Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika (Greek, 1906-1994) Little Square in the neighbourhood of Keramikos 81 x 100 cm.

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Lot 31
Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika
(Greek, 1906-1994)
Little Square in the neighbourhood of Keramikos 81 x 100 cm.

£ 120,000 - 180,000
US$ 150,000 - 220,000
Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika (Greek, 1906-1994)
Little Square in the neighbourhood of Keramikos
signed 'K.GHIKA' (lower right)
oil on canvas
81 x 100 cm.

Footnotes

  • Painted in 1928.

    PROVENANCE:
    G. Pikoulis, Athens;
    I. Nikolaidis, Athens;
    N. Petsalis-Diomidis, Athens;
    Private collection, Athens.

    EXHIBITED:
    Athens, To Trito Mati Gallery, May 1977.

    LITERATURE:
    N. Petsalis-Diomidis, Ghika 1921-1940, Athens 1979, no 58, p. 69 and 132 (illustrated).
    'Ghika and Avant-Garde in Interwar Europe', Benaki Museum and N.H. Ghika Gallery, Ephesus Publishing, Athens 2004, no 29, p. 56 (illustrated).
    To Trito Mati journal, no. 1. May 1977, fig. 54 (illustrated).

    "In the delectable The Square, Keramikos, a twilight view of an expanse of gentle topographical curves set within a group of neatly scattered dwellings, Ghika presents the simple, good-natured life of its inhabitants, occupied with their various activities, in a folk vein that harks back to the roots of the Greek artistic tradition. In its tonal sweetness and naiveté of touch, this work also recalls certain paintings by Douanier Rousseau."1

    Reviewing Ghiika's output from the late 1920s, the influential scholar and publisher Christian Zervos noted: "In these paintings, objects, with their material suggestions were replaced by signs, the artist's aim being to represent them through an intellectual proliferation of images, as well as through projection of volume and space, and not through close, sustained relationship between their appearance and the images he derived from them. Without there being any question in these works of rejecting the object, he nevertheless profoundly changed its appearance. And although there were some geometrical elements in his paintings of that period, as well as a certain concern for dynamism and structure, his aesthetic attitude never withdrew from his instinctive one." 2

    In 1928, while Ghika was in Greece, two of his oils were included in a group exhibition at the Salon des Tuileries in Paris, while in May he made his debut in Athens, showing with sculptor Michael Tombros, who had returned with Ghika from Paris. His friendship with Dimitris Pikionis, Socrates Karantinos, Spyros Papaloukas and Stratis Doukas date from that time. As noted by J.-P. De Rycke, "in the 1926-1928 period Ghika's objective was to transition from naturalistic imitation to rationalistic conception and from subjective impression to objective construction." 3 According to historian N. Petsalis Diomidis, who prepared the painter's catalogue raisonée of the period, "in the late 1920s (1926-1931) the artist went through a phase during which the subject of the quest that would inform his subsequent work, that is the study of light and its permutations on surfaces and large areas. In this phase the painter adopted a bold abstractive formal vocabulary without, however, succumbing to non-objectivity." 4

    In this panoramic view of the quaint Athenian neighbourhood of Keramikos, the cluster of buildings dominating the centre of the painting, reminiscent of Galanis's or Braque's cube-like structures or even Quattrocento and Byzantine town depictions, is one of the artist's most characteristic iconographical elements from that period. As noted by Professor C. Christou, "in the 1927-1929 period one of the issues taken up in Ghika's paintings seems to be the organisation of space as indicated by his predilection for architectural themes always treated with a disciplined design, interwoven planes and almost classicist purity of colour." 5

    Of particular interest is also the woman leaning out of the window on the left flanked by open shutters, a subject the artist worked on in independent compositions in 1927, and the two figures on the right sitting around the ubiquitous round metal table of the traditional Greek coffee shop, a perfect place for philosophising and exchanging views on current events, and a cornerstone of Athenian urban culture, whose enchanting allure was captured in works by S. Vassiliou, Y. Moralis, N. Ghika and other exponents of the thirties generation.

    1. J.-P. De Rycke, 'The European Model' in Ghika and Avant-garde in Interwar Europe, Benaki Museum - N.H. Ghika Gallery, Efesos publ., Athens 2004, p. 54.
    2. C. Zervos, 'Ghika and his Art' in Ghika, Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, Boston Book and Art Shop, Boston, 1965, p. 1.
    3. De Rycke, p. 43.
    4. N. Petsalis-Diomidis, 'Ghika's Painting Oeuvre' [in Greek], Kathimerini daily, Epta Imeres, 15.1.1995, p. 16.
    5. C. Christou, 'Nikolis Hadjikyriakos-Ghika' [in Greek] in In Memory of N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, exhibition catalogue, Academy of Athens, Athens 1995, p. 12.
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