The B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music invites us to explore the idiosyncratic painter Michalis Economou. The exhibition Michalis Economou. The alchemy of painting, curated by Dr. Afroditi Kοuria, brings together one hundred and sixteen works of art reflecting the painter’s magical world. Focusing on landscapes while emphasizing light, color, and clear lines, Economou captivates the viewer with his dreamlike, almost otherworldly paintings.

Byzantine Church, Private Collection

“I want to give feeling, as much feeling as I can….” Εconomou himself asserts, accurately defining his ultimate artistic endeavor. Influenced by several artistic movements such as impressionism, post-impressionism and fauvism, he developed over the years a unique visual idiom.

Mainly inspired by Greek and French landscapes, he depicts countryside houses, old bridges, chapels, and fishing boats with impeccable clarity that reveals his inner world.

His paintings emphatically allude to a sensual world focusing on the subtle and the eternal. His almost obsessively repeated themes and motifs, rigorous brushstrokes, and perception of form, space, light, and the humid element create a universe that at the same time is solid and fluid, where contemplation, soul searching and secrets well-hidden are ubiquitous.

Martigues, Private Collection

Michalis Economou was born in Piraeus in 1888. In 1906 he went to Paris where he studied art, had solo exhibitions, and also took part in many group exhibitions. In 1926 he returned to Greece where he also held solo exhibitions. In 1932, he was admitted to a mental institution, where he died the following year.

This remarkable retrospective paying tribute to Michalis Economou was first exhibited, a few months ago, at the Averoff Museum in Metsovo. Greek News Agenda spoke* with Tatiana Averoff-Ioannou, President of the Evangelos Averoff-Tossizza Foundation .

House in Southern France, Alpha Bank Art Collection

How did the idea of paying tribute to Michael Economou come about?

We had this idea in mind for a long time. Michalis Economou is a great artist, a pioneer of Greek painting, who, strangely enough, almost 100 years after his death, has not had the recognition he deserved. We felt we owed him a major retrospective exhibition. As the years passed, the decision matured at some point and we at the Averoff Gallery decided to take this initiative. We contacted Dr. Aphrodite Kouria, the art historian who is an expert on Economou’s work and she enthusiastically agreed to become the curator of the exhibition. So we embarked on the journey together.

The Red Boat, Private Collection

How did the public respond to the exhibit?

During the three months that the exhibition was in Metsovo, the public response was impressive. The attendance at our Gallery was significantly higher compared to the same period in previous years.  We had a large number of schools, groups and excursionists from all over north-central Greece and even further afield, who reverently followed the tours, expressing a general sense of amazement. Most of them discovered an artist they had never heard before that spoke directly to their souls.

What are those characteristics of Economou’s painting that appeal to the viewer?

I think it is what he had expressed as his deepest aspiration, “to give feeling, as much feeling as I can.” His works have a dreamlike quality, they don’t just capture a house, a tree, or a landscape, but the deeper “idea” of things. Just like music or poetry, Economou’s works generate thoughts and feelings. They take you on a journey inside your own inner world.

Chapel with Cypresses, Private Collection

Which painting would you say stands out from the exhibition and why?

That’s a tricky question. All the works in the exhibition are unique and lovable. So I will say The Dreaming House and Hydra which are the two works that are part of our collection – for the simple reason that I have lived with them since I was a child and they are my first loves.

Sea, Private Collection

Would you like to tell us a few words about the Averoff Gallery?

The Averoff Gallery has been operating since 1988 in the picturesque town of Metsovo in northwestern Greece. It was founded by my father, Evangelos Averoff-Tositsas, who established the eponymous Foundation to which he donated the building and a collection of about 200 works by the greatest Greek painters of the 19th and 20th centuries, considered one of the most important of that time.

Today, after 35 years of uninterrupted operation, the Gallery’s collection has been significantly enriched, the building has been expanded and modernized. It is one of the first museums in the country to receive official certification from the Ministry of Culture. In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibitions of works from our Collection, we organize an annual exhibition, retrospective or thematic, with works from other institutions and individuals and/or a call for works by contemporary artists. For more information on exhibitions, publications, and educational programs, I would invite you to visit our website

*Interview by Dora Trogadi (Intro photo: The Dreaming House, Averoff Museum of Modern Greek Art)

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