Nikolaos Lytras (Greek, 1883-1927) Aghios Sozon, Tinos 56 x 45 cm.
Lot 6
Nikolaos Lytras
(Greek, 1883-1927)
Aghios Sozon, Tinos 56 x 45 cm.
Sold for £50,000 (US$ 80,772) inc. premium

Lot Details
Nikolaos Lytras (Greek, 1883-1927)
Aghios Sozon, Tinos
signed in Greek (lower left)
oil on canvas
56 x 45 cm.

Footnotes

  • Painted in 1923.

    A true find, this wonderful painting hitherto unpublished and unknown to art historical scholarship was given as a gift by Lytras to his friend, the mozaic artist Polychronis Renieris. In 1923, when he was appointed professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Nikolaos Lytras visited Tinos, the native island of his father, the great 19th c. painter Nikiforos Lytras, in search of an interpretative approach to nature and a deeper pictorial truth resulting from powerfully expressive juxtapositions. His fatherland, with its sparse, jugged terrain and sculptural quality of both its natural environment and traditional Cycladic architecture, offered Lytras many pictorial challenges posed by stark contrasts. It should be noted that in all of his Tinos paintings, which represent the culmination of his landscape work, Lytras consistently avoided general or panoramic views of the island's village complexes. Usually, only some scattered structures, identified by their solid, cube-like volumes, are juxtaposed with the wavy lines and flowing rhythms of the natural environment.1

    Like a white dove on a rocky outcrop ready to fly into the blue cloudless sky, Lytras's dazzling Cycladic chapel captures the power and brilliance of the Aegean archipelago. Vibrant form, painterly, Cezannesque technique and energetic brushwork in the vein of van Gogh support the liberation of properties intrinsic to the medium, asserting the freedom of the artist's pictorial gesture over his original subject. The tactility of the textured surfaces and, especially, the use of thick impasto lend a corporeal presence to the pictorial space. As perceptively noted by A. Kouria who curated the artist's major retrospective at the Athens National Gallery in 2008, "in Lytras's views of Tinos the very materiality of paint becomes the materiality of the landscape itself."2 This sense of immediacy and substance is enhanced by the prominence of the foreground rocks, these 'immortal sculptures'3, as Y. Tsarouchis once called them, that eternally define the character of the Greek land, conveying to the viewers an impression of a first-hand experience, as if they were actually part of the landscape. The painting unfolds with upward undulating rhythms like an abstract interplay of successive volumes, welding the rugged terrain and the whitewashed chapel into such a compelling entity that even the artist's signature on the lower left seems organically integrated in the pictorial surface, as if it were an 'indigenous' part of the landscape.

    1. See A. Kouria, D. Portolos, Nikos Lytras, Building Form with Colour and Light [in Greek], National Gallery-A. Soutzos Museum & Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive, Athens 2008, pp. 115-119.
    2. Ibid, p. 118.
    3. Y. Tsarouchis, The Obsession with Greenery, Kathimerini daily, 7.9.1975.
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