, “It calls for more than instructive words to avail a people, who fight for liberty which they lost for centuries, and create monsters! There are two flames, O teacher, one in the mind, the other in the heart, lit by nature in some people, who in different eras treat them in different ways to enjoy the same results”. This sentence is, for Manolis Charos, the definition of passion for liberty like the poet describes his dialogue with the most erudite one, with an intellectual of his time. In the 19th century the demand for liberty, a furthering of the demand for happiness as the French Revolution put it, runs through the people of Europe. Solomos highlights the relationship of liberty to the language of the people. He degrades the scholars who “fight for a reward to raise the language”, while he gives a major role to the informal and spontaneous language of the heroes who “shed their blood underneath the Cross to liberate us”. Furthermore, with reference to the flame, Solomos argues that the high struggle for liberty is a concern of the man that has an active mind and a healthy heart. This bipole had been indicated initially by Thales of Miletus who ruled that happy is the man “who is healthy by body, and wealthy by soul”. In his composition, Charos presents the two flames in a diagonal arrangement individually but also tangentially.

10.- Costis (Athens, b. 1950). Liberty demands both Virtue and Audacity, 2000. Found objects: tiller and protractor on a base of rubber. 90 x 22 x 22 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Believing that liberty is the highest good, for which every sacrifice is worthwhile, Andreas Kalvos wrote the legendary verse “liberty demands both virtue and audacity”. Costis is inspired by this verse in order to conceptually approach the issue of liberty that is acquired through struggles. He composes a work from found materials from the everyday life of a man of the sea and a scientist. A blue tiller, a lever that rotates the steering wheel in a boat, bears the name “Kalvos” and is based upright onto a square base that is oriented to the four cardinal points. On a wooden circular protractor he inscribes the said verse. Suspended diametrically by a loop, the protractor is hovering from the top of the tiller as a compass of some other orientation – internal, mental and divine. The public is invited to put the circle around its axis into motion in order to read the verse. The work defines the universal and timeless value of liberty through this free but also defined spin. With such directness and simplicity Costis familiarises the audience with the philosophy of liberty, which invites people to reflect on its significance and play an active role in its defence.

11.- Alexandros Dimitriadis (Volos, b. 1962). The Dream of Liberty, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 120 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

With The Dream of Liberty Alexandros Dimitriadis presents an imaginary landscape in a theatre setting. Straight tree trunks flank a serene sea. In the background, on both sides, there are mountains reminiscent of the two hemispheres of the human brain. A volcanic mass prevents the view of the horizon. As if just escaping from a fairy tale, in the centre of the picture appears a tiny Lilliputian figure trying to balance upright onto the back of a disproportionately larger bird with wide-open wings. Obviously, with eyelids lowered, the Lilliputian figure is dreaming between sleep and wakefulness. All seem as if time has stopped. He dreams of flying! The tendency of man to liberty is innate and of vital significance. The American “Great Agnostic” Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) wrote, “What light is to the eyes – what air is to the lungs – what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man”. Throughout the history of man, the search for liberty seems to be an elusive dream. Who is the truly free person? Liberty is an ecstatic experiential knowledge through innumerable paths of life. The Lilliputian figure of childhood innocence and the bird of the primal purity of the soul is that dream. Without this dream, life becomes an event of empty meaning, a hollow vessel thrown into infinity. Every human is potentially a protagonist in the dream of liberty.

12.- Milly Flamburiari (London, b. 1945). Corona-Liberty, 2021. Digital print on PVC, 122 x 66 cm. Courtesy of the Corfu Heritage Foundation, Corfu.

Contemplating a contemporary way of depicting the concept of liberty, Milly Flamburiari thought of updating the iconic Statue of Liberty (1875-1886) of Bartholdi, which presides in the namesake islet at the entrance of the port of New York. Since its inauguration it was made a symbol of maternal hospitality and hope for the banished, persecuted and immigrants everywhere, and an emblem of the United States of America, as a country that promotes liberty and human rights. The artist appropriated the contour of the sculpture – the Roman goddess Libertas on a pedestal, wearing a long tunic and crown with seven rays and holding on her raised hand the torch of Enlightenment and clutching on the other the tablet of the Declaration of Independence. In the interior of the internationally recognizable outline she chose to present an image of the opposite of its symbolism, namely non-liberty, as an ironic statement about its timelessly unfulfilled realisation, especially under the adverse contemporary conditions. Thus, she thought instinctively of the Coronavirus, the pandemic that caused a serious respiratory syndrome in humans when it was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and until 2021 tyrannised humanity with loss of life, social exclusion and financial disaster. Of course, in order to entertain the macabre theme of the pandemic, she used one of the extremely attractive digital images of the specific virus that stands out with psychedelic nuances against a bloody background.

13.- Dimosthenis Gallis (Athens, b. 1967). Liberation, 2021. Digital print on paper, 150 x 105 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

In his work entitled Liberation, Dimosthenis Gallis presents a metallic twisting staircase of an exterior space obliquely with a clear reference to the DNA helix, the structure of genetic material of chromosomes with unique characteristics that define any living organism. In the opposite upper part of the picture the feet of the man who acquired wings are just discernible, with reference to the Ptenopus (Winged-Foot) Hermes, the agile psychopompos. Although this composition could well comprise a metaphorical depiction of death, it refers rather to the liberation of consciousness, of the true essence of the person from the tyrannical mind. Through constant psychotherapeutic working with oneself, the person may tame the mind as the seat of the passions, of experiences, of obsessions and restrictive thoughts and feelings. Without it he is a prisoner of the weight of his existence. The practice of the psychoanalytic act reveals the invisible side of the analysed individual, which is all the most genuine within him. Psychologists and psychiatrists still use today the ancient Socratic irony and the maieutic method to make man confront the truth that would release him. Liberty is a universal good that is not given away but earned through painstaking and constant struggle. Every small conquest constitutes a step on the spiralling staircase of the person’s evolutionary course.

14.- Christos Garoufalis (Agrinio, b. 1959). Liberty Road, 2021. Oil on canvas, 72 x 58 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Agrinio.

Christos Garoufalis believes that knowledge, when it contributes to awareness, is the most authoritative passport for the transgression that leads to spiritual liberty. This message is both timely and timeless. So the painter himself is gazing at his own life with poetic disposition and ascetic simplicity. With divine inspiration and excellent technique, he stages the Liberty Road – three reverently selected books are available on the windowsill of a dark room with a window that overlooks the sunny valley and a bird fluttering in the heart of the sky. This life-giving light source, that is the sun, renders the whole world noticeable – the potential users of the road, the shadowy awareness, the transcendental window, the golden desert and the nebulised soul. The feathery friend in the middle of the composition encapsulates and summarises the ability of people to perceive, to claim and to gain liberty. The window is a common threshold for all people – a very valuable element of self-knowledge, but also a means for the passage of each one from the darkness to the light. This passage, however, is a complete odyssey. Clearly it concerns a wishful thinking that is easy to say, but hard to achieve. Besides, “liberty demands both virtue and audacity”. The melancholy that the whole of the work exudes captures the nostalgia of liberty and the bittersweetness for the unattainable dream.

15.- Nikos Giavropoulos (Thessaloniki, b. 1971). Liberty, 2021. Digital print on canvas within plexiglass, 70 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

The Liberty of Nikos Giavropoulos clearly refers to the painting Greece expressing Gratitude of 1858 that Theodoros Vryzakis created with a sense of national responsibility and patriotic pride. Appropriating the idea of the reference work, the artist was inspired by the filmic quality of the painting and conceptually transcribed it in a simple manner. He maintained the pyramidal composition of the multitude of heroes that culminates in the allegorical figure of Greece, but removed the whole of the rich composition, preserving only six elements in an equilateral triangular arrangement. At the base he set skulls, three in number to symbolise infinity and alike to indicate the common fate of death. In the middle, two men – one with hands tied behind him and the other liberated and in motion – indicate the transition from bondage to liberty. They are obviously naked according to the ancient Greek ideal of beauty. In the centre, above, rises the allegorical female figure of liberty, dressed in a white tunic and crowned with laurel. According to Vryzakis’ prototype, she raises her hands above the heroes as a sign of blessing. All these elements are distinguished by their brilliance against a totally black background, suggestive of the spaceless and timeless. Thus, the work recalls that the Greek Revolution became an inspiration for every country groaning under empires, occupations and protectorates, and became an example of victory in the struggle of self-determination as required by human rights. The narrative of the composition refers to the struggle for liberty as an idea with reference to the theosophical climaxing of fulfilment from the darkness of the lower world to the source of light at the apex.

16.- Stella Kapezanou (Athens, b. 1977). Liberty recollects the Greek Summer, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 180 x 154 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Liberty is a lure for the thinking man who respects himself and aspires to excel in life. Here, Liberty is nothing but the name of an everyday girl today who would just like to make friends. She is presented with a naked body that is detached from a a typical apartment setting with sofas and a television. The additional wings of an eagle on her back and the classic Corinthian capital where she is sitting are elements put forward on her by the spectators, out of a need to give her the opportunity to escape from reality as a personification of the concept of liberty. In any case, Liberty seems tired with the endless scenario of the Coronavirus, which tyrannised humanity during the production of the present project. Apparently she looks forward only to the arrival of Greek summer with drinks and a boyfriend on Mykonos. With a wry dose of irony, Stella Kapezanou uses her work to make an allusion to the lockdown of the pandemic, which caused depression to the whole wide world. In any case, the leaves of the orange tree in the background that cross the boundaries of the canvas intensify the sense of the necessary escape! It should be noted that the imposed programme of the Greek national vaccination at the time was called “Operation Liberty”.

17.- Vassilis Karakatsanis (Athens b. 1957). Distinct District No. 10, 2018. Acrylic, gouache and oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

In the series of works entitled Distinct District, Vassilis Karakatsanis captures the concept of liberty or redemption on the social level as mush as on the personal. He uses an experiential perspective, which also determines his style. Within an organic framework co-exist the senses of non-liberty at the lower part and of liberty at the upper part of the composition. The suffocating urban landscape as a concept of liberty deprivation owing to social, family, religious and aesthetic conventions, contradicts the buoyancy of insects that, through their joyful colourfulness, symbolically express the varying character and being of every person. In its essence, the composition deals conceptually with the reaction, escape and evasion of the individual from something that oppresses it. The artist finds the opportunity to reveal to the world his personal experience of his liberation from every kind of bond. In the upper perimeter of the work on the left a house in Ronda of southern Spain, on top the monastery of St George on the Castle of Skyros and on the right a house in Mykonos, concern the three places where the artist felt completely free and therefore happy.

18.- Harris Kondosphyris (Lesbos, b. 1965). Elefthoúrios Tsoliás, 2021. Installation: iron and sound, 50 x 80 x 50 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

“Now thy feet homewards toil / and they overswiftly roll / on the rock or on the soil / which thy glory do recall. / Overlowly it is bowing / triple-wretched thy sad head, / beggar. door to door who’s going / and their life a weight too dead. / Aye, but now they’re counterfiring / all thy seed with urge and mirth, / and they’re seeking firm, untiring / either victory or death.” (verses 13-15 of the Hymn to Liberty)

The Elefthoúrios Tsoliás of Harris Kondosphyris is a confined installation with low-key sound. The first word is an idiosyncratic composite derived from the war exclamation “eleleú” in Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus and the “thoúrios” which means a patriotic hymn. The second word “Tsolias” comes from the Turkish language and means rags because that is the way the Ottomans mockingly called the klephts (brigands) and armatoloi (guerrillas), wearing the fustanella, a kilt with 400 stitched pleats. The Elefthourios Tsolias is a savage beast that runs flabbergasted for his liberty on a stratified rendering of the Greek flag. The Greek hero jumps ecstatically upon layers of the national flag forming the bastion of liberty with trenches the lengths of its white strips. His huge stride, from one foot to the other, wearing the characterisitc tsarouchi (from the Turkish çarık), a shoe with a hard-soled and a large tassel, is evocative of the glory. The defensive flight and aggressive defence occur on a landscape formed from the sacred ennead (group of 9 syllables) of stripes of the Greek flag, of which each represents a sequential letter of the phrase “elefthería í thánatos” (liberty or death) in Greek. It concerns an installation of a thourios. The ravaged hero is thrown in the momentum of victorious liberty and fearlessly drags a dance of death decisively forward with shouts and cheers. Liberty is a brash, outspoken, heated and perpetual Pyrrhic dance around death. The free one is a beast who by defying death beats slavery. The rebellious one dances in the unsecured area of the others’ sovereignty in the secured area of death. At the same time, an audio of excerpts is heard in the form of the wind from the memoirs of the Macedonian fighter Nikolaos Kasomoulis (1795-1872) about the exodus of Missolonghi.

19.- Aggelika Korovessi (Pyrgos, b. 1952). Sound-Saws of Liberty, 2021. Wood and steel, 3: 14 x 48-60 x 3 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Dionysios Solomos wrote in the Dialogue (1824): “Have I anything else in my mind but liberty and the language?” The language gives words as navigation tools for man who, out of respect for himself and his surroundings, is seeking liberty. Encouraged by the Solomic idea, a prime defender of liberty, Aggelika Korovessi created the Sound-Saws of Liberty that are offered to cut the shackles of mental slavery. She turned into tools the words of the five concepts that language highlights as ammunition for the struggle of liberty – Aspiration, Self-Esteem, Courage, Subversion and Virtue. These concepts, which the language has turned into words, become tools of thought. She recorded their sound-graph and rendered it into a double-edged saw with each edge representing the vibration of each concept, in order to break the invisible shackles of the soul. The Sound-Saws symbolise the power that the tongue gives to man for his spiritual and mental liberty. The opportunity to acquire liberty is at the disposal of every responsible person. But the road to liberty requires “the terrible cutting edge of thy keen sword”. Having available the sharp concepts of the Sound-Saws, their operators can switch from introspection to absolute liberation.

20.- Vassiliki Koskiniotou (Athens, b. 1968). Land of Liberty, 2021. Oil and oil pastel on canvas, 120 x 120 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Vassiliki Koskiniotou poetically represents the fertile soil of the fecund land under the precious light of liberty, as evidenced by the title of her work. She drew inspiration from the poem Hymn to Liberty of Dionysios Solomos, “Ah, the bright light that bedecks thee / like the crown around sun’s girth / grandly sheens afar perplexing, / no, it isn’t from this earth / All of thee a blazing splendour / everything lip, forehead, eye / sheens thy leg, thy forearm and more / all around thee is in light” (verses 94 and 95). The work is an attempt to visualise the hot breeze of liberty that may offer sweet fruits after bitterest labours, as well as a reference to the flame that every act of creation contains, every creative joy that springs from the painstaking preoccupation with the work. The bright metalic colours of silver and gold that she uses here refer to the verses, which in their turn refer to the very precious light of the won liberty. In the middle of the painting, the painter engraved her favourite verses from verse 95 with reference to the transformation of the body into light. The creation-matrix clearly revels with arrows in constant flux. This whole picture is a promise of regeneration and an expectation of prosperity, an ecstatic light step towards liberty.

21.- Nikos Kryonidis (Xanthi, b. 1963). Liberty Or…, 1972/2021. Digital print on aluminium and found packaged toys, 75 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Lola Nikolaou Art Gallery, Thessaloniki.

The groundbreaking artist Nikos Kryonidis submits as a contemporary work a memoir from his personal life – a typical snapshot from a school event to commemorate the 25th of March 1972 at the local cinema/theatre, when he was nine. The photograph is black and white and presents a series of ten students in a line each of which holds one consecutive capital letter of the word “liberty”. The artist himself holds the letter “R”. Besides the moment’s spontaneity, the picture is charged with many elements – male students of different classes based on criteria of their conventional appearance have been selected; they are dressed in uniform and conservative manner; and placed along a line by height. Remembering the past, the viewer brings nostalgically to mind the period towards the end of military dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974), where the students throughout the schools in the country were indoctrinated with high ideals and the patriotic slogan, “homeland – religion – family”. Today, in the age of globalisation, all these seem foreign – patriotic manifestations are disappearing and the students have by definition rights regardless of their social, economic, political and personal situation. The artist does not take a critical position in the evolution of things. As a passive observer of radical changes, he notes that the only thing that remains unchanged is the second part of the historical motto, avoided in the title, which every mind identifies with the concept of the dictatorship. From the photograph are hanging transparent pockets with seasonal games of the time against colourful cards. They are seven in number – as many as the letters of the word “death” in Greek.

22.- Kostas Lavdas (Athens, b. 1980). She Arrived Heaven-Sent, 2016. Acrylic and egg tempera on canvas, 190 x 190 cm. Courtesy of Alma Gallery, Athens.

Kostas Lavdas wants his works to operate as an opportunity for personal and collective self-awareness, which is an arduous but liberating process. With his work She Arrived Heaven-Sent he mocks the eschatological manner in which some portion of the left expects the advent of the Revolution. Tzimis Panousis (1954-2018) had noted with his known caustic humour how the Red Revolution, which people expected to arrive from the heavens, would burst onto the Earth as a meteorite. Here Lavdas presents the divine matrix instead of the hand of God, at the corner of the sky, giving birth to the hope and sending it to the people. Connected to the umbilical cord, she hovers beyond the house of convenience of organised society, on the clouds. She appears as a sex bomb in red over an army of men whose head just about emerges from a can. Unlike the inorganic bodies of men, the woman has a shapely body bearing rich and fancy dress. With an ultimate goal to make the world a better place, she intends to give hands and feet to the puppets who aspire to become humans. As the embodiment of Liberty, such a high and important good, the woman has an angry face with a serious gaze and a severe mouth. Liberty will be owned by any dummy that will surpass himself and dares to acquire her after tremendous struggles and terrifying sacrifices. The work of Lavdas satisfies the feeling of uneasiness, leaving the issue of liberty open.

23.- Agalis Manessi (Corfu, b. 1952). Manto gazing at Liberty, 2021. Glazed terracotta, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, London.

The national anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 led Agalis Manessi to be inspired by the philhellenic plates with portraits of heroes who fought for liberty. She chose to illustrate Manto Mavrogenous (1796-1848), an emancipated woman who with her actions and ways gave everything for the struggle of the delivery of Greece from the Ottoman Empire. For her overall contribution she was honoured by the Greek state with the degree of the lieutenant general. She was one of the most important fighters of the Revolution of 1821 and was of a wealthy family. For her work, the ceramist relied on the portrait of Manto of 1826 by the Danish philhellene officer Adam Fridel (1786-1865). The transfer was done with the direct and spontaneous style of the artist. The face of the heroine became the epicentre of an installation, where the gaze of the sitter turns beyond the boundary of the plate towards the broader concept of liberty. At the same time, numerous blue eyes, painted on shards of clay, surround in complete circular order the face of the heroine. On the occasion of the sublime heroine Manto, the ceramist highlights in her work the greatness any individual may achieve regardless of gender. The fact is that by their example, all the heroines of 1821 contributed greatly to the emancipation of women.

24.- Panayiotis Masonidis (Nicosia, 1943- 1994). Study for the Statue of Liberty, 1975. Acrylic plaster, 66 x 24 x 20 cm. Courtesy of the Masonidis Bequest, Corfu.

Panayiotis Masonidis was born in Cyprus and was active in Greece. As a student of Athanase Apartis, he studied the figurative genre and the monumental depiction of figures, but he followed a personal course towards a symbolic expressionism with abstract tendencies. During the Turkish invasion of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, Masonidis lived in Athens. On the occasion of the weakening of Cyprus by the Junta of Athens, Turkey found an opportunity not only to invade but also to colonise. This was a form of repression of the liberty of both the Greeks and the Cypriots. The loss of northern Cyprus and the fallen compatriot fighters caused bitterness in his heart, and a trauma in his soul. Feeling a deep need to express himself through art he created a sculpture for the liberty of Cyprus and by extension of every oppressed people and individual. His work was based on numerous studies that are clearly inscribed with the indication “Liberty”. It is a small study for a large monument, which the art-loving mayor of Corfu Spyros Rath (1902-1983) envisioned at the political changeover in the centre of the Town Hall Square. It presents a female figure dressed in a tunic that completely covers her body so that she looks compact. The imagination of the viewer identifies her hidden hands with her wings, which look like endings of her wavy robe. Her face with the deliberately melted features endows the figure with a dimension beyond space and time. Despite its unfinished quality, the sculpture masterfully expresses the sense of liberty with breath and spirit. The reference to the winged goddess Nike of Samothrace, which famously inspired also Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space of 1913, is obvious.

25.- George Megoulas (Evia, b. 1955). Construction – Deconstruction, 2014. Porcelain and enamel, 86 x 54 x 44 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Corfu.

George Megoulas comes from an aristocratic Corfiot family with respect for roots, the past and tradition. He recognises that now, as in every period, people are called to overthrow the status quo. Today, globalisation is being pitted against capitalism. Inspired by the Venetian influence that persists in Corfu, he created furniture on feet in the Baroque style, with curved edges, inflated sides and spiralling finials. Initially it looked like an ideal monument for an ark of values. Subsequently, driven by the current spirit of liberation from social conventions and the established order, he broke the mould in four quadrants with a cross and shifted the parts so that they balance on the base. In a similar fashion he shredded a classical head in five horizontal sections and shifted them so that they form an open arch as a crown of the composition. Having learned from Western academicism, the current time of change inspires him to surpass rules venturing a transgression towards liberalisation. So his work advances from the construction of the past, via the deconstruction of the present, towards the reconstruction of the future. Surprisingly, the final composition, clearly advanced, masterfully augments in new terms the prior delight in form, light and technique.

26.- Dimitris Miliotis (Corfu, b. 1961). Liberty, 2021. Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Corfu.

The work of Dimitris Miliotis is concerned with metamorphosis, as an endless succession of transient states of the object. Here, where the object is the concept of freedom, he imagines her as an anthropomorphic dragonfly trying to move forward and upward, with the help of her hands, feet but also with her clear and strong wings that give impetus to her every movement. His intention was to record not a specific moment of this effort, but the passage of all the moments in time during the movement. The work presents collectively a selection of all these relevant temporal moments. They are records and traces of movements of liberty on a sunny surface. This figure does not reflect the movement towards liberty. It is liberty herself, her embodiment. And as liberty she moves everywhere and always and in all directions, leaving in her wake only her blue trail. The composition pulsates with a freedom of movement with an erotic pulse. It is reminiscent of a saying of Voltaire: “Liberty of thought is the life of the soul”.

27.- Ioannis Monogyios (Kavala, b. 1965). Secret Garden, 2021. Linographs hung on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Thessaloniki.

The Secret Garden by Ioannis Monogyios is a conceptual work that is activated through the alchemical relation of text and image. The greater part of the composition has a light green colour, which expresses an illusory state. The scarce fiery hue, which coincides with the awareness, tears the illusory surface and touches the spiritual dimension of the essence of the work. The four corners of the composition present the absinthium, a plant with the bitter taste of life, that has the capacity to sedate. In the intermediate space of the corners scattered verses from the Liberté (1942) poem of Paul Éluard in the original French and Greek translation are presented. The text of the poem was printed with stamps letter by letter, in an admittedly compulsive, but in conclusion liberating process. On the base of the composition, bones symbolise death, which is the common fate of every life. A head at the centre of the composition symbolises the human intellect and also carries the third eye of intuition that gives spiritual guidance and a mantra in Tibetan that psychologically leads to liberation. The head hovers with the wings of a butterfly that symbolises transformation. Directly below two hands support the caduceus of Hermes with the fiery axis of the world as a passage through which one can get to the truth beyond life – that is liberty. This point is located in the cerebral space of the head as the secret garden with the warm hues of the pyre. For the artist, the purpose of existence is the transcendence of reality within which people live with the goal of inner liberty that is cultivated in the secret garden of the mind.

28.- Konstantinos Patsios (Athens, b. 1977). On the glass of surprises I write your name, 2021. Collage on canvas, 200 x 150 cm. Courtesy of Alma Gallery, Athens.

According to the model of the surrealists, in search of unusual ways of inspiration, Konstantinos Patsios created an oversized collage using free association and automatic creation. His pursuit was the liberation of the unconscious, the source of psychic energy and the cradle of stimuli from logical, social and aesthetic rules. This present work is inspired by the poem Liberté of Paul Éluard and its title incorporates the refrain “I write your name”. The composition has a Dionysian dimension of chromatic ecstasy. The ecstasy is rendered through the composition of heterogeneous objects and the counterpoint of the void with the full. A fresh fingerprint in the open space maintains the balance of the composition’s upper completeness. Elements, such as the ancient beauty of classical sculpture and the self-portrait of Theophilos with the Greek flag, demonstrate the intention of the artist to compose various excerpts of the collective past. Balloons and exotic birds defying gravity interact with skulls that have now been rid of the burden of existence, under the relentless gaze of the Roman goddess Libertas. The composition is a palimpsest of snapshots that comprise attempts of the creator to portray liberty. Extensive are the references to classical art and the vanitas (a genre in art referring to mortality), which imply all moments of human history, when the certainty of death and the futility of earthly pleasures is confronted by the indestructible struggle for liberty, that is immortality.

29.- Margarita Petrova (Athens, b. 1979). Zalongo, 2021. Mixed media: silver prints, oil on paper and papyrus, 116 x 93 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

The primary concern of Margarita Petrova was how can one landscape that is charged with historical memory and is a symbol of liberty be displayed. The special case of Zalongo is one of the most shocking incidents in the modern history of Greece. On 18 December 1803, after the occupation of Souli by the troops of Ali Paşa, 63 women who had taken refuge at the western end of Mount Zalongo decided to die free rather than fall into the hands of Muslim Albanians. They preferred instead of dishonour and captivity to throw their children into the cliff and then to follow themselves, even dancing their way, causing great excitement and admiration throughout Europe. So, Zalongo is a deeply emotional place through its history. Its rocks became a memorial for the liberty of Souli. The Souliotes expressed through their swan song in a unique way the concept of liberty. Thus, the artist created through her work a composition that contains the closed shapes of the black and white photographs in order to come into contrast with the pictorial elements that create tension. The shapes are liberated from the borders of the landscape, making free new places, which nevertheless at the same time contain the tragedy of loss and sacrifice. The horizontal stripes of photographed land create the sense of reality and the actual historic site. Amongst them the painted spots take their place in this landscape and are gradually released from below towards the top to indicate that unlike the fall, liberty has an upward trend, the dematerialisation that reaches beyond the painted sky in order to unite with the sanctity of the universe.

30.- Lena Platonos (Greece, b. 1951). Do Not Disturb My Circles, 1991. Courtesy of Akti Company, Athens.

Faced with a Roman soldier that eventually took his life, the legendary last words of Archimedes, the greatest mathematician and inventor of antiquity, was “Do not disturb my circles!” Despite probably being a construct, it is included in the Quotations Register as a phrase attributed to him. It reveals the culmination of the absorption of a genius despite his imminent death. In the album entitled by this phrase in Greek, “Mi Mou tous Kyklous Tarate”, of 1991 by Lena Platonos, the voice of the composer is heard inquiring who is the truly free man. And she answers enigmatically at the end, “it is he who crashed the mirrormakers”. Let it be noted that the mirrormakers is the labyrinth of mirrors dealing with the visible idols that tend to disorientate the uninitiated and inexperienced man. By crashing the mirrormakers, the elder hermit may see the true light in the darkness, which is the essence of liberty. For Platonos, liberty is identified with love, as a concept of the union of psyche and eros. This union opposes any disruption, especially of enmity, hatred and malice. The image on the album’s jacket shows the planet Earth in motion in space. The figure of the composer folds her arms nude on its movement. She is interested in the nudity of the truth, not the flesh. Symbols come into orbit around her as subjects she wishes for or against. A heart with a barcode prevails that refers to the clearance sale of emotions, the transformation of man into a product. The album is for love and against capitalism and speaks of humility as opposed to arrogance. At the end of the title song, the composer cites the Socratic paradox, “I know that I know nothing”.

31.- Marina Provatidou (Thessaloniki, b. 1978). Liberty gave wings to Icarus, 2021. Woodcut, linolaeum and intaglio on paper, 66 x 53 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Thessaloniki.

The figure of Liberty today is a Nike without wings. She is a simple woman, but has so much power within her that whenever she wishes she wears her wings and takes off. She is fighting for the survival of the people around her, for the tolerance of diversity, for equality of the rights for all. Marina Provatidou, as if photographing herself, represents the concept of freedom on the acropolis of Thessaloniki – the Heptapyrgion – fortress of the Paleologoi. The Ottomans turned this space into Yedi Kule, one of the toughest prisons where innocent civilians were held, amongst guilty ones, in all the periods of slavery that this land experienced – Ottoman rule, German Occupation and Civil War. There were tortured activists and outcasts, exiles and objectors, intellectuals and illiterates, all people with a mutual desire for freedom. In this space charged with mental anguish, the woman-symbol of liberty appears to be wearing a long blue dress and raises her hands in order to balance on a thin bridge of measure and limits, as she wavers “between divine and human justice” according to the writer Alexandros Papadiamantis. She tries to lead her life by observing the midline of things, the one that bridges differences and witnesses the way to calm the passions of yesterday, today and tomorrow. She walks steadily forward upon the ruler of pure truth and defends the human nature of the prisoners of the place of martyrdom. With the confidence of shut eyes, she is “counting fast the lands restored”, ignoring the threat of death and the fear of emptiness. She walks on the edge against the blue and white sky, delivered from the weights, measures and standards that imprison the contemporary world. She feels proud of what she has achieved as an independent woman, trying to balance situations within the roles she plays in life. She believes that freedom is the highest good for which it is worth fighting at all costs. For this reason, while walking she remembers the myth of Icarus, who lost his life realising albeit momentarily his dream.

32.- Rania Rangou (Athens, b. 1970). Exodus, 2021. Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

The Exodus of Rania Rangou concerns a visual transcription. The painter was inspired by the monumental painting The Execution of Torrijos and his Companions on the Beach at Málaga of 1888 by Antonio Gisbert (1834-1901). With the slogan “Fatherland – Liberty – Independence” and aiming at the end of absolutism, the Spanish liberal revolutionary leader José-María Torrijos (1791-1831) and 60 followers were arrested and executed in Málaga by loyalist authorities without trial, by order of King Fernando VII of Spain. With his martyrdom, Torrijos became the archetype of the struggle against despotism and tyranny. The painter appropriated the figure of Torrijos, with the epic kindness and calm that characterises him as a romantic hero. She pulled it from the traumatic moment of firing squads of the past and placed it therapeutically in the centre of an endless seascape with mere reference to the point that it curves towards a brighter direction. Unlike the heroic past, today’s anonymous protagonist realises the historicity of himself as a passive experience or a Netflix show. As a new “Torrijos” he may be redeemed from his bonds, maintaining his delicate smile. Instead of weapons, he is accompanied on one side by the hand of his comrade and on the other side by the living flame of the struggle for liberty. Today, when death is meaningless, the challenge is the liberation from material passivity towards a spiritual ascension.

33.- Dimitris Sevastakis (Samos, b. 1960). Second Memory, 2013-2021. Mixed media: graphite on paper and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

For Dimitris Sevastakis, “Second Memory” is the free intake, the quirky understanding of the narrated fact, surrendered and secondarily experienced. It is what establishes the personal memory. It is, therefore, the free and unbiased movement between historical fact and its personalisation. The work consists of an old profile self-portrait in conversation with four new designs of emblematic persons of the Greek liberation struggle. These designs originate in the lithographs of Bavarian officer Karl Krazeisen (1794-1878) of portraits of the most famous heroes of 1821, whom he knew personally and painted from life. Sevastakis drew Kolokotronis, Miaoulis and Karaiskakis, but also included the philhellene engraver himself based on a photograph of his. The painter moved between two factual fields – his own portrait and his mnemonic references. He also experimented with two ways of narrative – self-portraiture with elements of expressionism and a condensed design by graphite with reference to the engravings of the 19th century. The concept of liberty for the painter lies in his expressive fluency between methods and techniques. He developed the composition on a black background as indefinite and permissible, without documentary distractions. Through the reference to the national liberation movement, the various languages and idioms, he compiled a personal project of liberty, that is, an essential autobiography.

34.- Vasilis Solidakis (Crete, b. 1948). Taming the Chimera, 2021. Oil and charcoal on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Liberty is known as a theoretical concept, but is an extremely difficult challenge as an experiential act. The work Taming the Chimera of Vassilis Solidakis refers to a universal legend. In ancient Greek mythology the Chimera describes a composite creature with three heads, one for each temptation – goat for lust, snake for intoxication and lion for arrogance. The new generation, after the rebellious decade of the ’60s, was celebrating this exact problem with the widespread slogan “sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll”. Obviously it is a huge challenge to overcome one’s temptations. If he manages to tame them, however, he will be able to gain the substantial liberty that will provide the necessary condition for the acquisition of knowledge and self-awareness. With that in mind, the artist presents an enlightened man to have tamed the untameable Chimera – a truly paradoxical spectacle and theme. The art, however, has every right to imagination. The background carries the whole spectrum of the colours of Iris – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. It is no wonder that the rainbow became known as a symbol of liberty and diversity by the gay artist Gilbert Baker in 1978.

35.- Tita Stavrou (Athens, b. 1958). Deceitful Liberty, 2021. Mixed media: acrylic, clay, wood, objects and electric lamp, 45 x 42 x 15 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Athens.

Tita Stavrou is concerned for the weak people who are seeking liberty. Starting from bewilderment on the subject, she identified with the current generation and its perceptions, aiming unconscionably for an internal transcendence. By reading again the whole Hymn to Liberty of Dionysios Solomos she realised that it describes not a national fact but an internal human condition, verging on psychoanalysis. On plain blotting paper she wrote anew by pen eight out of the 158 stanzas with genuine emotional charge rather than intellectual clarity, and set them as a pillar on either side of the window on a re-appropriated iconostasis. On the lower level of the composition, the subconscious, she stored five bags representing knowledge loaded with energies of good and evil. From every bag begins a red thread and all of them meet at a ring of the unconscious on the upper level of the composition, the conscious. On that ring is recorded human heredity with chromosomes and genes, and that determines the flight of the human figure with the wing trying to incorporate itself into the emotional landscape of the background. Opposite from the unconscious rises the spinning top of fortune with a crack, something that acts uncontrollably. The iconostasis of being stages its innate tendency towards liberty. The bell on the door will betray whomever attempts to penetrate liberty. The title “Deceitful Liberty” originates in the 21st stanza of the Hymn, which refers to the futility of what one would say to someone who betrays him while worshiping him. Living in the post-revolutionary climate in Greece, Solomos would certainly contemplate the triumph of liberty if the ravage of civil strife was eliminated.

36.- Petros Stravoravdis (Corfu, b. 1949). An Angel for Liberty, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 90 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Corfu.

In the course of time, the Corfiots encountered a number of settlers and conquerors –Eretrians, Corinthians, Romans, Byzantines, Genoese, Venetians, French, Russians and English – until the long-awaited union with Greece in 1864. During the longest period of the Venetian rule (1204-1797) the Catholics forced the Orthodox to have on their island a protopapas instead of a bishop. In fact, often the poor people of Corfu were oppressed by the regimes and the conditions, as the pen of Konstantinos Theotokis (1872-1923) reveals. For this reason Petros Stravoravdis expresses a reservation about the issue of liberty in his hometown. In his work he presents, in an abstract manner, a rather pulsating view of the old city, confusing basic non-iconic forms and high-rise apartment buildings. The belfry of the Metropolis and the New Fortress with the Greek flag are characteristically discerned. Above the rooftops rises the Angel of Giuseppe Torretti (1664-1743), which since the end of the Ottoman siege in 1716 announces an expectation of wider liberation. However, the vert amande, which vacillates between the green and blue colours, obliquely penetrates the composition. He underlines an ironic comment that absolute liberty exists never and nowhere. Furthermore, the red colour on the belfry flows downwards as an open wound on religious ideals. However, despite such reasonable doubts, the truth is that Corfu contributed to the liberation of Greece in its Ionian way – the Neohellenic Enlightenment and the national Hymn to Liberty.

37.- Praxitelis Tzanoulinos (Tinos, b. 1955). Liberty/Nike, 1983. Bronze, 110 x 38 x 46 cm. Courtesy of the Vasilis Mouchtaris Collection, Athens.

In 1983 Praxitelis Tzanoulinos qualified for the National Artistic Sculpture Contest on the theme “Liberty/Peace” for his work that since then adorns the junction of Poseidonos and Thiseos Avenues in Kallithea. He was awarded again for the same work by Menelaos Pallantios on behald of the Academy of Athens in 1987. It concerns an expansive monumental composition that celebrates the concept of liberty and peace intellectually and abstractly. The present sculpture Liberty/Nike is a key part of the whole and is a working model for the said monument. With classical origins, it presents the female allegorical figure of Liberty/Nike putting her chest forward as if it were for a running competition. Combined, the wavy tunic at the feet and the wing that targets the stars, form a relentless stretched bow, armed with invisible cosmic energy. She is moving dynamically forward, ripping the wind as a sword with momentum and a turning in space, like the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Inspired by the Solomic verse “From the sacred bones, of the Hellenes arisen”, she is made from a basic frame of clay with enough flesh as to protect something greater than her body, her heart, which is the core of every hero. She has lost in the battle the one of her two wings, but she raises her head proudly for what is most important – her vital and beating soul.

39.- Katia Varvaki (Athens, b. 1957). The Garment of Liberty, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 110 x 110 cm. Courtesy of Astrolavos Gallery, Athens.

With The Garment of Liberty Katia Varvaki subconsciously travelled in the historical past of modern Greece and created a work that bridges the various eras and reconciles their oppositions. The composition began with the laurel-crowned head of the protagonist in the work Greece expressing Gratitude of 1858 by Theodoros Vryzakis. This sweet female face, that is herewith baptised Liberty, was calling for a change of style. That is why her body was influenced by a photograph of Aris Velouchiotis (1905-1945), communist leader of the Greek People’s Liberation Army, riding a horse at Epirus around 1943. Thus, she appears delivered from femininity, reinforced with masculinity as a guerilla with a shirt, greatcoat and cross-strung bandolier for bullets, with reference to the mother of the artist, who belonged to the United Panhellenic Organisation of Youth of Thessaly. She is represented with a contemporary rifle and bayonet, just like Marianne in the painting Liberty leading the People (1830) by Delacroix. This point refers to the wild and hard struggle for liberty. In the lower part, however, the fluffy dress restores her lost femininity. Here the fabric in flesh tones suggests the purity of virtue. Associatively, the picture is placed in a field that includes a dissolved white lily, a symbol of violated virginity. Above it flutters the black crow of death that is consistent with liberty. The sky is rendered expressionistically with alternating shades of blue and orange. The picture is full of counterpoints with reference to the transcendental twin poles in the lyrics of Kalvos “liberty demands both virtue and courage”, which is faintly inscribed on the clouds.

38.- Chryssa Vathianaki (Heraklion, b. 1964). Flag, 2021. Embroidery technique on found flag, 67 x 92 ἐκ. Courtesy of the Artist, Heraklion.

Chryssa Vathianaki was inspired by The Crucifixion, a masterpiece of about 1480 by the Cretan icon painter Andreas Pavias (1440-1512). She focused on a detail that is located at the top of the composition, exactly above the cross of martyrdom. There, a nest is depicted on which a stork pierces its chest to spill its blood and nourish with it its three offsprings. The representation states allegorically the sacrifice of Christ in order to save man from the original sin. The artist transcribed the particular pattern with embroidery as a theme in her own work, which appropriates an old family heirloom, the Greek flag. She also completed the scene with the nest as the culmination of the tree of life and two snakes to wind up either side of the trunk threatening to devour the chicks. Adapting the scene to the heart of the cross of the Greek flag, the stork, a bird of exemplary family life, refers to the self-sacrifice of the heroes of the Revolution of 1821, who gave up their lives fighting their powerful enemies. At the same time, the new Flag reminds the future generations of the ancient Greek “Pelasgic law”, the repayment for nourishment received from the loving children to the parents.

40.- Andreas Zymvragos (Chania, b. 1962). Of the Living and the Dead, 2017. Charcoal and pastel on paper pasted on PVC, 96 x 68 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Chania.

The work Of the Living and the Dead by Andreas Zymvragos, aside from being a tribute to the heroes who were sacrificed for liberty, could be seen as an attempt to visually depict the verses from The Axion Esti (1959) of Odysseus Elytis: “A solitary swallow and a costly spring, / For the sun to turn it takes a job of work, / It takes a thousand dead sweating at the wheels, / It takes the living also giving up their blood”. High, as a culmination, a branch of spring for the living and the free like the swallows in the open sky. At the base a candle stand is dedicated to the dead heroes. At the centre, the symbol of their struggles, the Greek flag worn out today, disrespected and discredited in the minds of their descendants, she too a victim of the confusion that characterises the present, as a result of deliberate distortion of the true content of the concepts of the homeland, nation, democracy or liberty. National independence is the cornerstone for the exercise of any other form of free expression – individual, collective, internal or spiritual. And it is all the nations that are threatened today by the destructor of financial globalisation imposed by the international market that with the pseudo-ideological order of multiculturalism threatens peoples with homogenisation and disappearance of every collective memory, and thus identity and existence. Globalisation is the new fascism that threatens nations today with extinction and to beat it they should reflect upon the self, the history and the collective memory. Thus they might be able to face again, freely, the heaven of their own homelands.

Poster curated by Dimosthenis Gallis for “Ex-Staseis” (vertical)
Poster curated by Dimosthenis Gallis for “Ex-Staseis” (horizontal)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.