Select Artists Notes

Michalis Economou
(°1888, Piraeus – †1933, Athens)

Michalis Economou was a talented Greek landscape painter in the impressionist style, who first studied under seascape painter, Konstantinos Volonakis, before leaving for Paris where he combined studies in ship building with painting lessons. His work is characterized by dreamy and quiet landscapes with no or little human presence, often coastal scenes with the light shimmering between sea, sky and reflection that, combined with the smooth outlines, evoke a sense of timelessness, of solitude and of expectation.

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas
(°1906, Athens – †1994, Athens)

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas can easily be considered as one of the leading modern Greek artists. Cosmopolitan, elegant and well-rounded, he created a network of fellow artists and friends in Paris, London, Venice and Rome and got awarded accordingly with memberships in the Athens Academy, the Royal Academy of London, the Tiberiana Academy in Rome while receiving title of Officier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. He exhibited his work for the first time solo in Paris in 1927 followed in 1928 with a duo show in Athens. Throughout his life, he exhibits regularly and internationally to great acclaim and his immediate circle included many of the influential creative personalities and intellectuals of his time.

Periklis Vyzantios
(°1893, Athens – †1972, Athens)

Periklis Vyzantios is a Greek artist who started out in the set way of the 19th Century when promising artists still traveled to Munich in Bavaria, Germany to study, a link that was founded by King Otto, first king of Greece and his entourage of Bavarian architects and artists. Vyxantios quickly turns his gaze towards Paris, the more adventurous and avant-garde center for art. Back in Greece he continues to turn his back to conservative academicism. As director of the Hydra branch of the Athens School of Fine Arts from 1939 until 1963, he attracted many young people to the island drawn from the pool of creative minds at the school and hosted international artists through his Parisian contacts.

Nikos Nikolaou
(° 1909, Hydra – † 1986, Athens)

Nikos Nikolaou is a Greek painter of the Generation of the Thirties. Born on Hydra, the family moved to Athens at the end of World War I where later on Nikolaou was accepted to the School of Fine Arts. Further studies were taken up in Paris and Rome until World War II obliged him to return to Greece. He was a member of various avantgarde artistic groups. Although he never returned to Hydra to live – he choose Aegina instead so that he could commute to Athens where he taught at the Athens School of Fine Arts -, his iconography often referred to his island of birth.

Panagiotis Tetsis
(°1925, Hydra – †2016, Athens)

Panagiotis Tetsis was born on Hydra and grew up locally until the family moved away to Piraeus when hew was 12. He received his degree from the Athens School of Fine Arts and a scholarship for further studies in Paris. Tetsis was a prolific and popular artist who exhibited regularly. From 1951 onward, he filled various teaching positions, most importantly between 1976 and 1991 at the Athens School of Fine Arts where he was elected Dean in 1989. In 1958, he was one of the four founding members of the Vakalo College for Applied Arts. In 1993 he became a member of the Athens Academy. Throughout his life he regularly visited Hydra, staying at the maternal house where he turned one of the rooms into a studio. Following his death, the house with studio intact were bequeathed to the Lazaros Kountouriotos Museum.

Christian Heidsieck
(°1929, Reims – †2000

French born Christian Heidsieck belonged to the very first wave of foreigners to settle on Hydra in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Seeking serenity and authenticity he become disenchanted with the rapid changes on the island throughout the Fitties and decided to move away permanently in 1961 back to his home country.

John Craxton
(°1922 St. John’s Wood, London – †2009, London)

John Craxton was born in an artistic and bohemian family. At an early age, Craxton was introduced to the Soho crowd and Lucian Freud became his close friend. Soon after the end of WWII the two young artists, eager to get out and spread their wings, traveled together to Europe, to Paris, Zurich and eventually Greece. John Craxton had met the Greek artist Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas in London in 1945 but he decides with Freud to spend some time on the neighboring island of Poros. Many more travels to and inside Greece follow, regular and prolonged visits to this friend Ghika on Hydra but it is in Chania, Crete that Craxton loses his heart and settles down in 1960.

Konstantinos (Dikos) Vyzantios
(°1924, Athens – †2007, Mallorca)

Konstantinos Vyzantios, son of Periklis, was born in Athens but following his departure to Paris at the age of 22 on a scholarship, he was mostly associated with the French capital where he spent the rest of his life. His regular visits to his father during the summer created and additional contact between French visitors and the island. He left behind a series of Hydriot landscapes, remarkable for their freestyle and the dilution of from, so different from the artist’s Parisian style.

Sidney Nolan
(°1917, Carlton, Melbourne, AU -†1992, London)

Sidney Nolan was already an acclaimed artist when left this home country for London in 1951. In Australia during the early years, he had finalized his iconic series drawn from legends of Australian history and his hero Ned Kelly, set in the rugged landscape of Australia. Nolan was drafted into the army during WWII but deserted whereas his brother Raymond drowned in 1945. In London, Nolan, who was now married to Cynthia, met up with fellow Australian expats including writers George Johnston and Charmian Clift. Noland adopted England as his home country but continued to travel widely. In 1981 he was knighted. He is considered of of the leading Australian artists.

Timothy Hennessy
(°1925, San Francisco, U.S.A. – † )

Timothy Hennessy is an American artist who spent a lot of time in Europe, mostly between France, Italy and Greece. He very much followed his own style, preferring unstretched canvases and fabrics that he would paint with patterns, stitch together and hang freely in space so that both sides remained visible or use as large capes in art performances. Hennessy first bought a large mansion in the port of Hydra in 1957 that he shared with his French wife and interior decorator Isabelle. The couple also acquired Prospect House, a Georgian Mansion in Kildare, Ireland in 1987. Hennessy collaborated with many of the illustrious names of his time including Alexandros Iolas, Iris Clert, Betty Parsons, Peggy Guggenheim and Andy Warhol.

Ioannis (Wolfgang) Kardamatis
(°1915, Berlin, Germany – †2009, Avignon, France)

Ioannis Kardamatis was born in Germany but raised in Australia where he studied at the National Art School of Sydney. In Paris, he takes lessons at the Academie  Andre Lhote together with American artist Timothy Hennessay. It is the beginning of a long friendship. Kardamatis continues his studies at the Academia delli Belli Arti in Venice where he resides until 1967. He travels extensively but always remains loyal to his Greek heritage, to classicism, Byzantine and Renaissance influences. Kardamatis created the bronze carved and gilded gate to the Villa Iolas in Agia Paraskevi, Athens.

Demetri Gassoumis
(°1933 Oakland, California – †2015)

Although born in America, Demetri Gassoumis’ mother had grown up on Hydra and that is where the artist returned in 1959 with his wife . Traveling between his native California and New York, where he teaches, and the island, where he keeps a studio year-round, Gassoumis is considered a fixture of Hydra and one who gladly helps new arrivals settle in. He exhibited a number of times on the island, landscapes in broad strokes and warm saturated colors, variations on blue, white, red and white. He paints outside directly from nature. After his death, his two daughter bequeathed the contents of his studio to the local Historical Archives Museum of Hydra.

Anthony Kingsmill
(°1926 – †1993, London)

Anthony Kingsmill-Lunn was the son of the British writer and journalist, Hugh. Anthony studied in Paris under Andre Lothe, the French artist and influential teacher and writer on art, spent time as a member of the bohemian Soho set in London, and remained on Hydra from the Sixties onward until his death.

Norris Embry
(°1921 Louisville, KY -†1981 Louisville, KY)

Norris Embry grew up in East Orange, New Jersey outside New York City and in Evanston, Illinois in the Chicago area. In 1947 Embry decided to devote his life to painting and, for the next fifteen years until the early Sixties, he embarked on a nomadic artistic career which would take him from San Francisco to New York, to post-war Europe, as well as Turkey and North Africa. In the late Forties, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy where his teacher, the Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka, was to have a lasting influence on Embry’s work. Amongst the countries in Europe where he took up temporary residence were: Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England and Sweden. It was the Mediterranean culture and climate that struck a chord with his heart and his artistic imagination, and in particular, Greece where he returned frequently. Embry had a number of shows in Athens in the late Fifties.

Marios Loizides
(°1928, Nicosia, Cyprus – †1988 Kalloni, Peloponnese)

Marios Loizides combined East and West, born in Cyprus and educated at the St. Martins’ School of Art in London. He spent a few years in London before moving to Greece where he first settled down in Rafina before making the move to Hydra in 1961. Concerned with form, rhythm and order and with color in its many shades, Loizides’ work becomes gradually more abstract and more spiritual, leading from the end of the Sixties to the mid-Eighties to his major series ‘Arrangements for Contemplation’. Loizides’ works are much appreciated and many ended up in private collections in London, Brussels, Nicosia and Athens.

Brenda Chamberlain
(°1912, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales – †1971, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales)

Brenda Chamberlain decided early on that she wanted to combine her talents for writing and drawing, most famously merging poetry, prose and illustrations in the Caseg Broadsheets, published by her then husband, John Petts, and herself. The young couple was living in a cottage in North Wales when the established the Caseg Press in 1938, printing commercial cards, posters and brochures to make a living in addition to their collaborations with artists and writers. Following her divorce, Chamberlain, not one to shy away from adventure, continued for fifteen years to live an isolated existence on Bardsey Island, off the coast of Wales before moving to Hydra in 1963. She left Hydra following the installation of the Junta to return to her home town of Bangor but could never really adjust again. She committed suicide by overdose, depressed and disappointed, at the age of 59.

Robert Owen
(°1937, Sydney, Australia)

Renowned Australian artist Robert Owen spent thirteen years in Europe after graduating from the National Art School in Sydney, first in Greece (1963-66) and then in London (1966-75) before returning to his home country where he built up a successful career, both as artist and as art educator. Owen exhibited in numerous exhibitions, represented Australia in the 38th Venice Biennale in 1978, is a member of Biennale of Sydney, received several major art awards, and undertook a number of public art commissions. His work, which includes painting, sculpture, photography and installation art, is characterized by color, light, geometric abstraction and metaphysical and symbolic references. Robert Owen lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.

William Pownall
(°1935, Manchester, United Kingdom)

After a childhood spent first in England and then in Australia, William Pownall attended the National Art School in Sydney. Eager to return to Europe and find a place to work, Pownall eventually settled in Hydra in 1963, sharing his first studio with Robert Owen, where he still lives today with his wife and poet, Francesca Meks Tayler. He only left the island for a longer period of time between 1967 and 1976, the years of the Junta. Over those 50 years of residency, Pownall has created an oeuvre consistent in its depiction of Hydra, the light, the elements and its atmosphere of stillness and timelessness. The couple fuses their minimalist aesthetic, matching paintings and titles, poems and images.

Pavlos Pantelakis
(°1914 – †1973)

Following artistic studies in Athens and Paris, Greek artist Pavlos Pantelakis is appointed Director of the Hydra branch of the Athens School of Fine Arts, a position he occupies for 17 years between 1964 and 1981. During those years, Pantelakis tirelessly photographed the island, leaving behind an important historical archive of some 1500 photographs and slides. As a curator of antiquities, he is obsessed with the preservation of the island’s architecture and infrastructure, winning him both followers and enemies. His authority led to the adaptation of a thousand rules, bemoaned by some as an obstacle to the creative growth of Hydra. His paintings and etchings show an academic tendency.

Harry Jacobus
(°1927, San Francisco, California)

Harry Jacobus is an American painter associated with the San Francisco Renaissance of the late Forties through Sixties. In the late Forties, he attended the California School of Fine Arts where he met fellow artist Jess Collins. Together with poet Robert Duncan, the three friends opened the King Ubu Gallery in 1952, known as a space for alternative art, music and poetry. It was there that beat poet Allen Ginsberg gave his first reading of ‘Howl’ in 1955 after the gallery had changed hands and was reopened in 1954 by poet Jack Spicer as the Six Gallery. Jess, Robert and Harry traveled together to Europe in 1955 but split their ways with Jess and Duncan remaining in Mallorca whereas Jacobus continued to Greece and to Hydra where he later on returned to stay from 1966 to 1972. It is on the island that he adapted his large size colorful and abstract paintings. Harry Jacobus lives in Fulton, Alabama.

Marcella Maltais
(°1933 Chicoutimi, Canada – †2018, Quebec, Canada)

Marcella Maltais studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Quebec City from 1949 to 1954. It is in Montreal that she discovers the abstract tendencies of the time through the Automatists. She becomes a member of the Non-Figurative Artists’ Association of Montreal. She moves to Paris in 1958 and continues her search into lyrical abstraction to great acclaim but radically changes her style while first residing on Hydra in 1967-68 where she ends up buying a house. Inspired by the light she returns to figurative art, the style of her student years. Marcella lives in Paris but regularly visits Quebec and Hydra.

Brice Marden
(°1938 Bronxville, New York)

Brice Marden received his art degrees from Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, and from the Yale School of Art and Architecture. Early on, he adopts the style that will stay with him throughout his long and successful career. Minimalist, with attention to texture, through carefully applied layers, and colors, through subtle shades, Marden starts out with monochrome single and multiply arranged panels. It was in 1971 with wife Helen Harrington that the couple discovered Hydra from Spetses, Inspired by the light and the landscape of the island, they buy a first house in 1973, followed by several more acquisitions including the old Kriezis Mansion in harbor . Helen Marden is an artist in her own right.

Helen Marden
( °1941 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Helen Marden, née Helen Harrington, is an American artist who studied Art at Pennsylvania State University. In 1968, she married Brice Marden and the couple has since shared their life together, as painters and more recently, as hotel managers.
Marden’s paintings are characterized by vibrant colors, layered by the artist directly onto the canvas. Teeming with raw expression, her explorations of space, color, edge, and object exemplify how forms can represent experiences and emotions while tapping into the life force in nature itself. (Source: Gagosian Gallery)

Stephen Mueller
(°1947, Norfolk, Virginia – †2011, New York)

Stephen Mueller is an American painter known for his colorful and lyrical abstract works imbued with spiritual and symbolic motifs. After studies in Austin, Texas and Bennington, Vermont , Mueller is mostly associated with the New York school and the legacy of Clement Greenberg. The artist draws inspiration from a wide range of sources including patterns from Islamic art, Indian miniature paintings, textile designs and others. From the mid-Eighties onward, he regularly visits his friends, the Mardens, on Hydra and dedicates entire series of paintings and watercolors to the island.