Young man in blue top signed in Greek (lower right) tempera on card laid down on hardboard 44.5 x 33.5 cm.
Painted c. 1937-1949.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Athens.
EXHIBITED: Athens, National Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, Diamantis Diamantopoulos, Athens 1978, no 91 (illustrated in the catalogue).
Transformed into a 'saint' of a modern-day pantheon by one of the most innovative 20th c. Greek artists, this potent and compelling image of a young man lays claim to a cultural symbol, his inner dignity of folksiness regained in the robustness of line and monumentality of form. Radically simplified and captured in fiery reds, dazzling blues and burnished browns, this entrancing portrait relies on purely formal and pictorial means to stir deep emotions.
Reviewing the artist's 1978 major retrospective at the Athens National Gallery, which included the Bonham's picture, art critic E. Ferentinou noted: "His 1937-1949 output is dominated by intense black contours that envelop every shape in the composition. Thus, he avoids tonal gradations while safeguarding local hues from bleeding into the adjoining ones. A brilliant draughtsman, the artist succeeds in rendering volume using a two-dimensional approach, without descriptive details and chiaroscuro effects. By means of a few eloquent and expressive curved or straight lines and with wise distortions, he effortlessly draws his human subjects and their surroundings."1 Focusing on general human types rather than specific individual features, Diamantopoulos treats his subject as an archetypal image that ventures beyond the typically Greek towards the collective and universal.2
1. E. Ferentinou, The Painting Adventure of Diamantis Diamantopoulos [in Greek], To Trito Mati magazine, no.4, April-December 1978, p. 20. 2. See C. Christou, Diamantis Diamantopoulos [in Greek] in Diamantis Diamantopoulos, exhibition catalogue, Athens Academy, Athens 2001.