National Gallery, 08/10/2001 - 10/12/2001

An emblematic figure of modern Greece, Nikolaos Gysis never ceased to be admired and appeal to people’s hearts. The artist’s life, personality and work epitomize symbolic values that make him a national model of transcendence.


It was not long before the little islander from Tinos, who was accepted to the School of Arts at an early age, distinguished himself, “always excelling”. At the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied from 1865 on scholarship from the Evangelistria Foundation of Tinos, his studiousness, talent and eagerness were soon recognized by his German teachers and fellow artists and ensured him a prominent place within the art circles of the Bavarian capital city.His progress was not limited to the subject of his studies. He read, studied and participated with his works in major events in Germany, Greece and internationally; he distinguished himself, gained awards and was ultimately appointed Professor at the Munich Academy (1888).


Gysis soon achieved the technical mastery of a mature academic painter and went beyond that, conquering a personal idiom. His first return to Greece (1872-74), his pilgrimage to the Orient, alongside his fellow artist, compatriot and friend, Nikephoros Lytras, accelerated this transition from the artist’s early academic period, with the pronounced Bavarian elements, to a more “Greek” style, enriched with a new vibrancy.


His subjects were now increasingly drawn from the customs, practices and problems of the Greek people. His genre paintings reveal rare skills in setting the stage, evoking the surroundings and capturing psychology. A sense of vitality and life imbues his images, owed, not only to his staging ability, but mostly, to the tense vigour of his brushwork.


Light now played the leading role in Gysis’s painting, organising the narrative and determining the intensity of the colours.


After his return to Munich, where he settled for good, Gysis became affiliated with the Symbolist movement, which fit perfectly with the poetic predisposition and tender soul of the artist. His symbolist works liberated his technique, which now became more abstract, nervier, more gestural, more “modern”.

Exhibition Curator: Dr. Nelly Missirli, Director of Collections and Museological Planning at the National Gallery of Greece

Sponsor: Delta Holdings S.A.