Constantinos Maleas (Greek, 1879-1928) Landscape 40 x 32 cm.

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Lot 16
Constantinos Maleas
(Greek, 1879-1928)
Landscape 40 x 32 cm.

£ 45,000 - 65,000
US$ 63,000 - 91,000
Constantinos Maleas (Greek, 1879-1928)
Landscape
signed in Greek and with dedication to Mr T. Economakis (lower left)
oil on cardboard
40 x 32 cm.

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:
    Takis Economakis (1886 - 1944) collection, Volos;
    Private collection, Athens.

    Setting his easel outdoors, Maleas was able to retain the freshness of execution and fidelity to nature's effects, aiming not only to record a specific location but to investigate and solve pictorial issues beyond the mere treatment of his subject. He stood defiantly on the land, radically simplifying nature to concentrate on chromatic and painterly matters. He worked quickly and in full control of his medium, his brushstrokes verging on automatic physical responses to optical stimuli. Ηis primary concern was to render the atmosphere and character of the landscape, in an evocative manner that would convey the momentary elusiveness of an impression.

    In Paris, where he studied under Henri Martin, Maleas became familiar with the groundbreaking work of the leading impressionists, whose exploding canvases were a stark contrast to the more conservative style of his teacher. Impressionism taught Maleas that nature was first and foremost the touchstone against which one measured art. "Maleas' second period (1909-1917) is launched with his first trip to the Orient, proving that his seven years in Paris actually bore fruit. His painting is now dominated by landscape views. Flat, textured surfaces, thick impasto showing the tracings of the brush or the spatula, reductive approach and generalised handling of volume relate this work to Cezanne's legacy and Monet's abstractive style of the same period (Venice, Warer lilies series)."1

    Using richly layered, dynamic brushwork and strong colours, Maleas' Landscape echoes Monet's ambition to find a new, more modern way of painting the landscape by focusing on nature's colours, shapes, patterns, and textures as integral elements to his pictorial arrangement. His artistry creates a dynamic tension between nature and abstraction, between surface pattern and depth, which is akin to the achievements of the great French master. Moreover, while painting the landscape in front of him with complete directness, Maleas did so with a deeply layered understanding of the landscape as a complex entity, entrusting his subject to the truth of vision and venturing to penetrate into its inner world, become part of its reality and then recompose it with freedom, creativity and paganistic fervour.

    Engaged in such an exhaustive discourse with nature that wouldn't end before the artist captured all its chromatic brilliance and radiating poetry, this engaging work approaches abstraction in a strikingly modern way. The final outcome bears little resemblance to visual reality; it is a poetic, lyrical and robust statement of intense rhythm, powerful temperament and explosive energy, while the interplay of cool and warm tonalities charge the entire composition with a dream-like feel. Such qualities bestowed on Maleas his reputation as a great visual poet and one of the most important figures in Modern Greek art. His familiarity with the European avant-garde trends and his refreshing and innovative ideas made him a prominent member of the "Omas Technis", a progressive and influential art group which challenged the academic doctrines of the Munich School and infused the forces of renewal in Modern Greek painting with a fresh and vital impetus.

    The painting is dedicated to Takis Economakis (1886-1944), a fervent patriot and freedom fighter during the German occupation in the 1940s, who was also a literary figure, a dedicated art lover and one of the founders of the Volos art school in 1926. 2 (Compare Maleas' Seaside landscape in the Athens National Gallery, bearing a dedication inscribed on the lower left in a similar fashion.)


    1. A.K. (A. Kotidis) in Dictionary of Greek Artists [in Greek], vol. 3, Melissa publ., Athens 1999, p. 31.
    2. See Y. Siaflekis, Takis Economakis [in Greek], Volos 1952 and Greek Resistance in Volos and the Reporter Takis Economakis [in Greek], Volos 1983. See also F. Voyiatzis, The Painting of Thessaly (1500-1980), Athens 1980, p. 161.
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