Greek landscape (possibly view of Thermos) signed in Greek (lower right) oil on cardboard 50 x 58.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Athens.
This remarkable painting, hitherto unpublished and unknown to scholars, is an important addition to Maleas's oeuvre. Unanimously acknowledged as the great master of Greek landscape painting and one of the most important figures in Modern Greek art, Maleas entrusts his subject to the truth of vision, venturing to penetrate into the inner world of the landscape, become part of its reality and then recompose it with freedom and creativity. A restless mind, he travelled extensively in mainland and insular Greece during the 1920s, attentively studying the defining features of this age-old land. "Wherever he discovered a viewpoint that met his aesthetic criteria, he immediately engaged in an exhaustive discourse with nature that didn't end before he captured all its chromatic brilliance and radiating poetry." 1 "The countless sense impressions he gathered during these travels are orchestrated in a poetic dream, reflecting not the world of appearances but the way he wanted to see, feel and experience the natural environment." 2
Greek landscape probably belongs to the painter's 1921 series at the province of Aetolia and particularly Thermos, a region he explored during that summer together with the young Klearchos Loukopoulos, the son of his dear friend and distinguished scholar D. Loukopoulos. (Compare Thermos, Athens, National Gallery, and Aetolian landscape, Ioannina, Municipal Gallery). 3 According to art historian A. Kotidis who prepared the monograph on the artist, "in each and everyone of these landscapes the visual field is presented as a comprehensive system of curvilinear elements through which all representational motifs are consistently rendered - from the largest (mountains, ground, clumps of trees) to the smallest (slope vegetation, ground rocks, etc.) This kind of formal organization, enlivened by sharp outlines and bold colouring, produces a robust, rhythmic outcome. As a result, although there is evidently no intent for realistic detail, the textural quality of form is unquestionable." 4
In its celebration of the curvilinear, Greek landscape recalls the influential aesthetic writings of P. Yannopoulos on the unique line of the Greek outdoors, which set the theoretical basis for the quest of 'Greekness': "It is obvious that this one single line, ascending most gently, descending most sweetly, undulating in great, calm waves, rising harmoniously and sliding symmetrically, creates beautiful, rounded shapes, occasionally soaring upwards with vigorous, adolescent agility only to return with a seagull's lightness to a gentle rhythm." 5
1. S. Lydakis, 'Constantinos Maleas' [in Greek] in The Greek Painters - 20th Century (vol. 2), Melissa publ., Athens 1975, pp. 61-62. 2. D. Papastamos, 'The Representation of Nature by Constantinos Maleas' [in Greek] in Constantinos Maleas, exh. cat., National Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens, 1980, p.13 . 3. Illustrated in A. Kotidis, Constantinos Maleas [in Greek], Athens 2000, pp. 176-177, 179). 4. Kotidis, p. 178. 5. P. Yannopoulos, 'The Greek Line' [in Greek], Anatoli magazine, March 1903, reprinted in P. Yannopoulos, The Greek Line, Ermias publ., Athens 1991, pp. 80-81.