The return of Odysseus signed 'G.Gounaro' (lower left) oil on panel 110 x 244 cm.
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist c. 1955.
A monumental panel and a superb example of G. Gounaropoulos' mature work, The Return of Odysseus unfolds a lyrical, mythical world of pure poetic fantasy. The delicate colour gradations, the immaterial, translucent forms, the manifold light sources and, above all, the shimmering, sinuous line, inspired by ancient Greek vase painting, render his idealized female figures in a magical dreamscape, imbuing them with a timeless value. The outcome is an alluring, fluid painting like the notes of a visual melody or the visionary depiction of a symbolist poem. G. Mourelos, an authority on the painter, maintains: "His line, dominated almost exclusively by the curvilinear, is drawn as if in a single stroke, fuelled by its own dynamic, much like a melody that doesn't end before it's theme is completed." 1
Hailing from the Greek community of the Black Sea in present-day Bulgaria, Gounaropoulos came to Greece at the age of sixteen, and after his early ventures in post-impressionism, he gradually developed a unique personal language where his signature female figures lay claim to the archetypal and the symbolic. 2 In their delicate, transparent garments, the ethereal creatures who dash to welcome the returning hero emerge as nymphs from a fairy tale, perhaps like those that haunted the imagination of the young Gounaropoulos in his native fishing village. Even the jagged, outlandish rocks on the right seem to allude to the rugged shores of the Black Sea. "In his childhood eyes the idea of travel took on a mythical dimension. An idea recalling the adventures of Odysseus, a venture into the unknown, rediscovered in these precipitous and human-like rocks that rise like strange ships from a mysterious sea." 3 "Gounaropoulos' seas, suns, rocks and figures take us way back to a kind of mythical journey, to the depths of a magical, uncharted world." 4
1.G. Mourelos, 'Giorgos Gounaropoulos' in The Greek Painters - 20th Century [in Greek], Melissa publ., Athens 1975, p. 103. 2. H. Kambouridis - G. Levounis, Modern Greek Art - The 20th Century, Athens 1999, p. 114. 3. Mourelos, p. 95. 4. Mourelos, preface in the G. Gounaropoulos exhibition catalogue, Astor gallery, Athens 1973.