Falaise signed and dated 'GHIKA/70' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'Ghika/Falaise/1970" (on the reverse) oil on canvas 93 x 72 cm.
PROVENANCE: Acquired from the 'Trito Mati' Gallery (Athens) in 1976 during a solo exhibition by the artist, thence by decent.
EXHIBITED: Athens, Trito Mati Gallery, 1976.
A cascade of light and colour and a dynamic and rhythmically orchestrated nexus of lines and forms sweep the textured surface of a precipitous insular cliff into a cosmogonic whirlpool. Imbued with the breath of the earth and the atmosphere of Greek nature, Falaise is subject to a transcendental rhythm charged with poetic feeling and Dionysian energy. Primordial fragments and elemental crystals explode, spin and swirl around agile webs and dynamic traces so that the whole composition is immersed in a constantly changing and revived atmosphere. Ghika's charismatic reflections and instinctively free use of colour make up a pulsating landscape and a luminous and cheerful work, which speaks about the artist's lifelong fascination with the magic of painting and the miracle of Greek light.
From approximately the late 1950s on, Ghika's angular geometry gave way to a whirlpool of interwoven lines and forms and the ordered architectural structure of his landscapes was gradually replaced by a world subject to natural forces. 1 During that period he visited the USA with his wife Barbara at the invitation of the State Department and returned to Greece by way of the Far East. Inspired perhaps by Japanese calligraphy's constant flow of brush and pen, his landscapes became denser and more mystical, reflecting his perception of nature as a cosmogony invested with pantheistic rituals and age-old myths.
"Ghika's landscapes are fragments of refuge and pleasure. Particularly after the late 1950s -perhaps as a result of his visit to Japan- the spirals and angular movements become transformed into frantic whirlpools. The world of oriental calligraphy may have suggested mutations and associations. The pronounced calligraphic gestures, the convolutions of tender and fragile intensity, which had been long-established points of reference in his work, find new outlets. The angular microgeometry disappears or rather is hidden under a continuous paroxysm of spiralling curves." 2 As noted by Professor D.A. Fatouros, these stylistic features can be associated with Ghika himself, his body language, gestures, behaviour and way of expressing himself. 3 Seemingly calm and distant, this great exponent of the legendary 1930s generation who formulated a complex approach to the question of 'Greekness', was often impulsive, showing a great energy bursting from beneath an urbane surface. As the artist himself once said, "beautiful is that which corresponds to a certain internal order (my Appolonian element); or that which corresponds exactly to the architecture of our deepest feelings (my Dionysian element.)" 4
1. See M. Achimastou-Potamianou, 'Ghika's Art' [in Greek], in Greek Painters - 20th Century Melissa publ., Athens 1975, p. 340. 2. D.A. Fatouros, 'The Painting of Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika: Referenses and Sensations' in N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, the Apollonian-the Dionysian, exhibition catalogue., Benaki Museum, Athens 2006, p. 72. 3. See Fatouros, 'The Wisdom of the Teacher' in A Portrait of N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Texts from the Two-Day Conference at the Athens Academy, Tetradia Efthinis 37, Athens 1998, p. 50. 4. N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, The Birth of the New Art [in Greek], Astrolavos-Efthyni publ., Athens 1987, pp. 232-243.