Requiem for a homeland? The sculpture art of Theodoros Papayiannis combines various and disparate elements: Deploying of both folk and scholar tradition as well as experimentation referring to the modern movement and the great conquests of the 20th century, a sense of monumental, doric order, and, very often, the consciousness of that tacit drama which constitutes also the essence of art.
I would call it drama and at the same time consciousness of history. In this exhibition, the artist once again directs an insinuating, theatrical environment without using words, with the circle dance of the imposing “xoana” starring just as in the Attic tragedy. With a fallen – defeated? – figure in the centre – maybe the exhausted homeland? – and twelve gods, heroes, oracles, mourners, or prophets around it to contemplate its Fate, our destiny. Lamentum, Pietà and Requiem through matter and forms.
Papayiannis always knew how to combine ephemerality with infinity, the history with the myth, politics with symbolism in his work, without resorting to easy slogans or clichéd representations. His forms emerging from the distant past and moving bravely forward, towards the future they do not conceal, nor do they reveal but, they mainly signify. Their imposing presence and their enigma are their protection. Their defence against easy interpretations. These ideas have been preoccupying him for a long time and often forms them with different faces – masks, different contents but always with the same anguish about his homeland and its fate. One of the most important moments of these ideas of the sculptor was the exhibition “My Ghosts”, which was presented in 2012 at the Benaki Museum with the warm support of the late Angelos Delivorias.
Since then, many other relevant exhibitions have been held with the latest being the current one titled “Requiem for a Homeland” at Yiali Tzami in Chania, which, I think, reflects the thoughts and works of almost thirty years. Already since November 1993, when the debris and wooden skeletons from the National Technical University and the School of Fine Arts led him to create his first Xoana. How has since this homeland which never dies but is so often flirting with death moved forward? How do we all move forward? This exhibition finally symbolically offers bread and salt to the visitor. It is the bread of Communion or of the commemorative suppers, along with life, with the salt of life. The salt that brings happiness to life. A thank-you by the sculptor for the hospitality in this significant time for our country and of course an offering of hope. Hope for the country and generations to come. For the art that comforts and purifies. Is that enough? It falls on you to answer…
ΥΓ. P.S. ~ΕΡΕΒΟΣ-EREBUS
the darkest hour of my soul
I shall present thin verses
cordoned off by an unexpected tempest
that fatally wounded
my once timid sunrise.
These verses will tell a lot
you’ll see, you’ll read them
only the last one
won’t say anything
but upon seeing the verses above it
it will lament.
Kiki Dimoula (poem translated by Manolis Aligizakis)
9/6/2019 Manos Stefanidis, Ass. Professor at the University of Athens