I have to say I was greatly impressed by the work of Yannis Tsarouchis in this exhibition. It is the first time I have seen his work and I was able to understand entirely why he is the artist of repute that he is. He was certainly a great talent not just in the context of Greek art history but in modern art history at large. I think he is as good as it gets.
I instantly saw his influences from art history, particularly from antiquity where he has been profoundly influenced by Fayum portraiture, ancient frescos & friezes, sculpture and Byzantine art. And yet his work was utterly contemporary in the context of its time. This for me is where his genius lies as he managed to unite influences of Greek history with contemporary Greek culture in a vibrant and inventive way, being influenced at root level, based on an in-depth understanding of the past.
However, this is the first time in five years of visiting exhibitions at The Benaki Museum where I was somewhat stunned at the poor standards in mounting. This exhibition was not up to the Benaki standards I have come to know and love. As soon as I entered the exhibition I was distracted by the mounting, particularly the framing, but also the hanging. In a room full of such masterpieces it is a crying shame to have this distraction. Perhaps the Benaki has run out of exhibition budget? And decided to exhibit an A-Z of framing options for the local framer to get more business?! I am sorry if I sound harsh, but it was bad, really bad. The Benaki should know better than to concede its standards in such a way..
Tsarouchis also designed costumes!
The work depicting an artist in his studio made me chuckle. Just a couple of months earlier I used the same source of inspiration in a photo shoot I did for Classical Rhythm. That source of course is the statue of The Dying Gaul in Rome: a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original. In Tsarouchis' work too you can see the same renowned sculpture inspired him, in his depiction of a male model in an artist’s studio.
From sculpture, to fashion to painting: The Dying Gaul, Classical Rhythm, and detail of Tsarouchis' Artist in his Studio