BONHAMS CELEBRATES 1OTH GREEK SALE WITH £2-MILLION AUCTION

. April 27, 2007

GREEK COFFEE SHOP PAINTING OFF THE WALL AT £150,000

This year marks the 10th Greek Sale at Bonhams in London and what better way to celebrate than to provide over £2-million worth of artwork at the next sale on 15 May 2007, at 101 New Bond Street.

The sale of predominantly 20th century art will feature over 200 lots of pictures and sculpture by the very best Greek artists, including Yiannis Moralis (b.1916), Theofilos Hadjimichails (1867-1934), Nikos Engonopoulos (1910-1985), and Constantinos Volanakis (1837-1907).

One of the most significant items in for sale is the frescoe Katsantonis in the Ravine near ‘Pende Pigadia’ by Theofilos Hadjimchail, which has been in a private collection for 40 years. The painting pays homage to Katsantonis (1873/5-1807/8), one of the great figures of pre-revolutionary Greece, who was a constant source of inspiration to Hadjimchail. It is one of just a few surviving murals by the great 20th century artist and this is reflected in its £100,000-150,000 estimate.

Originally, Hadjimchail had produced the work for the wall of a coffee-shop in the village of Parkoila on the Greek island of Lesvos (Mytilini), where it remained for 30 years, accumulating soot and smoke residue from the coffee shop’s stove, gas cooker and cigarette smoking patrons. In the early 1960s, the work was transferred onto canvas and subsequently restored by an Athens National Gallery expert.

Top lot in the sale is a composition by the greatest living Greek artist Yiannis Moralis. The monumental piece, simply called Composition, is a revival of the archetypal universe of an Ionian frieze or a Doric metope. Architectural motifs portray fragments of an ancient Greek temple or neoclassical Athenian mansion and the artist has combined these with austere horizontal and vertical lines from which the human form appears – a young woman and a loving couple embracing. It is expected to fetch £130,000-180,000.

Another nude offered for sale will be Nikos Engonopouloss distinctive and bold Hero (Philopemen), which was painted in oil in 1957. It is estimated at £80,000-100,000.

Another great 20th century artist, Engonopoulos was a pioneering advocate of surrealism and many of the defining features of his work are demonstrated in this piece. A faceless naked man is depicted holding a staff and sword next to a table featuring green pears and a blue jug in front of a vibrant blue sky and sea.

“I love the nude body more than the face,” the artist once said.”The face may lie. The nude never does. That’s why I am not interested in the face. Its only the body that I paint. I love it because it is the chalice of life. As expressive as life is, even when tired. As sparkling as life is, when young.”

Until now, the canvas has been kept in a private collection, available to scholars only through a charcoal and pencil on paper, published in the artists book Sketches and Colours Athens 1996.

Category: Auction News

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