Thessaloniki Painter Plays Games with the Physical and Metaphysical

Bxc4, 2012 oil on canvas, 60x60 cm

ATHENS – While travel writers have begun to sing the praises of Athens, wonderful Thessaloniki is less known to world travelers. In addition to proximity to the fabulous beaches of Chalkidiki, the ancient multicultural city has other summer charms. Unlike Athens, its best musicians do not flee to the islands, and some of its artists remain for exhibits.

The fascinating images of Nicolas Sphicas are featured through September 2 at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in an exhibition titled “Alphonso Teaches Bronstein.” The former was King of Castile (1221-1284) and wrote an encyclopedia of the board games of his time, including chess, and David Bronstein was a Soviet Grand Master.

Chess originated in India and passed to the West though Persia (checkmate is derived from Shah mat – the king is dead) and the Byzantines were obsessed with it.

Sphicas’ images draw the viewer into a many-layered world.

Born in Cairo, where he studied Fine Arts at its university, he has also done extensive studies of the history of the Greeks of Alexandria.

Ae5, Albus-Bronstein, 194-1995, aquatint, 4/4 40×50 cm.