The municipality of Athens presents a large retrospective exhibition of the painter George Ioannou (1926-2017) at the Municipal Gallery of Athens from November 30, 2022 to January 29, 2023. The exhibition “George Ioannou: internal route”, organized by the Organization of Culture, Sports and youth of the municipality of Athens, brings together works from all periods of the famous painter. In the two buildings of the gallery, more than 150 paintings, oils and monotypes are exhibited, as well as archival material, notebooks, objects and dozens of drawings in display cases. Visitors have the opportunity to follow the evolution of the painter, from the drawings he made during the occupation, to the last works of 2008, when he stopped painting.
George Ioannou (1926-2017) was a painter-storyteller, an existential painter with rare narrative skills, a painter-writer who understood the function of reading and highlighted its value through painting. Every painting by John is also a page, or at least so it should be treated: as a densely written page in which the painter attempts to render the summary of his (personal) world, a world absurdly rational. As he repeatedly stressed, this inner world or life is the content of his work. The fact that these “pages” are presented today in a retrospective exhibition further intensifies the elements of storytelling and writing that characterize his painting.
Like illustrated comics, John’s painting is eminently narrative. If we had to look for its origin, we would end up in the Byzantine icon, where there is a corresponding condensation of space and the narrative is structured through different levels and episodes. John’s fictional painting focuses on man and actuality. In one sense, the painter discovered the narrative gifts, the immediacy and the special resonance of Byzantine painting in contemporary comics, where there we find succession and sequence between images. Ioannou characterized his relationship with comics as coincidental, a relationship that should be considered as a natural continuation of his searches and experiments with various narrative techniques.
George Ioannou was at the same time a painter-collector, in the sense that the painting space in his paintings is a fantastic museum, a cabinet of curiosities containing all sorts of strange images and objects. In his paintings there are also Cities, real and fairy-tale, in fact the memories of the cities in which he lived, exhibited and traveled. His painting, much of it at least, is an underground critique, a protest against the “deterioration of things”, accompanied by nostalgia and bitterness for what has been irretrievably lost and which return to his works as mournful symphonies or reminders, like the lampposts that tore them from the streets of Athens. The symbolism in John’s paintings is carefully thought out and stems from memories and (traumatic) experiences starting from the years of the occupation and the Civil War.
The exhibition is curated by Christoforos Marinos, art historian, curator of exhibitions and activities of the Organization of Culture, Sports and youth of the municipality of Athens.
The opening of the exhibition will take place on Wednesday, November 30, 18:00-22: 00
Exhibition duration: November 30, 2022-January 29, 2023
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-19:00, Sunday 10: 00-16: 00, Monday closed.
Admission for the public is free.