The J. Spyropoulos collection
The Jannis Spyropoulos Foundation contains more than two hundred and fifty works by the painter. These works were chosen and bequeathed to the Museum by its founders, the painter and his wife Zoe Spyropoulou. They selected, held on to and then left to the Museum a collection which shows the entire course of his painting career which last for fifty years.
Dry-Stone Walls in Mykonos VI, 1955
Setting off from the earliest stage of his painting, which is characterized by figurative depictions, there are two groups of work of particular note: the period referred to as the grey brushstrokes (1940-1948) and the other as the vertical brushstrokes (1949-1950). These were followed by a period of naive vision containing landscapes worked in a large number of variations. In the works from the period 1952-1957 can be clearly seen the procedures that Spyropoulos adopted in order to arrive at Abstraction, through the transcendence of the naturalistic object. Shortly thereafter, and indeed already by the end of the Fifties, the painter had pushed his quest forward into an ever more richly interwoven script connecting the points in the work, which was admirably served by his characteristic and inventive techniques. In the works from 1957 are presented characteristic examples of the way the painter developed the freedom of his line through the use of pictorial gesture. They constitute the epitome of all his quests during this period as they reintroduce purely geometrical shapes and incisions in an endeavor to bring about a blending of the intensity of the gesture with the calm poise of tectonic organization.
Triptychon A, 1963
During the Sixties the artist, with unusual intuition, held in check the chance processes taking place in the interior of his images and harmonized the expressivity of the content with his technical uniqueness. The method of affixing of painting materials adopted by Spyropoulos, managed to encapsulate and assimilate the various textures into a uniform surface (both aesthetically and materially). During the period when most of his contemporaries throughout the world were trying to find a way out of the limits imposed by two dimensions, and from the canvas itself, our own abstract classicist was refining his canvas through unremitting intervention. No layer of the surface contended with the preceding one. On the contrary, it assisted it, constantly bringing forth hidden qualities. The compositions from the period 1965-1974 were based on three primary elements, which were the incisions, collage and the brushstroke. The painter made use of earthen colors, where the value of the luminosity was drawn into their interior, transformed into warmth and then functioned as a catalyst for dramatic painterly occurrences which are demonstrated by the inventive technique employed in the final polishing. The collage technique which was being applied so assiduously by Spyropoulos already by the Sixties, with the marginal assimilation of the foreign body within the uniform substance of the painting itself, continued to be used in the period 1976-1987, with undiminished inventiveness.
The painter refined his images layer by layer, enclosing within them qualities which constituted the matires of the modelling and permitted the emergence of the interior landscapes which demand a sensitive viewer in order to be fully revealed. In this final period Spyropoulos made greater use of readable fragments of printed image. He left recognizable pieces of a photograph which are skilfully tied in with the spirit and the structure of the total composition. In this way a dialogue is created between what pre-existed and what in the end by means of his personal refinements becomes significant. A method of reading is promoted where what has been seen a thousand times becomes novel again, because these things are brought to the fore and redefined. Possessing the inventiveness and the awareness of a true master, Jannis Spyropoulos cultivated his skills in every conceivable way, so that the spirituality of his painterly vision would be revealed. In the works of the collection housed at the Spyropoulos Museum the visitor has the opportunity to follow the painters' artistic career as it is recorded by the works of Spyropoulos themselves.
Yannis Ch. Papaioannou (excerpt from his doctoral dissertation, The Painting of Jannis Spyropoulos).