Nanny in the park (Pedio Areos) signed in Greek (lower right) oil on card 19 x 25 cm.
Painted c. 1935-40.
Literature: Antonis Kotidis, Triantafyllidis, University Studio Press, Thessaloniki 2002, p. 230, no 147 (illustrated).
A rare and precious jewel of a painting, Nanny with children at the park (Pedio Areos) transforms reality into poetry, conveying the artist's need to submerge into a world of transcendental utopia. Although the subject is recognizable as a pleasant day at the park, the figures verge so closely to abstractions that the whole scene seems to dissolve in a dreamlike atmosphere, transformed into a glowing vision of subjective truth and expressive emotion. The evocative silence, the limited palette, the barren background glowing with an otherworldly white light, and the featureless faces of the seated nanny, the two children playfully hiding behind the park bench and the standing figure with flowers in hand, lap and head, set human relationships in a mystic realm of intimacy and introversion. Charged with psychological overtones, this idyllic outdoor scene moves beyond the genre and plein-air impressionistic traditions towards German expressionism, which Triantafyllidis had been exposed to during his studies in Munich.
Nanny with children at the park (Pedio Areos) , which belongs to the painter's famed series on the subject (compare Nannies in the Royal Gardens, c. 1835-1940, Athens, National Gallery) is a demonstration of creative force and freedom in the handling of paint, matched by gestural virility and boldness of execution. With its austere palette, generalised rendering of form, insistence on featureless, empty faces - a surviving symbolist trait also found in the work of Degas and the Nabis - and the replacement of naturalistic elements (illusionistic rendering of space, chiaroscuro effects and descriptive detail) with flatness, distortion and abstraction, this captivating panel perfectly illustrates Triantafyllidis's unique vision and signature style in the 1930s. 1
Discussing the work in his monograph on the artist, A. Kotidis noted: "The composition is organised horizontally with the figures in a horseshoe arrangement, leaving the space intentionally undefined. The artist insists on blurred faces, persistently depicting them without facial characteristics. Painted in a large scale, his figures are brought close to the viewer, creating a distinctive atmosphere. He reduces the sense of narrative and enhances the element of suggestion. Triantafyllidis's figures are faceless probably because they reflect his own introversion or even an artistic statement distancing him from the pronounced figuration represented by Kontoglou and the 1930s generation." 2
1. See A. Kotidis, Modernism and Tradition [in Greek], University Studio Press, Thessaloniki, 1993, pp. 254-257. 2. Kotidis, Theofrastos Triantafyllidis [in Greek], Thessaloniki, 2002, pp. 228-229.