Dimitris Katsigiannis: Approaching Lightness. Anthony and Asia Hadjioannou Collection
Dimitris Katsigiannis (b. 1960) has two homelands, Crete and India, and the distance that separates them is bridged by some 70 works in the exhibition. Exclusively in watercolour, they are recent acquisitions of the Anthony and Asia Hadjioannou Collection, most painted over the period 2011-2014 at Stavros near Chania on Crete (famous as the site of Michael Cacoyannis’s film “Zorba the Greek”), where the artist lives for the greater part of the year, but they also include some of his important older Cretan landscapes, which the Collection had already acquired.
An equally crucial role, however, in the exhibition is played by the many works by Dimitris Katsigiannis, which were also recently acquired by the Hadjioannou Collection and were painted over the period 2007-2013, during extended many-months-long annual visits the painter makes to India. Through these two poles, West and East, both the exhibition and its catalogue will attempt to highlight the painted lines of inquiry that run through, unify and separate the works from Crete and from India and are not limited to an approach focusing on their subject matter.
A painter of what he sees, Dimitris Katsigiannis uses here the road or the stoop of his house as his studio and the landscape as his model. Watercolour is his favourite medium for the ease it offers him in transportation, for its immediacy, transparency and sense of lightness. With more time at his disposal on Crete and less in India he returns to the same landscape and on the same piece of paper incorporating sequentially upon it, as on a fresco, his gaze, time, water and colour. In a constant investigation of composition and form through the light and the vibrations of these two places where he lives and paints, Dimitris Katsigiannis seeks the simplicity of the archaic element both in Stavros and in India.
As these two different places and cultures co-exist in this particular exhibition, the artist states in the catalogue: “People who have visited India say that Stavros gives off a feeling like southern India. People at Stavros are more ‘alternative’ and the rhythms of those who live there match the rhythms of the people in old Greece, which, in turn, match, to a certain extent, the rhythms of India. As to the rest, they are two different places, particularly where the quality of the light is concerned; which consequently changes the quality of colour in my works”.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, bilingual (Greek and English) catalogue, which includes texts by Elizabeth Plessa, Konstantinos Papageorgiou and Dimitris Katsigiannis.
In her introductory text, Elizabeth Plessa writes: “Katsigiannis uses the outdoors as his studio and anything that engrosses him as becomes his model. Beyond a reverie of Japanese engraving; the accuracy of Klee; or the dreamy power of Turner’s watercolours, memory does not play a role in his oeuvre – the moment is present in its entirety when he paints. An elated observer of the world that surrounds him, he utilizes watercolours exclusively, leaving unanswered the question of whether he was led to the outdoors by his love of watercolour or whether his need to avoid the closed space of a ‘normal’ studio led him to watercolour from an early age.”
Konstantinos Papageorgiou notes in his text: “Katsigiannis’s West is Mediterranean, therefore not very western at all. It is, however, modern, in the sense that in many instances we see in his oeuvre people on the beaches, but only a measured few, in that transitory condition we are all familiar with and seek when we are on a ‘break’ or, perhaps, in a state of semi-consciousness in which we ferry ourselves around, consuming the more or less industrialized period which we term summer vacation.”
In the same publication, Dimitris Katsigiannis states: “If from this ball of yarn we pull the thread that constitutes Painting as a language, and contrive to comprehend it, to incorporate it and to live up to its potential, then we encounter another thread that constitutes Painting as a path. During this struggle, the requisite discipline may give birth to a form of freedom and create yet another thread. It is similar to how, on an essentially painted surface, each colour drop has a multiplicity of meanings and serves many levels of viewing (harmony of composition; appropriate tone, which is designated by the locus; a sense of matter depicted; the narrative of the myth; guiding character…).”
Biographical notes of the artist
Dimitris Katsigiannis was born in Drama in 1960. He studied electrical engineering at the Democritus University of Thrace (1978-1983) and, following that, painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1983-1990). He was awarded the Hellenic Foundation for State Scholarships fellowship for domestic post-graduate studies in “Painting from life” (1992-1995). His work has received seven solo exhibitions in Athens. He lives and works in Athens, Chania and India.
Encounters with Dimitris Katsigiannis: An opportunity for exhibition visitors to meet the artist
Dimitris Katsigiannis will be present at the exhibition space during the following dates and times in order to meet with exhibition visitors and guide them around his exhibition:
- Saturday 7th October, 12.30 p.m.
- Saturday 21st October, 12.30 p.m.
Other events that will take place around the exhibition will be announced shortly.