Neo-Hellenic Painting of religious origin at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Case Study. Konstantinos Parthenis and Fotis Kontoglou
Ludwig Thiersch (1825-1909), member of the Nazarenes school, not only brought a vision indebted to Western art, but also attempted to distance himself from the specific national art. After 1856, the Athenian academic space will be usually filled only with Greeks teachers, who, however, being educated in different centers of Europe, will bring along some art influences from their area of training. Current or past artistic styles come to complete the wide universe of the Greek art of the late nineteenth century, as in Italy, Vienna, Munich and Paris.
If artistic trends coming from the German and Bavarian space influenced Neo-Hellenic art, characterized by an opening towards a style dominated by academicism, even by a late romanticism, the influence of the French art will give a new spirit to the Greek creations from the beginning of XX century. Late Impressionism, but especially Symbolism, will unite in a homophonic utterance the Greek creators, divided into different categories and styles between the years 1930-1940.
Aesthetically two diametrically opposed personalities, but great scholars of these times of many changes, are undoubtedly Konstantinos Parthenis and Fotis Kontoglou. Religious painting and icons of Konstantinos Parthenis (1878-1967) are in line with traditional typological point of view, but aesthetically, they have greater freedom of expression and interpretation. The forms, more simplified, are often reduced, drawing becomes geometrical and essential, and color, placed in exquisite combinations, not always follows Byzantine art heritage, but is moving towards European trends of the time: Post-Impressionism - Symbolism.
In contrast to the free and creative character of Parthenis, Fotis (Photis) Kontoglou (1895-1965) will focus in his art all the Byzantine heritage and tradition. Since his beginings, Kontoglou, regarded as a traditional artist, is moving towards a theoretical and practical work, turning to early Byzantine painting. The major importance of the presence of Fotis Kontoglou in in the area of the Greek art and culture meant not only his own creation, but the revitalization of religious art in the early twentieth century. Testimonies over time are also his disciples, who exhibited and shared his achievements: Yiannis Tsarouchis, Nikos Engonopoulos, Spyros Vassiliou etc.
Keywords: Neo-Hellenic painting, Konstantinos Parthenis, Fotis Kontoglou, Byzantine painting
MARCEL GHE. MUNTEAN