National Gallery, 29/03/1999 – 31/05/1999

Panayiotis Tetsis remains one of the last advocates of the painting of the gaze. A gaze nourished by a long painting tradition that began with the great 16th-century Venetian masters, Tiziano and Veronese, through Greco, Rubens, Chardin and Delacroix, to Matisse, Vuillard, Bonnard, even Rothko. All of the painters who inhabit the “imaginary museum” of Tetsis are colourists.

Panayiotis Tetsis matured in the 1950s Greece. The movements of abstraction had already begun to penetrate and establish themselves in Greece. Yet, the artist pursued a painting of the gaze, constantly sought ways to translate into colour the interplay of light with the world. This dialogue was far from easy, for the Greek light, according to the artist, “democratically flattens out all tones” and makes strong colours fade. Tetsis finally managed to establish a Greek painting that is at the same time phototropic and colouristic. Committed to the tradition of the modern, Tetsis has no privileged subjects. Subject matter is for him a mere stimulus, a pattern. His always solid-built composition, the abundant colour, the inimitable metier of a fine craftsman, all helped transform the most insignificant motif into a memorable painting event. The paintings by Tetsis are never descriptive, mimetic. Viewers are invited to recreate the image that stimulated the painter through their own perception, enjoying at the same time the creative process, the visible poetics of the work.

This retrospective exhibition organized for Panayiotis Tetsis had long been unanimously agreed upon as a minimal tribute to a worthy and acclaimed artist, long before he announced his generous offer to the National Gallery: 75 paintings and 50 prints – some of the best of his production – which were generously offered without any bounding conditions to the museum.

Exhibition Curators: Julia Dimakopoulou, Efi Agathonikou, Curator at the National Gallery of Greece