Forest signed and dated 'Ghika 61' (lower left) oil on paper laid down on canvas 48 x 76.5 cm.
PROVANANCE: Private collection, Athens.
LITERATURE: Dora Iliopoulou Rogan, N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika: The Apollonian-The Dionysian, Livani Editions, Athens 2006, no 222, p. 134 (illustrated).
I want the viewer to feel the knife used to carve out nature. Ν. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika
A luxuriant, paganistic work of Dionysian contemplation, Forest aptly illustrates Ghika's innovative approach to nature: "The artist discovers pulsating rhythms derived from his intimate relationship with nature. He discovers them in the leaves and insects, in the light and the shadows cast by wind swayed trees, in the flight of birds and the nuances of colour. In other words, I want the viewer to feel the knife used to carve out nature. I want him or her to even feel the music, the sounds emanating from the orchestration of different forms, different shapes, different lines and not only the orchestration but, if possible, even the inherent scent they exude, which is the most elusive sense of all." 1
For Ghika, nature was pantheistic and pagan, experienced as a cosmogony and invested, even in the humblest of shoots, with Oriental myths. In 1958, the artist was invited by the State Department to visit the USA and returned to Greece by way of the Far East. Inspired perhaps by Japanese calligraphy's pronounced gestures and constant flow of brush and pen, his landscapes became denser and more mystical, while their angular geometry gave way to a whirlpool of interwoven lines and forms, as in his evocative Forest, where trees, leaves, bushes and flowers are set in motion, engaged in a perpetual, Dionysian dance.
From 1960 on to the end of his life, the natural world would remain a key subject in Ghika's work, either independently or as background for figurative compositions. As noted by the painter and writer N.G. Pentzikis, "Ghika's schemata are rife with distant memories of animals, birds in flight, leaves, shoots, plant anatomy and fibres and flowers. By effectively organising many forms and shapes, he manages to create new ones." 2
1. Transcribed excerpts from the 'Monogramma' television documentary, ERT-2, 1984 in Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Tegopoulos publ., 2009, p. 150. 2. N.G. Pentzikis in N. Hadjikyriakos Ghika [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, Irmos gallery, Thessaloniki 1994.