Until October 15, 2012 you will have the chance to enjoy the highly interesting exhibition hosted at the Nafplion Annex of the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutzos Museum under the title The Generation of the Thirties: Tradition and Modernism.
For Greece, the milestone of the inter-wars period was the Asia Minor Disaster of 1922. This traumatic experience created the need for national self-affirmation, which was expressed through a turn to tradition. Furthermore, a turn towards order and tradition also characterised European art in the period between the two World Wars. The characteristics that would prevail in the artists of the Generation of the Thirties were fashioned in the Twenties.
The art of painters of this generation is anthropocentric. Its basic hallmark was the predominance of intellect over the senses, expressed through a powerful schematisation in composition and drawing, while colour distanced itself from nature and became more spiritual.
The mature work of Konstantinos Parthenis typifies these changes. His allegorical and religious compositions combine influences from Greek antiquity, Byzantium and the modern trends. Fotis Kontoglou, who came from Asia Minor, sought his sources of inspiration exclusively in the Byzantine and Eastern tradition, rejecting all contact with western art. His personality and ideas influenced many artists of the Generation of the Thirties. Yannis Tsarouchis understood the impasse implicit in Kontoglou’s doctrines and opened a fertile dialogue with many traditions (Hellenistic painting, Byzantium, the Renaissance and folk art) consistently sharing the preoccupations of modern art, Henri Matisse in particular.
Some of the biggest names of the Greek art of the 20th century belong to this generation such as Yannis Tsarouchis, Spyros Vassiliou, Nicos Egonopoulos, Nikos Hatzikyriakos – Ghikas, Nikos Nikolaou and Yannis Moralis.
For the Generation of the Thirties, tradition and Modernism functioned as two-way catalysts; each one was of assistance for the deeper understanding and appropriation of the other.