National Gallery, 29/04/2009 - 31/08/2009


Achilles Droungas seems to concur with the view set forth by Leon Batista Alberti in his 1435 treatise On Painting: “Painting is an open window to the world”. In fact, the modern artist often paints trompe l’oeil frames or introduces in his paintings curtains that make the spectacle revealed behind this frame seem even more life-like. This spectacle is a world of crystalline clarity, in which order, beauty, serenity and contemplation prevail. Still life paintings of the most vibrant flowers and fruit in diaphanous, glossy or white neo-classical vessels, birds of paradise and wild animals are depicted with inimitable technical skill that lends them a transcendental presence, a sense of eternity. In the late 1980s, the artist discovered the charm of the ancient world, which has since then inhabited his compositions alongside familiar figures and objects of contemporary life. Serene or ironic, this juxtaposition charges his images with allegorical or metaphorical meaning.

So what did the Greek artist take from the movements that dominated the international art scene around the 1970s, at the time when his own personal idiom was taking shape? Pop Art gave him the freedom to, often ironically, juxtapose contemporary consumer items with ancient Greek or biblical themes, or even to introduce real objects in the painting, establishing an intriguing ambiguity. Moreover, Hyperrealism encouraged him to paint objects in a vraisemblance that is not exclusively based on a photographic depiction, for Droungas studies his compositions from life, adjusting by eye and spirit what he seeks to signify, to reject, or to suggest in his images.

The compositions of Achilles Droungas are classical: Fully balanced, they are arranged parallel to the painting plane, avoiding vanishing points. His colours are pure, vivid, bright, as he never uses chiaroscuro. Immersed in the seductive charm of an ethereal, spiritual, Greek light, objects and figures attain Platonic purity. In this exalted light, all things shed their transitory, incidental character and become the timeless symbols of another kind of reality. The art of Achilles Droungas is essentially a meditation on time and transcendence through creation and beauty.

The impeccable organization of this exhibition is credited to the National Gallery Curator Dr Maria Katsanaki. I would like to congratulate and thank her. Yannis Metzikof lent his magic touch to the evocative atmosphere of the exhibition. Irene Tselepis, Press Officer, supported the public image of the exhibition. The superb catalogue showcasing Droungas’s splendid paintings was expertly designed by Thymios Presvytis and Thodoris Anagnostopoulos; colour separations by Kostas Adam.

Marina Lambraki-Plaka
Professor, History of Art
Director, National Gallery

Exhibition Curator: Dr Maria Katsanaki, Curator, National Gallery of Greece

Sponsor: National Bank of Greece
Communication Sponsor: Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT)