By the 1920s European Modernism had opened up a huge variety of aesthetic directions. For Ghika, however, it was the synthetic Cubism of Picasso and Braque that proved decisive. Here he recognised the same principles that underlay the Byzantine art that he cherished: strictness, the geometric, hierarchy (in Marina Lambraki-Plaka, ed., Four Centuries of Greek Painting, Athens, 1999, p. 139). Upon this correspondence he built a uniquely Hellenic form of Cubism that fused traditional Greek heritage with Parisian avant-garde.
By confusing the reading of space, Night Outside a Church takes on the role of pure representation: the analysis and synthesis of the observer's view of objects in space. A nocturnal streetscene becomes a fragmented set within the confines of the canvas; layer upon layer of both pigment and visually descriptive devices build up the scene, and the architectural elements of the composition are united in a disjointed yet evocative and decorative fashion. Each recognisable constituent is superimposed upon yet another constituent or a motif taken from Ghika's Hellenic and Byzantine aesthetic vocabulary.
Not only one of the fathers of Greek modernist painting, Ghika would extend his decorative, planar and Byzantine and Cubist-inspired aesthetic to the world of writing, book illustration, costume design and importantly, stage design. Joint ventures with the Marika Kotopouli Theatre (1937), the New School of Dramatic Art (1938), the National Theatre (1950), the Modern Greek Ballet of Rallou Manou (1950), the Matei School (1952) and Covent Garden in London (1961), were experiences which both complimented and reinforced his acute sense of spatial design and the decorative surface.
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