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Lot 46
Thanos Tsingos
(Greek, 1914-1965)
18 May 2010, 14:00 BST
London, New Bond Street

Sold for £72,000 inc. premium

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Thanos Tsingos (Greek, 1914-1965)

Still life with red and blue flowers
signed and dated 'Tsingos 59' (lower left); signed, dated and numbered '59/no.100 (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
161.5 x 128.5cm


Pure energy, monumental scale -one of the largest formats Tsingos ever used- and dynamic gesture, but also grace, sensitivity and delicacy of touch demonstrated by a visionary bohemian who left his mark in postwar Greek art, perfectly capturing the avant-garde longing for romantic escape and constant re-invention of ideas and forms. Deriving his inspiration from memories of nature and freely synthesising aspects of surrealist automatism and abstract expressionism within a highly original amalgam, Tsingos was a magician who transformed thick impasto into a riot of colourful stems and petals.

With improvised strokes, curls and dabs of paint applied with unconventional freedom directly from the tube, the artist created such magnificent compositions as Still life with red and blue flowers, reflecting his fascination with both his subject and the process of painting. Though the act of painting has always been an energising source of his visual creation, his pictures never actually threatened to devour the subject. Instead, they startle the viewer with their amazing clarity, treating us to a lively impression of the joys and sensations of the open air, while inducing a fresh outburst of wonder that leaves us breathless. The viewer's eye travels along the vigorous lines, following the movement of the painter's hand, his romantic gesture revealing the liberation of confined energy. However, this powerful statement of personal freedom is declared with remarkable self-control, which never allows the painting to lose its inner logic or run the risk of confused imagery. 1

Every sinewy stem and every vibrating petal is at once an integral part of the flower and a separate celebration with an abstract life of its own, provoking the spectator's responsiveness to painting as both an activity and a representation of the world of reality. Tsingos retained the legibility of his subject because he believed that painting could be emancipated from conventionality without having to succumb to non-objectivity; that painting should be measured by and take its value from a relationship with something outside itself. In other words, Tsingos' irresistibly beautiful flowers are the artist's firm anchorage to a world of natural wonders and immutable rhythms.

Still life with red and blue flowers was painted the year Tsingos showed in Cannes, the third and most important of his solo exhibitions and a breakthrough in his career, establishing his international reputation.2 In their creative combination of originality, self-confidence, Dionysian ecstasy and Apollonian lyricism, such mature works as Still life are advanced formulations of tachisme and art informel concepts, claiming a distinct place in the history of postwar lyrical abstraction and representing, perhaps, the most inspired European response to the high-rhetoric of the American abstract expressionists.

1. See H. Kambouridis - G. Levounis, Modern Greek Art-The 20th Century, Ministry of the Aegean, Athens 1999, p. 162.
2. See 'Thanos Tsingos' [in Greek], Zygos journal, no. 41, May-June 1980, pp.31-43.

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