Chronis Botsoglou

Botsoglou Chronis
© Jean François Bonhomme

Born in Thessaloniki in 1941, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student (1960-1965) under the tutelage of Yannis Moralis. In 1970 he pursued his studies at the Parisian École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts on a two-year scholarship. In 1989 he was elected professor of Painting at the A.S.F.A., where he was also named Rector (2001-2005) and taught until 2008. In addition to painting, he is also interested in sculpting and printmaking. As of 1964 he has been associated with various political artist groups, such as “Art Group A” (1960-1967), the “Visual Arts Centre” (1974-1976), “Group for Communication and Education in Art” (1976-1981). He was a founding member of the “New Greek Realists” (1971-1973). In addition, he published the following books: “Imerologia Taxidia” (diary journeys) 1994, “Pseudodokimia” (pseudoessays) 2000 and “To Chroma tis Spoudis (the colour of study), 2005 including his writings on arts. In 1998 he published his poems in a collection entitled “Spoudi sto Mavro” (study on black). He lives and works in Athens.

Works

Solo Exhibitions

2018

Landmarks Skoufa Gallery Athens (curated by Giorgos Mylonas)

2018

Memory in Painting National Archaeological Museum – Café Athens (curated by Giorgos Mylonas)

2016

Opposite of the Mountain Travelling exhibition National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – Eynard Mansion, Athens / 2017 National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation (Villa Kapantzis), Thessaloniki

2015

Six Dreams by Yorghos Veltsos and Three Etchings by Chronis Botsoglou 16 Fokionos Negri Athens

2014

Personal Nekyia 16 Fokionos Negri Athens

2013

The Self-Portrait of the Mountain Romanou 7 Gallery Thessaloniki

2011

Erotic 16 Fokionos Negri Athens

2010

Chronis Botsoglou Retrospective exhibition National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) Athens Conservatory Building Athens (curated by Tina Pandi)

2009

Three Portraits Art Space 24 Athens

2009

Citronne Gallery Poros (curated by Tatiana Spinari-Pollali)

2008

99 + 1 Images Metaichmio Multi-Purpose Space Athens

2008

Chronis Botsoglou and the World of Experience Cyclades Art Gallery Syros (curated by Panagiotis Papadopoulos)

2007

99 Images Art Space 24 Athens

2002

Chronis Botsoglou: Personal Nekyia (1993-2000). A Visual Arts Essay on Memory Travelling exhibition Benaki Museum – Central Building (Museum of Greek Culture), Athens / 2003 Famagusta Gate Nicosia Municipal Cultural Centre, Nicosia / 2003 Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art (MOMus – Museum of Contemporary Art), Thessaloniki

2002

Farewell, My Studio Frissiras Museum Athens (curated by Anna Printezi, Martha Chalikia)

1999

The Fruits. The Faces Ekfrasi – Yianna Grammatopoulou Gallery Glyfada

1998

Study on Solitude Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens

1994

Haiku. Illustration Art Space 24 Athens

1994

Diaries. The Faces Agathi Art Gallery Athens

1993

Polyedron Art Gallery Patras

1993

The Woman of Zakynthos Art Space 24 Athens

1992

Stories of An Everyday Mirror Paratiritis Bookstore Thessaloniki

1992

Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens

1992

Ersi's Gallery Athens

1991

Astrolavos Art Galleries Piraeus

1991

Three Portraits Art Space 24 Athens

1991

Retrospective exhibition Vafopoulion Cultural Center Thessaloniki (curated by Miltiadis Papanikolaou)

1991

The Face of Eliza Ekfrasi – Yianna Grammatopoulou Gallery Glyfada

1988

Vellidion Foundation Thessaloniki

1988

Municipal Art Gallery of Rhodes (Modern Greek Art Museum) Rhodes

1988

Diary Pages Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Athens / Vellidion Foundation, Thessaloniki

1987

Prisma Art Gallery Rhodes

1987

Chyssothemis Art Gallery Chalandri

1986

Retrospective exhibition Municipal Art Gallery of Rhodes (Modern Greek Art Museum) Rhodes

1985

Galerie 3 Athens

1985

Athens Art Gallery Athens

1984

Heraklion Art Gallery Heraklion

1983

Watercolours 1961-1964 Yakinthos Gallery Kifissia

1981

Kochlias Art Gallery Thessaloniki

1980

Gazzette Gallery Athens

1980

Ora Art and Cultural Centre Athens

1978

Ora Art and Cultural Centre Athens

1977

Kochlias Art Gallery Thessaloniki

1975

Visual Art Center Athens

1972

Cité Universitaire, Maison Internationale Paris

1970

Athens Art Gallery – Hilton (Athens Art Gallery) Athens

1970

"Techni" Macedonian Art Society Thessaloniki

1964

Centre for Technological Applications Athens

Press

Chronis Botsoglou: Culture Through Dialogue

The works of Chronis Botsoglou in the Sotiris Felios Collection were painted after 1990, representing the most recent period in the artist’s work. The major work of this period is undoubtedly the great polyptych composition entitled “Personal Nekyia” (1993-2000), which was recently exhibited in Athens, Thessaloniki and Nicosia. It consists of 26 paintings, arranged in a particular order to form a circle around the viewer. Most of them are full-scale portraits, slightly smaller than life size, which depict the artist’s relatives or friends who have passed away. The title was inspired by the Eleventh Book of the “Odyssey” and signifies a ritual necromancy, a conversation with the dead in Hades. It is a landmark work in the artist’s career and, with its overwhelming presence, necessarily determines one’s approach to all the works in the collection, both those that belong to the period that Botsoglou calls “the ‘Nekyia’ decade”, and those painted after 2000 that clearly inaugurate a new period in his work. These later paintings, with the general title “References”, are imaginary portraits of 19th and 20th century artists (van Gogh, Bouzianis, Giacometti, Bacon) who, as the artists says, “played a significant role in shaping my artistic awareness”. The series was only recently completed and has not been previously exhibited as a whole.

Botsoglou usually presents his works in thematic units large or small that sometimes follow one upon the other and seem to be illustrating the developmental stages of his artistic quests, and at others are worked in parallel and developed more independently. From time to time, on the fringe of his main painting endeavours, he allows himself to do something else on the side – illustrations, small drawings, watercolours, sculptures or constructions – that supplement the more general picture of his work without necessarily reflecting the main themes that preoccupy him during the periods in question.

The same could also be said for the portraits he has been painting for years. In the Sotiris Felios collection, apart from the “Nekyia”, which constitutes a significant group in itself, there are examples of another two thematic units: the “References”, as noted above, and the “Erotic”, a series that began just before the “Nekyia” and has engaged for artist for 20 years. There are also illustrations, constructions and portraits.

Portraits are Botsoglou’s earliest and most durable category of paintings, one that is a direct reflection of the pre-eminently humancentred nature of his art. He has always been concerned with the composition of the human figure, the face and body of the model and the relationship of all these with the space, as attested by his many self-portraits and by the recognisable figures of living people, who have occupied the greater part of his painting from his earliest exhibitions in the 1960s to the present time. His work as a whole, but also each period separately, can be approached admirably through portraits of his family and friends (or himself) and gradually extended to other parameters related to the further processing of images and concepts. This principle is likewise applicable to the works in the Sotiris Felios collection, which, as a whole, are associated with a significant turning point in the artist’s portrait activities, chiefly in terms of his relationship with the model. The people who were painted in the absence of a model, such as the “Nekyia” and “References”, are differentiated from regular portraits that presuppose direct observation of a live model. The attitude of the artist towards his subject is also differentiated. The portrait of a little girl cannot be treated in the same way as the portrait of an ancestor. When the person depicted has departed this life, his or her image as a rule contains an allusion to the artist’s past (or present), his memories and origins, his personality and the features of his own identity concealed in the identity of his models. The absence of a model intensifies the complex game of identities, a very old element in human-centred art, especially portraiture.

Extensions or variations of this game can be traced throughout all Botsoglou’s works, not solely in his portraits. His thematic or visual choices are dictated by the need to explore his relationships with people and things, with himself, his art, his feelings and his history. Exploration is an adventure in self-knowledge which, with the passage of time, brings the artist closer to the more sombre aspects of life such as loneliness, fear and unanswered questions about love and death. At such moments, experiences of the past, as a human being and as an artist, accumulated pressingly in his memory, seeking an outlet to give them either meaning or form. In “Erotic”, say, artistic style is coupled with experience in a multi-dimensional anatomy of the sensations that are part of erotic love. Meanings do not arise from the scenes depicted, but from the fact of their representation and from the variety of techniques and means of expression that have been marshalled to expand representational capabilities. Here the artist’s visual vocabulary, continuing in the first person, is diffused in the multiplicity of the description. Elsewhere, it settles in a personification that contains the adventure of the journey, as in “References”, or is concentrated in epigrammatic formulations, such as in the small abstract-style illustrations of “Haiku on the Rain, Snow, Wind, Sun and Moon”, a book of three-line Japanese haiku poetry translated by Michel Fais and published in 1994. Each section functions as a different field of dialogue, a different mirror that sheds light on something of the artist’s person, replying to his questions in a fragmentary way.

Botsoglou has always worked this way, which is why one can legitimately speak of the evolution in his work, of its successive phases that are interlinked and lead to increasingly complex formulations. It is not important whether he paints from life or from memory, or whether he expresses himself in realistic or expressionist ways. The stylistic or other changes that can be observed throughout his career stem from the needs of the moment and, in time, become part of a single evolutionary process that remains open to this day. In this sense, then, the works painted by the artist over the past twenty years should not perhaps be regarded as products of a more general maturity, but of a long-term and on-going evolution.

 

Martha-Elli Christofoglou
* From the catalogue of the group exhibition “The Perspective of Time – Pictorial Histories: Paintings from the Sotiris Felios Collection”, Benaki Museum – Pireos Str. Building (138 Pireos St.), 2009.