Nicos Nicolaou

Nicolaou Nicos
© Zoumboulakis Gallery Archives

He was born in Hydra in 1908 and died in Athens in 1986. He studied Painting at the Athens School of Fine Art (1930-1935), under Umvertos Argyros. He continued his studies in Painting, first in Rome and later in Paris (1937-1938), where he took classes with Charles Guérin at the École des Beaux-Arts. From 1941 until 1946, he gave up painting and worked as an art dealer, an occupation which he pursued until 1948. In 1949, he created a large mural for the Ceremony Hall of the Panteion University. His work in mural painting is extensive (“Theotokopoulos” Club in Herakleion, Crete, Mycenae Tourist Kiosk, Costas Moussouris Theatre, Zoodochos Pigi church on Akadimias Street in Athens). At the same time, he also worked as a set and costume designer, primarily with the Greek Art Theatre Karolos Koun, the Costas Moussouris Theatre, Rallou Manou’s Greek Choreodrama, the National Theatre of Northern Greece, and the National Theatre of Greece. From 1960 and for about ten years, he served as art consultant for the Keranis tobacco company. In 1964, he represented Greece in the Venice Biennale, along with George Zongolopoulos, Spyros Vassiliou, Costas Coulentianos and Nikolaos Ventouras. During that same year, he was elected Professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, a position which he held until his retirement, in 1975. Since then, he dedicated his time exclusively to painting, and lived in his home-studio in Plakakia on the island of Aegina, until his death.


Solo Exhibitions


Drawings 1929-1986 National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – Eynard Mansion Athens


Retrospective exhibition Benaki Museum – Pireos Str. Building (138 Pireos St.) Athens


Museum of Cycladic Art Athens


Retrospective exhibition National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum Athens


Museum of Cycladic Art Athens


Anemos Art Gallery Kifissia


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Athens Art Gallery – Hilton (Athens Art Gallery) Athens


Hellenic American Union Athens


Armos Gallery Athens


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Romvos Gallery Athens


The Drawings of Nicolaou

Nicolaou, since many years, practises drawing not as an end in itself, but as the necessary foundation for each of his paintings. His integrity and his love for art, however, are such that he invests in a drawing the same care that many artists save for their final work. Thus, from Nicolaou’s hand, there aren’t merely countless drawings, most done in Indian ink on paper, but drawings of an excellent quality, that become autonomous and valid as works of art in themselves; that’s how finished they are.

His innate skill in drawing has been elevated, through practice, to a second nature. A new ease, a sharper vision lends wings and certainty to his hand each time he is faced with the castle of the paper. He has thus learned to translate the economy of movement into the economy of the line, the simplicity of means into a wealth of expression, where the outline is charged with content and becomes, literally, description. Without chiaroscuros, without striped shaping, with very few thickenings of the line, he bestows existence, volume and movement to broad-chested, steatopygic figures which, although imaginary, come to life before our eyes in all of their material weight, swirling and twisting in the space they themselves create around them with the bold foreshortenings and the projections he imposes upon them, as if they were racehorses, with two strokes of his pen, their tamer, the painter.

This work of Nicolaou serves as the pedestal for his quests for a painting of much simplified planes that make the most of the two dimensions of the canvas, instead of fighting them. It is natural that such quests, which expand on the experimentations of Matisse’s final years, but with greater austerity since the painter strips them even of the charm of colour, are of particular interest right from the start, from the drawings, in other words, such as the ones depicted here, and whose subsequent fruits we saw in Nicolaou’s recent exhibitions in Venice and in Athens.


Alexandros G. Xydis

* From “Zygos” magazine, April 1965.