Personaggio con fiore
oil on canvas
signed lower left
signed, titled and dated 1959 on the reverse
86 x 73 cm
private collection, Rome
private collection, Athens
Rome, L’Obelisco Galleria d’Arte, 1959, no 44
The painting carries the original L’Obelisco Gallery exhibition sticker on the reverse
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Personaggio con fiore
Formerly the property of an Italian collector, acquired from Irene Brin, the owner of the famous L’Obelisco Gallery, Personaggio con fiore is a painting of expansive energy, vibrant colour and expressive thrust. It is a powerful avant-garde work which conveys a sense of joy, wonder and a zest for life. With creative freedom, the artist devised an innovative vocabulary of form transforming fragments of the real and the imaginary into images of eternal value.
The art critic G.C. Argan, who prefaced Kessanlis’ 1957 L’Obelisco Gallery show spoke of the artist’s ‘barbaric byzantinism’. “There is an element of reciting or dancing in these aggressive paintings; a persistent desire for movement according to some sort of inner rhythm that leaves behind something more than a mere image: the glowing or luminous line of movement”.
In this exquisite work of floating biomorphic shapes, sparkling colours and curvilinear forms, Kessanlis demonstrates his restless creativity and inexhaustible metamorphic invention.
Nikos Kessanlis was born 1930 in Thessaloniki.
Between 1944 and 1948 he studied with Yannis Spyropoulos and later enrolled at the School of Fine Arts, Athens in the studio of Yannis Moralis where he graduated in 1955.
He continued his studies in Rome, on a scholarship from the Italian government at the Istituto Centrale del Restauro while also taking lessons in mural painting and engraving at the Scuola delle Arti Ornamentali di San Giacomo.
In the early 1960s, he moved to Paris and in 1981 returned permanently to Greece. A year later he was elected a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Athens, where between 1992-1996 he held the position of rector (in the sphere of academia this is the highest academic position).
In the 1965 Paris Biennale, Kessanlis used an intermediate screen on which the shadows of the visitors were projected. This work established him internationally as one of the greatest artists of European modernism.
In 1959 he received the Amadeo Modigliani Award, in 1961 an honourable commendation at The Sao Paulo Biennale and in 1997 first prize at the Salon de Montrouge.
Kessanlis held more than 30 solo exhibitions, in Greece and abroad. He has shown his work in numerous international group exhibitions, such as the 1958 and 1976 Venice Biennale, the 1961 and 1963 Sao Paolo Biennale, the1961 ‘Peintres et Sculpteurs Grecs de Paris’, Musee d'Art Moderne Paris, and the 1964 ‘Three Proposals for a New Greek Sculpture’ in Venice. In 1988, together with Vlassis Caniaris, he represented Greece at The Venice Biennale.
His work is found in many public and private collections in Greece, Italy, France and internationally. Notably at the National Gallery of Greece, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, the Vorres Museum, Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Torino, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Rome, Musee d'Art Moderne, Sao Paolo, and the Museum of Modern Art, Miami.