The Staw Hat - Lytras Nikos

Lytras Nikos (1883 - 1927)

The Staw Hat, ca 1925

Oil on canvas, 86 x 66 cm

Inv. Number Π.492
On view Main Building

The “”Straw Hat”” is one of the most impressive and daring works of early Greek modernism. Before we even begin to analyse it, our first impression is one of being immersed in an island landscape on a hot summer day. The fiery yellow of the dry wild plants, mingling with the yellow straw of the suntanned girl (for it is a girl), converse with blue and violet, migrating from the young girl’s shirt to the whitewashed courtyard and the low island houses completing the composition at the top. Two complementary colours prevail, yet gradated in various shades and distributed in arrays across the entire composition. All the grey-blue cool colours at the bottom, all the orange-yellow warm ones at the top.
The painter loads the brush with abundant paint and “”builds”” his composition in sweeping brush strokes. It is as if we could follow the artist’s fast and assured pace as well as the direction of his gesture. We can therefore call it an expressionistic, gestural writing. Except for the fact that Nikolaos Lytras conveys a message of tranquility instead of agony, as was the case with expressionist painters. This painting of a closed horizon, an upward composition and bold colours set on fire by the sun, can be seen as the ideogram of the Greek summer on an Aegean island. The island may be Tinos, where the artist’s family originated.