The National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum launches on Friday 13 January 2023 at 11:00 at the ‘Onassis Foundation’ Auditorium its Programme of Public Events to accompany its temporary exhibitions. The inaugural event is a one-day conference organised in the context of the retrospective exhibition ‘Konstantinos Parthenis. Painting an Ideal Greece.’ Focusing on the influence of Theosophy on the visual arts, the conference, which is open to the public, features art historians and the National Gallery Director, Syrago Tsiara, who is credited with the original idea and the scientific supervision.

A mixture of occult, philosophical, social and religious beliefs, Theosophy emerged in the late 19th century and grew into one of the most resilient spiritual movements, enjoying considerable prominence to this day. Pre-eminent artists who – each in their own way – helped shape the European avant-garde, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, and the Greek-centric modernist Konstantinos Parthenis, were all associated with Theosophy in their early years.

As a young man in 1896, Parthenis met the theosophical artist Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach in his native Alexandria. He followed him to the outskirts of Vienna and lived with his other disciples in the Humanitas commune for about a year. There, he experienced Diefenbach’s peculiar teaching and the communal way of life in tune with the pantheistic, ecological and utopian ideas of the time.

The eclectic affinities of Theosophy with the personal expression of spirituality that informs the work of Parthenis and, more broadly, the adoption of non-rationalist ideas by Greek intellectuals and artists during the first decades of the 20th century, as well as the relationship of Theosophy with Russian avant-garde art, abstraction, neoplasticism and theories of the architectural space are the main thematic areas that the eight speakers will explore in their addresses. Especially concerning the encounter of Theosophy and abstract art, the work of two important women, the pioneer of abstract painting, Hilma af Klint and the first Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Hilla Rebay, will be presented for the first time in Greece.

Participants (in alphabetical order): Angeliki Charistou, Curator of Costakis Collection and Archive, MOMus – Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection, Victoria Ferentinou, Assistant Professor, Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences, School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina, Sokratis Georgiadis, Professor Emeritus of History of Architecture and Design, Department of Architecture, State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, Evgenios D. Matthiopoulos, Professor of Art History, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete, Collaborating Faculty Member, Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Katia Papandreopoulou, Art Historian PhD, Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences, School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina, Spyros Petritakis, Art Historian PhD, Adjunct Lecturer, Athens School of Fine Arts, Maria Tsantsanoglou, Acting General Director of MOMus, Director of MOMus – Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection, Syrago Tsiara, Art Historian PhD, Director of the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum.

The program of the conference can be found here.

Concept – Scientific Supervision: Syrago Tsiara, Director, National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum

Organised by Elpiniki Meintani and Artemis Zervou, Curators, National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum

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Secretary: Ntina Plaka, +302144086222, [email protected]

National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum
50, Vasileos Konstantinou Ave., 116 34 Athens
Friday 13 January 2023
‘Onassis Foundation’ Auditorium
Start time: 11:00
Free admission
The Conference will be held in Greek.

The event will be filmed.

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