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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Theo Stavropoulos: Offerings of Light

"Offerings of Light" a memorial exhibition of the paintings and studies of Theo Stavropoulos is being hosted by myself and the Lehman College Art Gallery in Bronx, NY where the artist taught for 25 years.  The exhibition will run from September 3 - 26th.  For further information and the artist's biography, here is the link to the press release: http://www.lehman.cuny.edu/vpadvance/artgallery/gallery/

Update: Here is a link to a review by Xico Greenwald for the New York Sun:
http://www.nysun.com/arts/artists-calling/88398/


Notes about the artist’s works:
 
Theo Stavropoulos, c. 1976.*

After suffering an early introduction to the atrocities of war, a foundation could have been set for a potentially dark existence. But early on, art became Theo’s diary and the theme of inner light his personal arsenal against the abyss of negativity until the end of his life. Theo, who embraced a philosophy that no time barrier actually existed between the past and present, felt that inner light was a pathway to that connection as well as one to humanity.

 A strong religious foundation, revisited later in his life, and two significant mentors had the strongest influence on the evolution of Theo’s work. His earliest mentor was his first art teacher in Greece: Giorgios (Yorgos) Gounaropoulos, a surrealist painter and pioneer in the Greek modern art movement in the 1930’s.  His works encompassed classical elements from antiquity and modernist thought infused into light-flooded, dreamlike imagery  gently abstracted by “Gounaro”.

                                                                            
 Theo Stavropoulos, Shield, 1976.*  Photo by: Eduardo Duarte.


"Landscape" by G. Gounaro, 1935.

Gounaro’s influence is apparent in Theo’s artwork; light as a dominant tool in explaining the coexistence between past and present, resulting in a subtle play between two dimensions.

A painter paints because he has no time not to paint.” ~ Josef Albers

Josef Albers, a pioneer from the Bauhaus school and father of color perception, was another profound influence in Theo’s life and art.  Besides being a father figure to Theo, the tremendous impact of Albers’ philosophy, teachings and disciplines helped to shape the body of his work and subsequent role of teacher.

Albers explored the relativity of color and its endless possibilities within the format of simple geometric confines, the most notable example being in his “Homage to the Square” series.  In Albers’ ground-breaking testament to the magic of color, he focused on color as an infinite entity, not merely as a tool used in defining objects.  It was Albers' mystical thought that profoundly affected the way Theo would ultimately perceive the world without and within and then translate it on to his own canvases. Theo typically only used a minimum palette of colors in his paintings but was able to make a color appear that may not have started out on the canvas to begin with.  This was another example of Albers’ influence.
     "For Dominique", 2001, acrylic on canvas.* Photo by Eduardo Duarte.
 
This exhibition is presented in mostly chronological form, spanning nearly five decades of  the artist’s work. While Theo’s earliest paintings evoked a more gentle homage to classicism in contemporary form,  works produced in mid-life saw an emergence of bolder abstraction, many of his canvases containing an unearthly emission of light. The evolution of Theo’s abstracted figures (both in his paintings and countless notebook studies) are an integral part of this exhibit.  They have taken on many forms; some lyrical and some unapologetically uncomfortable and have been the artist’s constant companions for the last two decades of his life.  Works produced by the artist in his last decade revisited former experimentations with undulating inanimate forms, organic imagery such as in the floral themes, fragmentation of light and finally, his decision to embrace a bolder use of color.
 
Untitled, c. 2000 - 2006, acrylic on canvas.* Photo by Pat Genova.

Theo’s evolution as an artist encompassed constant rediscovery and experimentation combined with the revisitation of aspects of his early artwork.  From his earliest known works containing warm tones and classical elements that reflected his cultural heritage, to seemingly otherworldly imagery in the form of inanimate and human-like apparitions, they are a visual testament to the artist’s  personal journey through life.

Unititled, c. 1990 - 2005, acrylic on canvas.* 
           Unitled, 1991, wash and ink on paper.* Photo by Pat Genova. 
 
                                                                                 
~ Dominique Stavropoulos-Williams
 
This exhibiton is sponsored by Dominique Stavropoulos and curated by Professor Pat Genova, BMCC, CUNY. Special thanks to Susan B. Stavropoulos, Claudio P. Williams and Amei Wallach, Art Critic and Filmmaker.
 
 ~Edited by Kristi Saare Duarte.
 
*Rights for reproduction remain with Dominique Stavropoulos Williams.
 
www.theostavropoulosart.com (currently under construction)