Halepas returns to Tinos, his homeland. An exhibition about the leading Greek sculptor on his island, the island of marble and the exceptional marble workers. The work and the legendary life of Yannoulis Halepas may still dominate Tinos, but this summer the exhibition “Halepas-The sculpture’s highest lesson” which will remain open until October 16, 2023, makes the presence of the leading Greek sculptor even more intense on his island. The exhibition, which already welcomes visitors from all over the world, brings together two extremely important sets of works by Yannoulis Halepas: the collection of the Cultural Foundation of Tinos and the collection of the Onassis Foundation.
The exhibition “Halepas-The sculpture’s highest lesson”, curated by Alexandra Goulaki-Voutyras, gives us the unique opportunity to follow the artistic path of the leading creator, from his first works to his mature production in Athens, through 30 works that mark his third artistic period and are included in the collection of the Onassis Foundation. Principally, in this exhibition we can better understand the “new” Halepas, as the “sculpture’s highest lesson” (according to Dimitris Pikionis) concerns the approach and understanding of the sculptor’s creative path, especially when he returns to the island and his art after a long and dramatic work stoppage of 40 years. What were the reasons and circumstances, why did he turn to clay and where did his art lead, ending up in the important works of the last period he created in Athens? Despite the difficulties, old and new, in his life, we follow the “new” Halepas emerge with a shocking effort and commitment to the research of the “essence” of sculpture, as he understood it.
After the exhibition “Yannoulis Halepas: Debits and Credits”, held in the spring of 2022 at the Teloglion Foundation of Arts in Thessaloniki, in collaboration with the Onassis Foundation, the works of the great sculptor travel to the place where he was born, lived and inspired, creating an exhibition that comes to cover a large part of his artistic creation.
In Tinos Town, the Halepas collection of the National Institute of Sacred Eyaggelistrias Tinos, housed on the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, includes the most important set of sculptures from the artist’s first and, above all, his second period, when he returned to the island after his hospitalization in the Psychiatric Hospital of Corfu in 1902. There Halepas creates a work different from that of his youth, of special importance to the Modern Greek sculpture. “His current works display a primitive art. In these I discerned the line, the imagination and the trend of modern art” writes the sculptor Thomas Thomopoulos in 1922, after his visit to Tinos. And he continues: “It will be an honor for Greece, for the whole world and above all for Tinos, the care of saving the works of Halepas”. Among his works was the impressive Fairy Tale of Sleeping Beauty, as well as Satyr and Eros (three exceptional early versions), The Sleeping Ariadne, The Herodias, Alexander the Great alive and dead, which are treasures and works of reference for Modern Greek sculpture.
The Onassis Foundation could not be missing from the exhibition. It is imposed, after all, by the wealth of Halepa’s works at the Foundation’s disposal: a large set of sculptures, drawings, prototypes and casts from the most important collection of the sculptor’s oeuvre, the one of his nieces, Vassilis and Eirini, who hosted him in Athens in the period 1930-1938. From the collection of the Onassis Foundation, the emblematic work Oedipus and Antigone, his first sculpture after settling in Athens, two attempts on the subject of Satyr and Eros (no. X, 1931, and XII, 1936), the portrait of his niece’s Eftychia containing his self-portrait on the back, The Sleeping Girl in the so-called “Streffi model” (1937) etc, are exhibited for the first time in Tinos Island.
The curator of the exhibition, Alexandra Goulaki-Voutyras, declares: “The exhibition “Yannoulis Halepas-The Sculpture’s Highest Lesson” unites two sets extremely important for the artist’s oeuvre: the collection of the Cultural Foundation of Tinos which contains works from the first and mainly the second period of Halepas (the period of Tinos) and the collection of works of the Onassis Foundation, containing works from the artist’s second and third period. By bringing together almost all surviving works of Halepas from the second period on the island of Tinos (1918-1930) we can trace the continuity of his creative output in Athens (see works in the Onassis Foundation collection). Above all, along with testimonies of the archival materials, we can understand in greater depth the considerable turn in Halepas’s oeuvre when he tackles his art again in Tinos Island• to realize the role of the material, but also of the obstacles that led to the formation of the plastic language of the “new” Halepas. The genius creator, with an almost disarming innocence in his ascetic isolation on the island, investigates and transforms the difficulties into a new way of expression, generously offering us the “sculpture’s highest lesson”, according to Dimitris Pikionis.
Evangelos Paraskevas-Gizis, President of the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, explains: “The inauguration, in 2005, of the permanent exhibition of works by Yannoulis Halepas at the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, with the transfer of the collection of the National Institute of Sacred Eyaggelistrias Tinos to its building, in a hall which took the name of the great Tinian sculptor, is the beginning of an interrelated relationship between the then newly established Foundation and the work of Halepas. The constant care of the Cultural Foundation of Tinos is the preservation of the works that have been graciously granted to it, their presentation in a space accessible to all with means that facilitate the understanding of the art of Halepas and its transformation into an unquenchable beacon of knowledge of the pioneering work and the particularly tortured life of the multi-talented Yannoulis. Simultaneously, the Foundation takes care of the study of the entire work of Halepas and the promotion of his artistic heritage through publications, conferences and participation in exhibitions dedicated to it. The immediate response of the president of the Onassis Foundation, Mr. Antonis Papadimitriou, both for the loan of the Foundation’s works and for the support of our initiative, as well as the offer and the scientific contribution of the professor of AUTH and director of Teloglion Foundation of Arts, Mrs. Alexandras Goulaki-Voutyras, lead to the realization of the exhibition “Yannoulis Halepas-The sculpture’s highest lesson”.
Antonis S. Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, states: “By kindly lending works to Tinos, we are renewing interest in a great modernist of his time. We thus participate in a dialogue between great works, so that the final recipient is the visitor. It is an honor due to him, his birthplace and the folk tradition within which he created. In Yannoulis Halepa’s Tinos we offer a piece of his own “donation”, thanks to the excellent collaboration with the Cultural Foundation of Tinos and the valuable assistance of curator Alexandra Goulaki-Voutyras. We owe both of them special thanks and sincere respect.”
The curator of the exhibition, Alexanra Goulaki-Voutyras
In an exclusive guided tour for the Days of Art in Greece, by the Head of exhibitions of the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, Athina Petkovic, we discovered- thanks to the emphasis she placed on the detail of the work – all the periods of Halepas’s creative work. Satyrs, eros, mermaids and Venus speak to us through marble, clay, bronze and appear in both dimensions through the artist’s rare drawings.
As Mrs. Petkovic explains to us, we can see that as Halepas matures, the works become “perforated” in a sense, they are complex volumes that are deconstructed.
As Yannoulis Halepas himself said, “Whatever breaks in the sculpture, due to some accident, is no longer needed by the work”, thus demonstrating a new era with the elements of composition and deconstruction taking a strong presence.
As Mrs. Petkovic mentions, his whole life was a succession of obstacles: his family opposes his work, he loses scholarships, he loses the first prize for Satyr and his mental composition weakens.
Fairy tales, Medeas, satyrs, heroes, and his own beloved nieces, Eftychia, Mariana and Irini define the supreme mysticism in his work. “In the Medeas he creates, the most important moment of Medea is the moment of decision and not of slaughter,” avers Mrs. Petkovic. She herself is proud to be from Tinos and to be in charge of the Foundation’s Collection. They have been working with Mrs. Alexandra Goulaki-Voutyras since 2005 when the permanent collection was first created. “The Secret” is her favorite work along with Medea.
“The disproportionate works of the second period,” he explains, “contain “The Secret” within them. Halepas has the great talent of realizing a concept that cannot be attributed; he also manages to visualize the Humane Thought.
Mrs. Petkovic informs us that the Tinian marble workers have been invited from time to time to make some of Halepas’s clay works in their marble versions, something that does not come in fruition because they irrevocably declare: “You do not touch Halepas”, “We do not graze God”.
Painters and sculptors come and study his work. Mrs. Petkovic familiarizes the students with the space and the permanent collection.
The director of the Foundation, Markos Vidalis, spoke to us about the successful history and success of the Cultural Foundation of Tinos: “The building, originally an old luxury hotel, was built in 1926 by the Greek businessman of Alexandria, Argyris Viridakis, and was originally called Hotel Viridakis. In 1930 it was taken after an auction by Polymeris, a rich man from Zagora, in Pelion, as a bequest to Zagora. Since then it was also turned into a hospital, and then it became an orphanage for war orphans, then some Romanian residents stayed in 1950-1960. It housed public services until 1977 when it was bought by the National Institute of Sacred Eyaggelistrias Tinos.
It was handed over to Culture as a conference and exhibition center.
Every year we present the permanent exhibition as well as seasonal exhibitions.
The Foundation receives donations from contemporary Tinian artists whom it presents and exhibits. We organize important Music Festivals, like the Jazz Festival every August and of course educational seminars about the arts and the new trends in them.
The Cultural Foundation of Tinos has an international dimension, many people vacationers now combine their holidays on the island of Tinos with a visitation to the Foundation, its exhibitions and its events”.
The exhibition is under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and is organized by the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, with the support of the Onassis Foundation and the cooperation of the Teloglion Foundation of Arts of AUTH.
Curator of the exhibition: Alexandra Goulaki-Voutyras. 10 June – 16 October 2023 І The Cultural Foundation of Tinos Building, Tinos Town
The Cultural Foundation of Tinos, Tinos Town
Akti G. Drosou | 2283 029070
Exhibition duration: June 10 – October 16, 2023
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: 9:00 – 14:30
Friday – Sunday: 10:00 – 14:00 & 19:00 – 21:30