Τhe Megaro Gyzi Festival 2014 raises curtain on Friday 1/8 with the opening of the printmaking exhibition, titled "COPPER ENGRAVINGS: PANAGIOTIS TETSIS & LAMBROS ORFANOS", in which participate with 42 engravings (burin, etchings, aquatints, drypoints, mezzotints) the great Greek artist and Academic Panagiotis Tetsis and the deceased, bosom friend of him, Lambros Orfanos, one of the most important Greek printmakers.
Duration of exhibition: 1 - 23 August 2014
Panagiotis Tetsis, painter - printmaker
Ηe was born in 1925, in Hydra. He settled with his family in Piraeus in 1937, but every summer he returned to Hydra, where he began to paint. In Hydra, he also met Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas and Pikionis, whom he considers his indirect teachers.
In 1940, Klaus Frieslander gives him his first painting lessons and then continues his studies at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1943-1949). A year before graduating, he presents his first solo exhibition, (Romvos Γallery, 1948). In 1951 he begins to teach as assistant at the Freehand Drawing School of the National Technical University Athens, with N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas as head professor.
He continues his studies in Paris (1953-1956) on a Greek state scholarship (I.K.Y.) where, among other courses, he attends engraving with Edouard Goerg at the École des Beaux-Arts. When he returns to Greece, he settles in Athens, where he works until today, sharing his leisure time between Sifnos and Hydra.
The painting topics with which he worked in Paris (Slaughtered Animals, Laundress, Football, etc.) were presented in Athens (Zygos Gallery, 1958), with an exhibition/turning point in his career. It was evident from the outset that his painting had assimilated abstract and modernist characteristics, remaining, nevertheless, figurative. His choice of subject matters, in his works ranging from his large compositions of multiple people to the portraits of friends, seas and still lifes, act merely as excuses for highlighting the pure painterly values.
In his long career, he utilized the compositional, colouring and expressive capabilities of oil painting, but also those of pastel, watercolour and ink. Light characterizes the structure of the composition, as an integral component of colour, even in his black and white works, and especially in his engravings, with their rich shades of black.
He taught in the Designers Dept. of the Athens Technological Group (1959-1962) and was co-founder and teacher of the Independent School of Fine Arts (today Vakalo College of Art and Design) along with Helene Vakalo, As. Bacharian and F. Francescakis (1958-1976).
He was elected Professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1976, where he taught until 1992 (Chancellor since 1989). In 1993 he became a member of the Academy of Athens and in 1999 he was awarded the title of Grand Commander of the Order of the Phoenix.
He has held more than 90 solo exhibitions and has numerous participations in group exhibitions in Greece and abroad. He participated in the Sao Paulo Biennale (1957) and the Alexandria Biennale (1959). His retrospective exhibition, 35 years of painting (Pieridis Art Gallery, 1992), was also presented at the Municipal Galleries of Mytilene, Patras, Kalamata, Chania and Rhodes. More retrospective exhibitions took place in the Athens National Art Gallery (1999), Florence, Cyprus and elsewhere. Four books with his writings and several of his articles have been published.
Prints of P. Tetsis from the exhibition:
Lambros Orfanos, printmaker - painter
Lambros Orfanos was born in Athens on 26th October 1916, in the midst of WWI. He died in Athens in 1995. From a young age he had shown an innate inclination to all forms of art and it was a fortuitous visit to an art exhibition when he was an adolescent that played the determining role in his sensitivity towards and what sparked his interest in art.
In 1938, he succeeded in entering the School of Painting in the Athens School of Fine Arts (A.S.F.A.), where he originally studied and was taught by Umbertos Argyros and Epameinondas Thomopoulos for four years. In 1943, after having got his degree in Art, he enrolled in the School of Engraving, where he studied for another 4 years having at his side the teacher Yannis Kefallinos until 1947. Kefallinos, who was constantly seeking perfection, always taught the well-rounded and austere technique, of which he had a full command. This is the reason why his students, irrespective of their artistic capabilities gained first of all technical skill. He also studied History of Art with Pantelis Prevelakis as his teacher and after having got his degree in Theoretical and Historical Studies served as Faculty Head.
In 1947, having graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts, he entered the civil service as Teacher of Arts in a high school in Northern Greece. However, he resigned from his post at the end of the academic year. Post-war living conditions and his restless spirit did not give him room for adjustment. Thus, in 1948 he returned to Athens.
The year 1949 brought two major changes to his life. The first was that he found employment with the Bank of Greece as Chief Supervisor of the Engraving Department of the Hellenic Foundation for Printing Banknotes and Bank Bonds (I.E.T.A.) as a result of a public sector job vacancy. What is characteristic and stands out is that this offer for work in the public sector was repeated three times and in all three times the artist came up on top of the rest. Before announcing the job competition, the Bank of Greece had asked the School of Arts, and particularly Kefallinos himself to bring the bank in contact with students who had shown outstanding performance in engraving so as to be offered employment in I.E.T.A. That was when Kefallinos recommended Lambros Orfanos.
In the same year (1949), he married Elli Mourelou, who herself was an artist and a mosaicist and with whom he had a son much later (in 1961). In 1952, he passed his exams in the Hellenic State Scholarships Foundation and received a scholarship for post-graduate studies in Paris. It was the first time that the foundation had given a scholarship for post-graduate studies to an artist of graphic arts.
In Paris, he studied in the School of Engraving at the École des Beaux-Arts under the instruction of professor Robert Cami. During his studies, he was honoured with the second and third place prize in engraving in 1953 and in the next year with the first place prize. In parallel, during this period, he studied at College Technique Estienne (Arts et industries du livre) where he added to his knowledge the art of bookmaking, the engraving of postage stamps and letters on bank bonds under the instruction of Professor Rene Cottet. He also observed printing procedure at the Imprimerie Nationale des Timbres Postes in Paris. Cami’s teachings had a significant effect on Lambros Orfanos’ technique, something the artist was quick to acknowledge. But the teacher himself, having recognized the knowledge and ability of his Greek student in burin, openly expressed his wonder by characteristically saying: ‘What are you doing here? I have nothing to teach you!’
In the same period, he again found himself among his friends in France who were also artists and engravers, such as the famous Greek painters and engravers Panagiotis Tetsis, Yannis Gaitis and Kostas Grammatopoulos. Orfanos particularly loved Paris, which was the city that charmed him and significantly inspired his artistic creations. We could hear him say with nostalgia: ‘Paris is the centre of art. Just a walk down its streets is enough for one to feel that everything in this city goes hand in hand with art.’
In that period, the artist also worked on the art of postage stamps. Apart from the three Greek postage stamps which he produced as a sample of his work presented to EL.TA. (Greek Postal Service), he also engraved three French postage stamps as well as one for Cameroon, Gabon and Ivory Coast, which circulated with his teacher’s (Cami’s) signature due to the fact that as a foreigner he did not have the legal right to be commissioned such a task. In the same period, he also engraved the 10-dollar banknote for the bank of Canada.
After the completion of his post-graduate studies, he returned to Greece and continued his duties for the I.E.T.A., where he engraved an entire series of circulated bank bonds on steel. The bank originally sent Orfanos together with Alexandros Korogiannakis to Brussels in 1963 and, after the death of the latter, he was sent on his own at least three times to Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France so as to familiarize himself with the new method of engraving using steel plates in the use of the new printing machines, which the I.E.T.A. had just acquired.
The artist also occupied himself with the minting of coins. In particular, he designed templates for Greek coins from 1973 to 1976 and he made the original dies out of steel, firstly in cooperation with Ioannis Stinis and later with the sculptors Theodoros Papagiannis and Nikos Perantinos. He retired and received his pension from the Bank of Greece on 1st January 1977.
The multifarious persona of Lambros Orfanos within 35 years of creative work covers a wide range of activities, which began with art and engraving and expanded to include scenic design, book and magazine illustration, the creation of various documents and posters and in general an involvement in all forms of graphic art. In 1961, he was indeed honoured with first prize for best poster having as its subject the General Census. As a scenographer, he created the scenery for a number of performances which were promoted by the theatrical group ‘Greek Comedy’ by V. Argyropoulos in Athens, such as H. Ibsen’s ‘An Enemy of the People’ and G. Xenopoulos’s ‘It’s not me here’.
In 1959, Lambros Orfanos declared his candidacy for the post of Professor of Engraving in the Athens School of Fine Arts, but -as it is known- Kostas Grammatopoulos, who was also a student of Kefallinos and who had the same age and studies in Paris as Lambros Orfanos, was eventually chosen for the post.
From 1948 and on, he took part in eight Panhellenic Art Exhibitions (1948, 1952, 1957, 1960, 1963, 1967, 1971 and 1973) and from 1951 to 1969 he participated in every exhibition of the Bank of Greece Employee Guild. He also took part in many international exhibitions (Paris, Lugano, Santiago, Biennale of Alexandria, Biennale of Sao Paulo, Stockholm, Israel, Romania, etc.). In the Biennale of Alexandria in 1957, he was awarded an honourable mention for his work ‘Birds’.
He was a member of the Hellenic Chamber of Fine Arts, of the Free Artists Society of Paris, of the Salon d’Automne and of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts Department of Engraving. His work can be found in various private and public collections and museums in Greece and abroad.
Lambros Orfanos ranks among the top printmakers of his time and his invaluable contribution to modern Greek art of engraving has finally met with the recognition that he deserves in the history of Greek art.
Prints of L. Orfanos from the exhibition: