Dimitris Mytaras

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Dimitris Mytaras (1934 – 2017) was born in 1934, in Chalkis, Hellas. He is deemed as one of the most important and distinguished Hellenic artists of the 20th century.

He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1953 – 1957), under professor Y. Moralis and S. Papaloukas, receiving distinctions. Supported by the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY)he studied the Folklore Art on the island of Mytilene (1957) and later, in Paris, Stage Design at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs (1961-1964), under professor F. Labisse and J. L. Barrault. In Paris he also attended lessons of Interior Design at the École des Arts et Métiers.

Between 1964 – 1972 he was teaching at the Athens Technological Institute. In 1969 he joined the academic staff of the Athens School of Fine Arts as an assistant professor where, in 1975, became a Professor, and later, between 1982 to 1985, the Dean.

In 1978 he founded the Chalkis Art Workshop. Additionally, he collaborated with major Hellenic theatre organizations, as stage and costume designer, such as the National Theatre of Greece and the National Theatre of Northern Greece. Moreover, he was involved with public art, making art available to the general public.

In 2008 he was announced a member of the Athens Academy. He was also awarded the title of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Phoenix, plus, the same year, was awarded the Gold Medal of the City of Chalkis. 

He held a great number of solo exhibitions in Hellas and abroad such as in: Zygos Gallery, Athens (1961) | Athens Hilton  (1964) | Astor Gallery, Athens (1965, 1969) | Merlin Gallery, Athens (1966) | Zoumboulakis Gallery, Athens (1970, 1980, 1984, 1987) | Galleria Santa Croce, Florence (1972) | Galleria Giulia, Rome (1973) | Galleria d’ arte San Marco dei Giustiniani, Genova (1973) | Trosa Kvarn Gallery, Trosa (1987) | Vellideio, Thessaloniki (1989) | Château de Chenonceau, Loire Valley (1992) | Gallerie Flak, Paris (1992), etc.

His work was presented in numerous national group shows (1957, 1960, 1965, 1967, 1987), and he participated in more than 30 international Art Fairs and group exhibitions including: Alexandria Biennale (1958, 1966) | Biennale for Young Artists, Paris (1960) | Musée Rath, Genève (1967) | Sao Paolo Biennale (1981) | Europalia, Brussels (1982) | Tokyo International Art Fair (1992) | Art Athina (1995), etc.

 In 1972, he represented Hellas at the Venice Biennale.

Noteworthy is that, at the beginning of his career, in 1958, he won the First Prize of the Young Artists Exhibition, at Zygos Gallery, as well as, in 1961, he won the First Prize of the Pan-Hellenic for Young Artists Exhibition. Furthermore, he was specially chosen to create one of the official posters for the 2004 Olympic Games, organized in Athens.

In parallel with his artistic career, he published many essays on art and poetry.

Remarkable is his presence in the Press, since a wide record of articles extensively refers to him and his work. 

Dimitris Mytaras’ works are to be found in important private and public collections, in established museums, foundations and institutions such as the National Gallery of Greece, the Municipal Gallery of Athens, the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art, the National Bank of Greece and more.

Curator’s note: Moving from critical Realism towards a sort of expressionist Abstraction, while attempting to draw a parallel between metaphysic palimpsests and surrealist insights, Dimitris Mytaras succeeded, undoubtedly, in formulating a genuine and a particularly identifiable personal artistic style.

In the outset of his artistic venture, within his early works, during the period of dictatorship (1967-1974), he was intrigued in commenting critically on Hellenic life through a series of realistic works of limited colour palette and political content, entitled Photographic Documents.

However, in later life he turned towards classical themes, and was involved in an Expressionism-based practice. His canvasses, rich in expressionist elements and details, vivid and intense colours, abstract patterns of form and line, along with acuity and sharpness in perception, exert a powerful attraction that up to date captivates the viewer at once.

His art draws upon the human figure, the conception of which is dominant throughout his work. His compositions are primarily anthropocentric, having portraiture as a starting point.  

The figures perform at the same time as faces and masks. They balance mystifyingly in between pragmatism and ideal, reflecting both styles and qualities that are intertwined all the way through his artistic career and characterize the artist’s personal verbal idiom: Naturalism and Expressionism.

Lively vigorous within the space, elegiastically articulated and structured by the artist, the figures appear as if through a vision, step in front and forward, act as if in the epicenter, push outward their image and appeal, and, inevitably, are converted into allegorical visages yet emblematic and iconic.

In this sense, seductive and secretive, Dimitris Mytaras’ multidimensional complex figures emerge from within and imply each time an enigmatic world where the ephemeral meets the continuing, the longing correlates with wistfulness, the tangible reality comes across utopia.

Calling upon the viewer to discover the lost complicities, Dimitris Mytaras’ pictures seem to arise meaningful existential queries of worldly aspiration, interrelated to individuality and entirety, verity and deception, the modest and the superfluous, from the contemporaneous to what is afar. 

In all stages of his work, the emphasis on visual artistic assets reveals his profound bond with the authentic qualities ​​of painting. Even today, the vibrant texture and the aesthetic power of Dimitris Mytaras’ works still act as an unsurpassed legacy and a sort of central reference point for the Hellenic Modern art, against any overwhelming passage of time.

Nelly Fili 

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