Roof signed in Greek (upper left) tempera on paper laid down on panel 50 x 65 cm.
Painted c. 1930.
Provenance: D. Diamantopoulos collection, Athens. Private collection, Athens.
Exhibited: Athens, Asylo Technis, 1931. Venice, Biennale, 1982. Athens, National Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, Diamantis Diamantopoulos, Athens 1978, no 8 (illustrated in the catalogue and referred p. 13).
A very rare gem, one of the nine surviving works from Diamantopoulos first period that were exhibited in his 1978 major retrospective at the Athens National Gallery1, Roof was initially shown in 1931 at the Asylo Technis, a small gallery in Athens Plaka quarter. I believe the painter himself once said that, in retrospect, this body of work could be considered a draft synopsis of my subsequent artistic development. Initially working in a cubist manner, I then adopted a surrealist style before I finally embraced realism. The number of works was small, forty or so. The sculptor Clearchos Loukopoulos who visited the show often and kept me company, claims they were no more than thirty five. Either way I only have eight of them left. Im trying hard to find some more.2
The 1931 exhibition received favourable reviews. The art critic F. Yofillis praised the painters innovative ideas3, while the great Pikionis noted the young artists break from conventions and a priori assumptions, recognising a personal vision that successfully reveals new aspects of reality.4 Indeed, in this seminal show Diamantopoulos articulated a solid and well thought out artistic premise that would become the guiding light of his entire career. Still in high school, he was not only familiar with some of modern arts most defining and fertile pursuits, but was also able to utilise certain of their key features in a personal manner.5 B. Spiliadi, who prefaced the artists participation in the 1982 Venice Biennale, noted that at an age when many others have not yet thought of what they want to do with their lives, Diamantopoulos was already an artistic personality in his own right.6
According to former Athens National Gallery Director D. Papastamos, who wrote the introduction to the artists 1978 retrospective, the works he exhibited in his 1931 show at the Asylo Technis gallery constitute a great revelation for todays art scholars. Besides post-cubist pursuits, his work involved other avant-garde trends, which at the time were not represented by any single individual or organised art group in Greece, such as a surrealist disposition reminiscent of the desolate landscapes of Pittura Metafisica. Above all, however, this show clearly revealed Diamantopoulos pictorial objective which he faithfully and successfully pursued in his prolific oeuvre. It represented such a truthful view of reality that, 48 years later, recent avant-garde realist experimentations seem old and familiar, as if harking back to the early work of this great painter.7 And in a last remark on this breakthrough 1931 show, D. Papastamos made a direct reference to the painting offered at auction: At the time no one would have thought of depicting a tiled roof with nothing else disrupting the repetitiveness of this ordinary motif.8
1. From these works, eight were owned by the artist and one (Constuction site) by the Municipality of Athens. See list of works in Diamantis Diamantopoulos [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, National Gallery-Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens 1978, p. 31. 2. Interview by A. Chatzopoulos [in Greek], Kathimerini daily, 29.1.1978. See also interview by A. Bacharian [in Greek] in Diamantis Diamantopoulos, Works 1978-1980, exhibition catalogue, Ora Artistic and Cultural Centre, Athens 1980. 3. F. Yofillis, Protoporia journal, no. 10, October 1930. 4. D. Pikionis, Proia daily, 8.4.1931. 5. C. Christou, Diamantis Diamantopoulos [in Greek] in Diamantis Diamantopoulos, exhibition catalogue, Athens Academy, Athens 2001. 6. Β. Spiliadi, Diamantis Diamantopoulos, Painter in Hellas - Biennale Venezia 1982, exhibition catalogue, Greek Ministry of Culture, Athens 1982. 7. Preface to Diamantopoulos, National Gallery, p. 12. 8. Ibid, p. 13.