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July 01, 2006

"Modern Greek Painting" exhibition in Hania's Municipal Gallery

Gallery0 Now just because the World Cup has been on doesn't mean we have abandoned all culture in Hania - not at all. A couple of weekends ago Claire & I went to a new exhibition that has opened in the Municipal Gallery at the top of Halidon street entitled "Modern Greek Painting". The exhibition features works on loan from the Evangelos Averoff Museum in Metsovo, and claims to have examples of every major artist and art movement to emerge from Greece in modern times.

The exhibition is on three floors in the gallery, and is open until August 31st 2006 - entrance is only €2, and students and the over 60 get in free. It is well worth popping into if you are visiting Hania.

The lower floor features the most contemporary works, and is the one that Claire & I found most enjoyable. We both liked a piece by Yannis Adamakis called "After The Snow", and Claire was quite taken with a charcoal drawing of a delapidated old roof, called appropriately enough "Old Roof". There were a couple of things we weren't keen on in the contemporary section - notably "Erotic" by Yannis Mouralis, which was, despite the inclusion of a couple of phallic shapes, anything but. "Arrow" by Opy Zounis was good though, using a very bright acrylic type of green, and looking a bit like an unused proposed cover for Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" album.

Gallery1 The two works we were both most impressed with are on the ground floor. I found Niki Kanagini's black'n'white melange "Manuscript, or Woman & Tree" pleasing, whilst Claire found "On the Occasion of Dodoni" by Michalis Maroussakis strangely compelling. She couldn't explain quite what she liked about it, but kept finding herself drawn to the picture of the thin man standing looking at a tree which was arching over him.

We probably would have preferred to see a larger selection of contemporary art, as neither of us are terribly keen on the art of the 19th century - "all portraits in soft-focus" as Claire put it. There are some pieces upstairs that we were desperately unimpressed with, including the exhibitions signature image "Girl with pigeons" by Tembessis Polychromis. Another work rather patronisingly romanticising the poor was "Street urchin eating watermelon" bu Pericles Pantazis - although the young lad in question has had his revenge over time - the way the canvass has worn and cracked has left him with hideously dark and evil looking eyes peering out at you.

Gallery2 One of the older pieces we did like was a portrait of George M. Averoff by Constantinos Parthenis. Looking more like a preparatory sketch than a finished work, the figure of Averoff appears to be looking at himself in a mirror, and has a really eerie ghostly quality about it. It feels like he might step out of the canvass and roam the building at night!

One flaw of the municipal gallery as a viewing space is that on the upper floors the walkways around the open atriums are very narrow, and it means that a lot of the paintings have to be viewed very close up - say within a metre - when you feel that they might be better served when viewed from a more usual distance.

I must apologise about the quality of the pictures - you can't use your camera in the gallery (I did ask), so these screengrabs are taking from a TV feature about the exhibition on Kydon's Crete News & Life programme. Here is Sally Heard interviewing one of the municipal gallery's staff about the exhibition, and another painting that caught the eye - for the shoes if nothing else - "Oriental Bath".



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