Needlework signed in Greek (lower right) oil on cardboard 28.5 x 41 cm.
Painted c. 1909-1910
PROVENANCE: Fotios Maleas, the artist's son until c. 1950. N. Pantzaris collection, Athens until 1978. Private collection, Athens.
EXHIBITED: Constantinople, November-December 1910. Athens, National Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, C. Maleas Retrospective, 1980, no 60.
LITERATURE: Neon Pnevma magazine, vol 1, 1.12.1910, p. 39. Antonis Kottidis, The Painter C. Maleas, doctoral dissertation, Thessaloniki 1982, p. 52 (referred), fig. 2.7 (illustrated). Antonis Kottidis, C. Maleas, Adam Publications, Athens 2000, p. 323, no 27 (referred).
An ode to colour and a poem of domesticity, this intimate painting is a depiction not only of things seen but also of things loved and remembered, conveying a strong and comforting sense of humanness. The image radiates a dynamic force and the pictorial elements seem to take on an independent value and function, recalling the mesmerizing interiors of Bonnard and Vuillard. As noted by Professor A. Kotidis who prepared the monograph on the artist, "Needlework showcases some of the teachings Maleas learned in Paris. The woman occupied with a domestic task and isolated from her environment, the emphasis on geometric structure or the decorative scraping of the support harken back to the so called 'intimité familiale' types adopted by certain members of the Nabis group." 1
In Paris, where he studied under Henri Martin, Maleas became familiar with the groundbreaking work of the leading impressionists, whose exploding canvases -a stark contrast to the more conservative style of his teacher, exerted a profound and life-long influence on his work. However, since his early output, Maleas ventured beyond momentary sense impressions to capture the underlying structure of form and convey a sense of solidity and permanence. Here, the domestic scene of a young woman engrossed in a familiar daily task is not only a study on fleeting colour and light effects but also a manifestation of timeless immobility and archetypal austerity like a relief sculpture in the pediment of an ancient Greek temple.
1. A. Kotidis, Constantinos Maleas [in Greek], Adam editions, Athens 2000, p. 47.