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Comments on Greek painting, art, contemporary thought

Our blog is an artistic, cultural guide to the Greek landscapes. At the same time it offers an introduction to the history of Greek fine arts, Greek artists, mainly Greek painters, as well as to the recent artistic movements

Our aim is to present the Greek landscapes in a holistic way: Greek landscapes refer to pictures and images of Greece, to paintings and art, to poetry and literature, to ancient philosophy and history, to contemporary thought and culture...
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greek artists, contemporary thought, greek painters, literature, greek paintings, modern greek artists

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

moonless night in the small town...

You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.
Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep.
And you alone can hear the invisible starfall, the darkest-before- dawn minutely dewgrazed stir of the black...


http://yannisstavrou.blogspot.com
Yannis Stavrou, Nocturnal, Hydra Island, oil on paper

Dylan Thomas
Under Milk Wood
(extract)
[Silence]
FIRST VOICE [very softly]


To begin at the beginning:

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and- rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.

Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.

You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.

Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep.

And you alone can hear the invisible starfall, the darkest-before- dawn minutely dewgrazed stir of the black...

Monday, February 8, 2016

the port...

...there is a kind of mysterious and aristocratic pleasure in contemplating, while lying on the belvedere or resting his elbows on the jetty-head, all these movements of men who are leaving and men who are returning...
*
...il y a une sorte de plaisir mystérieux et aristocratique pour celui qui n'a plus ni curiosité ni ambition, à contempler, couché dans le belvédère ou accoudé sur le môle, tous ces mouvements de ceux qui partent et de ceux qui reviennent...

http://yannisstavrou.blogspot.com
Yannis Stavrou, Piraeus Port, oil on canvas

Charles Baudelaire
Twenty Prose Poems
The Port


A port is a delightful place of rest for a soul weary of life's battles. The vastness of the sky, the mobile architecture of the clouds, the changing coloration of the sea, the twinkling of the lights, are a prism marvelously fit to amuse the eyes without ever tiring them. The slender shapes of the ships with their complicated rigging, to which the surge lends harmonious oscillations, serve to sustain within the soul the taste for rhythm and beauty. Also, and above all, for the man who no longer possesses either curiosity or ambition, there is a kind of mysterious and aristocratic pleasure in contemplating, while lying on the belvedere or resting his elbows on the jetty-head, all these movements of men who are leaving and men who are returning, of those who still have the strength to will, the desire to travel or to enrich themselves.


(trans. Michael Hamburger)


Charles Baudelaire
(Prose)
Le Spleen de Paris
Le port


Un port est un séjour charmant pour une âme fatiguée des luttes de la vie. L'ampleur du ciel, l'architecture mobile des nuages, les colorations changeantes de la mer, le scintillement des phares, sont un prisme merveilleusement propre à amuser les yeux sans jamais les lasser. Les formes élancées des navires, au gréement compliqué, auxquels la houle imprime des oscillations harmonieuses, servent à entretenir dans l'âme le goût du rythme et de la beauté. Et puis, surtout, il y a une sorte de plaisir mystérieux et aristocratique pour celui qui n'a plus ni curiosité ni ambition, à contempler, couché dans le belvédère ou accoudé sur le môle, tous ces mouvements de ceux qui partent et de ceux qui reviennent, de ceux qui ont encore la force de vouloir, le désir de voyager ou de s'enrichir.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

His mind moves upon silence...

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post;...


http://greekartists-yannisstavrou.blogspot.com
Yannis Stavrou, Thessaloniki of Colours, oil on canvas

William Butler Yeats
Long-Legged Fly

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post;
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand under his head.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

That the topless towers be burnt
And men recall that face,
Move most gently if move you must
In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
That nobody looks; her feet
Practise a tinker shuffle
Picked up on a street.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
Her mind moves upon silence.

That girls at puberty may find
The first Adam in their thought,
Shut the door of the Pope's chapel,
Keep those children out.
There on that scaffolding reclines
Michael Angelo.
With no more sound than the mice make
His hand moves to and fro.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

there is no sharper point than that of Infinity...

Ah! Must one eternally suffer, or else eternally flee beauty? Nature, pitiless sorceress, ever victorious rival, do let me be! Stop tempting my desires and my pride! The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist shrieks with terror before being overcome...
*
Ah ! faut-il éternellement souffrir, ou fuir éternellement le beau ? Nature, enchanteresse sans pitié, rivale toujours victorieuse, laisse-moi ! Cesse de tenter mes désirs et mon orgueil ! L’étude du beau est un duel où l’artiste crie de frayeur avant d’être vaincu. 

http://yannisstavrou.blogspot.com
Yannis Stavrou, Galatas, oil on canvas

Charles Baudelaire
Paris Spleen
Artist’s Confiteor

How poignant the late afternoon of autumn! Ah! poignant to the verge of pain, for there are certain delicious sensations which are no less intense for being vague; and there is no sharper point than that of Infinity.

What bliss to plunge the eyes into the immensity of sky and sea! Solitude, silence, incomparable chastity of the blue! a tiny sail shivering on the horizon, imitating by its littleness and loneliness my irremediable existence, monotonous melody of the waves, all these things think through me or I through them (for in the grandeur of reverie the ego is quickly lost!); I say they think, but musically and picturesquely, without quibblings, without syllogisms, without deductions.

These thoughts, whether they come from me or spring from things, soon, at all events, grow too intense. Energy in voluptuousness creates uneasiness and actual pain. My nerves are strung to such a pitch that they can no longer give out anything but shrill and painful vibrations.

And now the profound depth of the sky dismays me; its purity irritates me. The insensibility of the sea, the immutability of the whole spectacle revolt me…Ah! Must one eternally suffer, or else eternally flee beauty? Nature, pitiless sorceress, ever victorious rival, do let me be! Stop tempting my desires and my pride! The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist shrieks with terror before being overcome.

(translated by Louise Varèse)

Charles Baudelaire
Petits poèmes en prose
Le Confiteor de l'Artiste

Que les fins de journées d’automne sont pénétrantes ! Ah ! pénétrantes jusqu’à la douleur ! car il est de certaines sensations délicieuses dont le vague n’exclut pas l’intensité ; et il n’est pas de pointe plus acérée que celle de l’Infini.
Grand délice que celui de noyer son regard dans l’immensité du ciel et de la mer ! Solitude, silence, incomparable chasteté de l’azur ! une petite voile frissonnante à l’horizon, et qui par sa petitesse et son isolement imite mon irrémédiable existence, mélodie monotone de la houle, toutes ces choses pensent par moi, ou je pense par elles (car dans la grandeur de la rêverie, le moi se perd vite !) ; elles pensent, dis-je, mais musicalement et pittoresquement, sans arguties, sans syllogismes, sans déductions.
Toutefois, ces pensées, qu’elles sortent de moi ou s’élancent des choses, deviennent bientôt trop intenses. L’énergie dans la volupté crée un malaise et une souffrance positive. Mes nerfs trop tendus ne donnent plus que des vibrations criardes et douloureuses.
Et maintenant la profondeur du ciel me consterne ; sa limpidité m’exaspère. L’insensibilité de la mer, l’immuabilité du spectacle me révoltent… Ah ! faut-il éternellement souffrir, ou fuir éternellement le beau ? Nature, enchanteresse sans pitié, rivale toujours victorieuse, laisse-moi ! Cesse de tenter mes désirs et mon orgueil ! L’étude du beau est un duel où l’artiste crie de frayeur avant d’être vaincu.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Farewell - Happy New Year 2016...

and bid her farewell, the Greece you are losing...
Happy New Year 2016...


http://yannisstavrou.blogspot.com
Yannis Stavrou, Acropolis landscape 1970, oil on canvas

Constantinos Cavafy

The god forsakes Antony

When suddenly, at the midnight hour,
an invisible troupe is heard passing
with exquisite music, with shouts --
your fortune that fails you now, your works
that have failed, the plans of your life
that have all turned out to be illusions, do not mourn in vain.
As if long prepared, as if courageous,
bid her farewell, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all do not be fooled, do not tell yourself
it was a dream, that your ears deceived you;
do not stoop to such vain hopes.
As if long prepared, as if courageous,
as it becomes you who have been worthy of such a city,
approach the window with firm step,
and with emotion, but not
with the entreaties and complaints of the coward,
as a last enjoyment listen to the sounds,
the exquisite instruments of the mystical troupe,
and bid her farewell, the Alexandria you are losing.

((C) George Barbanis)

*
 Cavafy, one of the most prominent Greek poets, was born on April 29, 1863 and died on the same date in 1933 in Alexandria (Egypt). Here's a short biographical note by the poet himself:

I am from Constantinople by descent, but I was born in Alexandria -- at a house on Seriph Street; I left very young, and spent much of my childhood in England. Subsequently I visited this country as an adult, but for a short period of time. I have also lived in France. During my adolescence I lived over two years in Constantinople. It has been many years since I last visited Greece.

My last employment was as a clerk at a government office under the Ministry of Public Works of Egypt. I know English, French, and a little Italian.