The Microcosm on Webster St. - Vassiliou Spyros

Vassiliou Spyros (1903 - 1985)

The Microcosm on Webster St., 1975

Acrylic and gold leave on canvas, 97 x 130 cm

Donated by the artist

Inv. Number Π.5719

The nostalgia for a vanishing Athens, for an everyday familiarity rapidly disappearing in the anonymous mass of an impersonal megalopolis was an inexhaustible mine of inspiration for Uncle Spyros, as he was affectionately called by his many admirers. The folk roots of his painting, which combine tradition with modernism, establish him among the authentic representatives of the Thirties Generation, to which he also belonged chronologically.
The Microcosm of Webster Street, which depicts a corner of his studio near the Acropolis, is an intimate representation of the painter’s world. An old mirror on a wall between two openings gives us the reflection of a half-finished painting of a solitary chair on the sand near the sea. This is one of the subjects Vassileiou enjoyed painting at his country home in Eretria.
Another painting depicts the view of the Acropolis from his house, with all the newer buildings in the foreground. The juxtaposition of the ancient structures and the beautiful neoclassical ones with the tasteless, mass-produced new apartment buildings that had begun overwhelming Athens was one of Vassileiou’s favorite themes. The “actual” view of the Theater of Herodes Atticus and the Acropolis is revealed through two balcony doors to the left and right of the wall. The sky is covered with gold leaf. The multiple paintings captured within the painting, the reflections of paintings in the mirror, create an exciting picture of the type that long always enchanted painters, especially 16th century Mannerists. Vassileiou combines accurate drawing with the light, atmospheric colors that convey the ethereal quality of the Attic light. The golden ochre hues dialogue with complementary blues alongside the silence of the white wall.