After the rain signed and dated 'Ghika / 78' (lower left); signed, dated and inscribed 'Ghika 1978 / After the rain' (on the reverse) oil on canvas 73 x 73 cm.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Athens.
LITERATURE: Cleanthi-Christina Valkana, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, The Paintings, Benaki Museum Edition, Athens 2011, cat no 464, p. 309 (illustrated with wrong cataloguing).
An untamed landscape unleashed in paint, where earth and sky, air and rock are entangled in a cosmogonic whirlpool of interwoven lines and forms, After the rain is an outstanding picture of pulsating energy and complex rhythm that reveals the potent forces of nature. "I want the viewers to feel the sounds emanating from the orchestration of different forms, different shapes and different lines. In other words, I want the viewer to feel the knife used to carve out nature."1
In the late 1970s, the artist became again interested in delving into the innermost secrets of nature and expressing "the most arcane nuances of the mystery of natural phenomena."2 By exploring the different qualities of light and atmosphere and highlighting the dynamic character of water, the artist translated the fleeting impressions of cloudcover and rain into a sophisticated vocabulary of form. However, Ghika was not only interested in the landscape's constant movement and dynamic elusiveness but also sought to capture its everlasting geological structure and inner truth.3 What he was most concerned about was to convey both the reality of the changing atmospheric effects and the reality of the rocky terrain, which stands forever, weathering the next storm as it has weathered millions before.
A work of explosive vibe and Dionysian contemplation, After the rain perfectly illustrates Ghika's mystical connection to nature. Everything seems to be an integral part of the composition, participating equally in this feast of creation, subject to a transcendental rhythm and steeped in an atmosphere of dramatic suspense. As the chequered pattern of the hilly landscape meanders towards the horizon, the viewer's gaze glides quickly into the distance and comes to rest on the spectacle in the sky, which rolls onward like a roaring ocean. The whirling clouds, with their pronounced materiality and full-bodied forms make the whole firmament crackle with electric charge, echoing the fervent turbulence of van Gogh's Starry Night, while the golden sunlight piercing through an opening in the centre of the painting evokes the eerie beauty of El Greco's View of Toledo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Moreover, After the rain reflects Ghika's need at the time to break away from geometric abstraction and return to a freer, less formal expressive language.4 The artist himself once said: "Venturing beyond geometric rules and harmonious designs you gain something else: more spontaneity and greater freedom."5 As noted by K.C. Valkana who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Ghika, the painter leaves behind his elliptical and highly evocative style with its pronounced Japanese influences and steadily regains his interest in image making, a fascinating development that seems to coincide with the period's dominant artistic and cultural trends associated with postmodernism.6 Prefacing the exhibition catalogue of his 1978 one man show at London's New Art Centre, Ghika himself wrote: "To reach beyond, without in the least disturbing the latent appearance or the exacerbation of everyday things."
1. Transcribed excerpts from the 'Monogramma' television documentary, ERT-2, 1984 in Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Tegopoulos publ., 2009, p. 150. 2. Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, From the East [in Greek], Athens 1989, p. 43 3 M. See K.C. Valkana, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, His Painting Oeuvre [in Greek], Benaki Museum, Athens 2011, p. 238. 4. Compare After the rain?, 1963, private collection, London. 5. A. Grimani, "Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, The Clock of Memories" [in Greek], interview by Ghika, Ena magazine, no.49, 5.10.1990, pp. 115-118. 6. Valkana, pp. 242-243.