From 15 February to 17 March, the Municipal Gallery of Athens will host the first retrospective exhibition of Rika Pana’s paintings, entitled “Towards the Light”, which is supported by the Culture, Sports and Youth Organization of the Municipality of Athens (OPANDA), curated by Elisavet Plessa.

The exhibition will present approximately 80 paintings on canvas and paper by the artist. Using an intensely gestural handwriting on a usually monochromatic background, her works bring out the human form in a schematic way to focus on the essence of the issues that concern the artist. Protesting the lack of freedom, denouncing the erosion of culture, the search for identity, human despair and hope are the main axes of the paintings of Rika Pana, now 95 years old.

Rika Pana. From the section “The erosion of culture”, 1970/1971 powders and glue on canvas, 80 × 70 cm.

The painting of Rika Pana (Panagiotopoulou, née Lazani, b. Athens, 1929) is deeply anthropocentric. Her work was shaped by the civil war, the occupation, the dictatorship of the colonels, as well as by the serious health problems she faced from a very young age.

The exhibition begins with the early works of Rika Pana (“Nees Morfes” Gallery, 1962), where the human problem of the modern dead end was already preoccupying her painting. In the 1960s, despite the obvious influences, in form but not in content, of her first teacher Panos Sarafianos, Rika Panagiotopoulou’s work had already acquired a style that was completely personal. The next two sections of the exhibition present works from the two main periods of her work, works she created with the hope and aim of expressing a strong resistance against the oppression and fear of the dictatorial regime. That is why she conceived the idea then that in order to realize such visual protest projects that denounced the suffering of Greece outside its borders, her work should first be presented abroad and then exhibited in her homeland. Thus she presented her mature works first in London (Drian Galleries, 1969), then in Athens (British Council, 1970), again in London (Drian Galleries, 1971), and finally in Rome (Galleri ad’Arte Albatros, 1972). When democracy was restored in our country, Rika Pana turned to a private and solitary creative path, painting continuously until around 2010, works that form the fourth and final section of the exhibition.

View of the Albatros Gallery in Rome at the opening of the exhibition of Rika Pana 15 March 1972

This retrospective presentation follows a linear chronological course, but its four sections contain works created in other periods of Rika Pana’s painting, in order to highlight the eclectic affinities between the visual and ideological axes that run through the artist’s life and work.

The exhibition is curated by Elisavet Plessa and its architectural design is signed by Stavros Papagiannis (Stage Design Office).

The exhibition is accompanied by a large monograph on the work of Rika Pana (Melissa Publications), edited by Elisavet Plessa and designed by Erifili Arapoglou (enARTE). This volume includes texts by Alexandra Ladikou, Christoforos Marinos, Cornelia Navari, Konstantinos Papageorgiou, Titos Patrikios and Elisavet Plessas, as well as a wealth of archival material (photographs, correspondence, publications and reviews in the Greek and foreign press).

Rika Pana with her husband Miltos Panagiotopoulos, at the private presentation of her exhibition, Drian Galleries, London, Tuesday 19 August 1969.

Guided Tours for the public
On Saturday 24 February, Saturday 9 March and Sunday 17 March at 12.30 pm
there will be guided tours open to the public by the curator of the exhibition and the publication, Elisavet Plessa.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Thursday 15 February 2024 at 18:00.

Duration:15 February –17 March 2024
Opening Hours: Tuesday- Saturday 11:00 – 19:00, Sunday 10:00 – 16:00, Mondays closed

Admission is free to the public.

Municipal Gallery of Athens, Building Α:
Leonidou & Myllerou , Avdi Square, Metaxourgio
More Information: 210 5202420|

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