Ode to the Greek Light and Landscape

Works by Dimitris Diamantopoulos.

As the summer came to a close and we find ourselves in the full swing of autumn, we saved the work of Dimitris Diamantopoulos to share with you in a single virtual exhibition titled Ode to the Greek Light and Landscape: Works by Dimitris Diamantopoulos. Diamantopoulos’ works, created between 1990 and 2020, serve as the ideal visual hymn to the Greek landscape, and most importantly, to Greek light. The artist’s use of acrylic, egg tempera, lazure, and lithography allow him to play with color density and intensity, as well as with texture. Through this method of painting, Diamantopoulos has managed to capture even the most elusive aspects of the Greek natural landscape and present them on paper. As a result, his paintings bring to mind passages from books and poems dedicated to describing those very natural elements alongside all the feelings they can evoke.

For this reason, Ode to the Greek Light and Landscape presents Diamantopoulos’ works depicting areas from the region of the Northern Peloponnese alongside poems and excerpts on the Greek landscape and phos [light] by Greek as well as foreign masters of the written word. As every art form is interconnected, and altogether connected with life and the world at large, this exhibition can give you the opportunity to delve into two forms of art at once: painting and writing. It is sure, as a result, to also bring back a bit of that summer sweetness for just a little while longer as we slowly transition seasons again.

On a closing note, the end of this year will coincide with the celebration of 200 years from the declaration of the Greek Revolution for independence of 1821. On occasion of this anniversary, we symbolically asked the artist to present us with twenty-one works which you will see exhibited.

This exhibition is co-curated by Nicholas Alexiou, Founder and Director of the Hellenic American Project at Queens College, New York, and Tiffany Apostolou, Curator and Art Historian.

Καθώς το καλοκαίρι έφτασε στο τέλος του για αυτή τη χρονιά και βρισκόμαστε εν μέσω φθινοπώρου, φυλάξαμε τα έργα του Δημήτρη Διαμαντόπουλου για να μοιραστούμε με όλους σας σε μια ακόμα ηλεκτρονική έκθεση με τίτλο Ωδή στο Ελληνικό Τοπίο και Φως: Έργα του Δημήτρη Διαμαντόπουλου. Τα έργα που δημιούργησε ο Διαμαντόπουλος μεταξύ 1990–2020, λειτουργούν ως ένας εικαστικός ύμνος προς το Ελληνικό τοπίο, και ακόμα περισσότερο προς το Ελληνικό φως. Η χρήση ακρυλικών, αυγοτέμπερας, της τεχνικής της λαζούρας, και της λιθογραφίας ο καλλιτέχνης κατάφερε να συλλάβει ακόμα και τις πιο αόριστες πτυχές του Ελληνικού φυσικού τοπίου. Αυτό έχει ως αποτέλεσμα οι πίνακές του να φέρνουν στο νου αποσπάσματα από βιβλία, και ποιήματα αφιερωμένα στην περιγραφή αυτών των φυσικών στοιχείων σε συνδυασμό με όλα τα συναισθήματα που αυτά προκαλούν.

Έτσι, η έκθεση αυτή παρουσιάζει τα έργα αυτά που απεικονίζουν περιοχές από το βόρειο τμήμα της Πελοποννήσου σε συνδυασμό με ποιήματα και αποφθέγματα που μιλούν για τη φύση, το Ελληνικό τοπίο και το φως, δίνοντάς σας την ευκαιρία να διεισδύσετε σε δύο μορφές τέχνης ταυτόχρονα: τη ζωγραφική και το γραπτό λόγο. Συνάμα, η έκθεση έχει και ως επιπλέον στόχο να αναζοωγονήσει για έστω και λίγο ακόμα χρόνο αυτό το γλυκό αίσθημα του καλοκαιρού.

Τέλος, το πέρας αυτού του έτους θα μας βρει να εορτάζουμε τα 200 χρόνια από την κήρυξη της Ελληνικής επανάστασης του 1821. Για αυτό το λόγο, ζητήσαμε, συμβολικά, από τον καλλιτέχνη να μοιραστεί εικοσιένα έργα του που θα σας παρουσιάσουμε σε αυτή την έκθεση.

Την επιμέλεια της έκθεσης ανέλαβαν ο Νίκος Αλεξίου, Ιδρυτής και Διευθυντής του Hellenic American Project στο Queens College της Νεας Υόρκης, και η Φανή Αποστόλου, επιμελήτρια και ιστορικός τέχνης.

Artist Bio

Dimitris Diamantopoulos is an artist who is now Greece-based but has traveled and worked in the US extensively. He works with a variety of artistic expressions spanning from architectural design, perspectival drawing, and maquette construction through jewelry design where he uses iron, bronze, gold, and silver. Another expression and one he has become well known for is his landscape painting that has been enriched over the years through his aforementioned artistic endeavors.

His landscapes seek the essence of the Greek landscape through color and light. For many years, he has practiced his form of painting which begun through explorations through the conceptual art movement as well as performance. These, particularly during junta, helped him find expression through symbolism, which eventually led him to his renowned paintings of Korinthia and Achaia in Greece. He created an artistic vocabulary, enriched by his studies and influences by works of historical painters whom he considers to be his teachers.

Diamantopoulos’ works have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Greece, as well as various cities in Europe and the United States.

Installation Photos

The Landscape

Ruined walls. Abandonment.
Past forms move about indifferently
Old time without substance
Nothing will change in here anymore.
It is a calm silence do not wait for a response
A March evening that will never return
Without youth, without love, without unnecessary arrogance.
Every March a spring begins.

The book marked on page 16
Next Sunday’s concert program

Left:
Gulf of Patras, Paliovouna
Lithograph,
         15.7 x 11.8 in. (40 x 30 cm).

Right:
Gulf of Patras, Paliovouna
 Lithograph,
11.8 x 15.7 in. (30 x 40 cm).

“The mind ascends to the mountain ridges, stops at the horizon, hesitates within the clouds that crawl up there, and returns. Thus, the horizon ripples following narrowing concentric circles until it reaches our person. Logically, this encirclement should lead to confession, to self-examination. But I remain blind. I feel. Nothing else. A musical state I could say.” George Seferis

Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Vlantousa, Today Stylia
Water-based acrylic and egg tempera on paper,
33.5 x 43.3 in. (85 x 110 cm).

Let me stop here. Let me, too, look at nature awhile.
The brilliant blue of the morning sea, of the cloudless sky,
the yellow shore; all lovely
all bathed in light.

Let me stand here. And let me pretend I see all this
(I really did see it for a minute when I first stopped)
and not my usual day-dreams here too,
my memories, those images of sensual pleasure.

transl. by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, poem by Constantine Kavafy

Mountainous Eastern Aigialia, Area of Arravonitsa, 2nd Study
Lithograph,
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm).

I mainly mean the terms space [choros] and place [topos], with which it is obvious that the landscape maintains a conceptual dependence […] The term landscape [topio] is a product of the phenomenological approach of a place [topos]. A geographical area can be approached as it is presented by its observer. The observer is simultaneously a part of the study but also its subject, both viewer and viewed.” Panayiotis Doukelis, Athens: Estia, 2007

Left:
Acrocorinth
Water-based acrylic (?) on lithograph
19.7 x 15.8 in. (50 x 40 cm).

Right:
Acrocorinth
Lithograph,
15.8 x 15.8 in. (40 x 40 cm).

Image one
Restless nighttime river
and broken brushes.

Image two
The warm nights of loneliness,
along the wall, he descends
into the hell of the vineyards
and dreams of
bright flowers on the open sea.

In dark cells
with humble hands
underneath the mossy bones
of county sheriffs
he touches the blood
bodiless martyrs
– forgotten innocent in sunless
frontier fields
of slender poplars
and songless nightingales.

Image Three
And when again,
tender in his secret,
he strokes
the mournful tears of women
with sorrowful cicadas hidden
in their long hair
as they slowly ascend
in the hot midday sun,
he tosses his white doves
into the flaming olive grove
with a breeze
the narrow door of heaven
unlocks for a moment.

Image Four
Colors
naked explosions in the dark
restless nighttime river
and broken brushes

Four images
of Dimitris Diamantopoulos

Athens-Loggos 2011
Nicholas Alexiou

Dusk at the Corinthian Gulf
Lithograph,
11.8 x 18.1 in. (30 x 46 cm).

“There were moments when I felt that my soul was embedded within the anonymous crowding of the foundations that penetrated deep into the land, the bulky walls and their arches.” Dimitris Pikionis

Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Zemeno
Water-based acrylic (?) on lithograph
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm).

“But who can narrate justly, what it was for the eyes of a youth that were still covered by the magical peplum of poetry? What did those solitary hikes mean to him? What joy did the view of the excavated soil of the orchards gift his soul under the fiery rays of the sun?” Dimitris Pikionis, Autobiographical Notations

Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Vlantousa, Today Stilia
Water-based acrylic (?) on lithograph
15.8 x 15.8 in. (40 x 40 cm).

«Στην Ελλάδα έχει κανείς την επιθυμία να λουστεί τον ουρανό. Θέλεις να ξεφορτωθείς τα ρούχα, και τρέχοντας να κάνεις άλμα μέσα στο μπλε. Θέλεις να αιωρηθείς στον αέρα σαν άγγελος ή να ξαπλώσεις στο άγριο χορτάρι και να απολαύσεις καταληπτική έκσταση. Εδώ πέτρα και ουρανός παντρεύονται. Είναι η συνεχής αυγή της αφύπνισης του ανθρώπου.» Henry Miller, Ο Κολοσσός του Αμαρουσίου.

Mountainous Corinthia Area of Panorama Above Lygia and Lykoporia
Lithograph,
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm).

«Η μεταμορφική ασβεστολιθική μάζα, ειδίκα εκεί που πετά ψηλότερα από τη κορυφογραμμή των δέντρων σε ερημιά που τίποτα δεν μπορεί να μεγαλώσει, λάμπει σαν ασήμι και δανείζει στις μεγάλες κορυφές, ακόμα και τον Αύγουστο, μια ψευδαίσθηση αιώνιου χιονιού΄και η αιχμηρές και πολύπλευρες πέτρες αντανακλούν το φως με εκθαμβωτική και αδαμάντινη λάμψη. Σε χαράδρες και κοίλες το μεσημέρι, όταν ο ήλιος έχει εξαλείψει κάθε σκιά, ένα ίχνος φόβου είναι παρών.» Patrick Leigh Fermor, Ρούμελη.

Neo Ergo Panorama
Water-based acrylic on lithograph
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm)

«Στην Ελλάδα, οι αλλαγές είναι αιχμηρές, σχεδόν πονούν. Σε μερικά μέρη μπορείς να περάσεις μέσα από τις αλλαγές πενήντα αιώνων στο διάστημα πέντε λεπτών. Όλα διαγράφονται ως γλυπτά, ως χαρακτικά. Ακόμα και οι χερσότοποι αναδύουν μια αιώνια ατμόσφαιρα.» Henry Miller, Ο Κολοσσός του Αμαρουσίου.

Left:
Paliovouna
Lithograph,
15.8 x 15.8 in. (40 x 40 cm).

Right:
Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Kalithea
Water-based acrylic (?) on lithograph,
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm).

«Τα χρυσά και τα κόκκινα φύλλα σκόρπια στην ύπαιθρο σε μεγάλες εκτροπές ψιθύριζαν και γελούσαν μεταξύ τους, ή έπαιρναν σειρές τρέχοντας από μέρος σε μέρος, κυλιόμενες στεφάνες ανάμεσα στα δέντρα. Ήταν σαν να έκαναν εξάσκηση για κάτι, σαν να προετοιμάζονταν για κάτι, και συζητούσαν με ψιθυριστές φωνές καθώς συγκεντρώνονταν γύρω από τους κορμούς των δέντρων.» Gerald Durrell, Η Οικογένεια μου και άλλα Ζώα.

Left:
Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Vlantousa, Today
Water-based acrylic on lithograph,
15.8 x 15.8 cm (40 x 40 cm)

Right:
Stilia  Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Panorama
Water-based acrylic on paper,
19.7 x 15.8 in. (50 x 40 cm)

«Ολόκληρη η Μεσόγειος, η γλυπτική, ο φοίνηκας, οι χρυσές χάντρες, οι μουσάτοι ήρωες, το κρασί, οι ιδέες, τα πλοία, το φεγγαρόφως, οι φτερωτές γοργόνες, οι μπρούτζινοι άνδρες, οι φιλόσοφοι – όλα μαζί μοιάζουν να αναδύονται στη ξυνή, δυνατή γεύση ετούτων των μαύρων ελιών ανάμεσα στα δόντια. Μια γεύση παλαιότερη από το κρέας, παλαιότερη από το κρασί. Μια γεύση τόσο παλαιά όσο το κρύο νερό.» Lawrence Durrell, London: Faber & Faber, 2012.

Neo Ergo Panorama
Water-based acrylic on lithograph
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm)

«Και πιστεύω πως αν έχεις φως, σαν αυτό που έχετε εδώ, όλη η ασχήμια εξαλείφεται. Από τότε που ήρθα στη χώρα σας γνωρίζω πως το φως είναι ιερό. Η Ελλάδα είναι ιερός τόπος για μένα.» Henry Miller, Ο Κολοσσός του Αμαρουσίου.

Left:
Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Panorama
Water-based acrylic on paper,
19.7 x 15.8 in. (50 x 40 cm).

Right:
Mountainous Corinthia, Area Vlantousa, Today Stilia
Water-based acrylic on paper,
19.7 x 15.8 in. (50 x 40 cm).

Romiosini [Greekness]

These trees don’t take comfort in less sky,
these rocks don’t take comfort under foreign footsteps,
these faces don’t take comfort but only in the sun
these hearts don’t take comfort except in justice
This landscape is merciless like silence,
it embraces its fiery rocks tightly in its bosom
it embraces tightly in the sun its orphan olive trees and vineyards,
it clenches its teeth […] (excerpt)

Mountainous Corinthia, Area of Panorama
Water-based acrylic on lithograph
19.7 x 15.8 in. (50 x 40 cm).

She looked at the stars, and they rejoiced,
and they shined her and did not cover her
and from the sea, that she steps on without straining it,
she lifts the stature airily like a cypress,
and blooms my embrace with love and humility,
and showed all beauty and all kindness.
Then from the midday light the night is flooded,
and creation became a temple flooding from everywhere.

Excerpt. Dionysios Solomos, The Cretan, XXI, 1883

Gulf of Patras, Paliovouna
Lithograph,
22.4 x 15.8 in. (57 x 40 cm).

[…]
Emollient the light of October
I drink it. Slowly.
Mixing it continuously
carefully and slowly.
Lest a drop is wasted
from this sense that I am alive,
which I drink slowly.
A very shallow cup
the light of October. […]

Kiki Demoula, Dim Light, 1981

Mountainous Corinthia, Olive Trees in the Area of Panorama
Water-based acrylic on paper,
19.7 x 15.8 in. (50 x 40 cm).

Individual Works


Acknowledgements

We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Ying Zhou, Executive Director of the Tech Incubator at Queens College and Cynthia Lopez who helped us put this exhibition up in the best way we could possibly imagine.

Further, we would like to thank Queens College, CUNY for providing us the virtual space and therefore presenting this exhibition in a new way of experiencing art, when in Covid-19 health restrictions, seeing it in a physical location is not yet permitted.

Nicholas Alexiou, Founder & Director
Tiffany Apostolou, Curator & Art Historian