Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris
Purchased from the above by the present owner
In the present work, a young sailor prepares his bag for departure in a humble room. This exceptional work is the amalgamation of two of Tsarouchis' favourite subjects – sailors and colourful still lifes. Tsarouchis' typically shallow, stage-like setting surrounds a more vulnerable, emotive figure than his early depictions of military officers, and anticipates the easy boyishness of Tsarouchis' favourite model of the 1970s, Dominic. The atmosphere of dreamy sensuality heightens the bittersweet subject, and demonstrates Tsarouchis at the apex of his powers of subtle melodrama.
Widely acclaimed as a painter of the Greek people, Tsarouchis' work attempted a reconciliation of Western and Eastern pictorial traditions. Like many of the Greek avant-garde intellectuals and artists of his time, Tsarouchis became actively involved with the popular art movement and the search for Greekness in art. As one of the principal exponents of the Thirties Generation, Tsarouchis embodied in his work this ideal. With a multiplicity of influences from Hellenistic and Byzantine art, the art of the Renaissance as well as the work of Matisse, Theofilos and Kontoglou, and the figures of Karaghiozis shadow puppets, he developed a unique personal style. His extensive travels in Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor and France, where he studied Byzantine music, painting and textiles, and his admiration for the aesthetic of Matisse and Demetrios Galanis greatly influenced his perception and work.
Tsarouchis' initial training was at the School of Fine Arts in Athens under Jakobides and Parthenis, while also working in the studio of Fotis Kontoglou, a religious painter who introduced him to Byzantine art. In 1935 Tsarouchis left Athens for Paris. It was in the French capital that he was able to study the work of the Renaissance masters and French Impressionists. Immersing himself in Parisian art circles, he befriended painters such as Matisse and Giacometti. The present work was painted during Tsarouchis' return to Paris in the 1960s and early 1970s, after which he returned to Greece following the end of the military regime in 1974.
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