"The most marvellous of all that I know in the sphere of architecture is huts." Vincent van Gogh
Unfolding vertically like a precious Byzantine scroll, this engaging rendition of a humble fishing hut illustrates the words of art historian M. Chatzidakis who argued that "Ghika's paintings are perfect architectural edifices where each element has an essential and irreplaceable function, while all parts are completely subservient to the whole."1 Here, an intricate lacework of curved and slanted lines, angular shapes and geometric planes builds up a rhythmical composition echoing the spatially contorted depictions of Byzantine towns -used as backdrops for religious subjects in much of icon painting. As noted by Professor M. Michelis, "Ghika observes the world carefully and in every glance of his eyes he makes the world anew. His vision is akin to the Byzantine mosaics of the Chora Monastery. His buildings are depicted almost according to the laws of Byzantine perspective. This kind of perspective is always in motion, adhering to many points of view rather than a single, fixed one."2 Likewise, art critic A. Xydis noted that 'Ghika's paintings are invested with all the concentrated force and power of the abstractive town depictions included in Byzantine mosaics."3
Drawing from indigenous and age-old, timeless sources, ranging from icon painting to folk art and Karaghiozi shadow-puppet theatre (compare Fishing hut to his legendary hut of Karaghiozi included in his stage set designs for the Cursed Serpent ballet (1951) performed by Rallou Manou's 'Hellenic Choreodrama' dance group,) Ghika formulated a distinctive and forward-looking artistic premise related to Braque's and Picasso's avant-garde approach. According to the painter himself, the fragmented planes and spatial distortions cultivated by cubism recall an enduring convention of Greek art: "The character of the Greek schema, whether in antiquity, the Byzantine era or folk art, is by and large geometric."4 Moreover, Fishing hut's tender convolutions and fragile gestures allude to the mystical world of oriental calligraphy, which the artist became acquainted with on his journey to Japan in 1958, when he visited the USA at the invitation of the State Department and returned to Greece by way of the Far East.
1. See M. Chatzidakis in N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, Eirmos gallery, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 34. 2. M. Michelis, N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika [in Greek], Zygos journal, no. 58, September 1960, p. 10. 3. A. Xydis, The Work of Hadjikyriakos-Ghika [in Greek], Zygos journal, no. 58, September 1960, p. 20. See also B. Papadopoulou, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Modernism and Tradition [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, Ermopouleia 2006, Cyclades Municipal Gallery, Syros 2006, p. 26. 4. N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, On Greek Art [in Greek], Neon Kratos journal, no. 5, January 1938.