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Aretaieion Hospital in Athens to Unveil Sculptor Petrides’ Aretaieia on Mother’s Day

ATHENS – Aretaieion University Hospital, with the support of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), will welcome Aretaieia, a permanent sculpture by George Petrides on the Hospital’s premises at 76 Vasilissis Sofias Avenue in Athens, on Mother’s Day, May 12. Patients for surgical and gynecological care, their families and medical students coming to this leading Greek University Hospital will be welcomed by a statue of an expectant mother.

The sculpture will adjoin the historic neoclassical hospital building built in 1898 and will be visible from the adjoining avenue.

Sculptor Petrides said: “I am humbled to have Aretaieia, inspired by my love for my mother, be part of this leading University Hospital in the city of Athens where my mother gave birth to me many years ago. In creating the sculpture, I have drawn on ancient Greek sculptural traditions while using state of the art technology to fabricate her. I hope she will offer inspiration to the many patients, families, and medical students who come to the hospital every day.”

Petrides continued: “I am grateful to the brilliant surgeons and doctors with whom I worked on this project: NKUA Rector Prof. Gerasimos Siasos, President of the Medical School-NKUA Prof. Nikolaos Arkadopoulos, President of Aretaieio University Hospital Prof. Konstantinos Tsioufis, Chair of Surgery Prof. Manousos Konstantoulakis, Chair of Neonatology Prof. Nicoletta Iacovidou, Dr. Dimitris Vassilopoulos, and especially Chair of OB-GYN Prof. Nikolaos Vlahos who first invited me to work with them on this multi-year endeavor.”

For Aretaieia, Petrides focused on his relationship with his mother, Yota Petrides, and then, as he has with other works, drew upon sculptural precedents of centuries past. The archaic Kore from the mid-5th century BC, found in the Acropolis Museum, influenced the face and hair; the oversized Zeus of Artemision (450 BC), found at the National Archaeological Museum indicated the size and base design; the female nude Aphrodite of Knidos (the original Greek work from 4th century BC has been lost; Roman copies survive) was crucial to Petrides’ presentation of a female nude in a natural stance; Byzantine icons of the pregnant Virgin Mary inspired the mother’s ethos.

“In creating the artwork, I have combined the ancient and the state of the art,” added Petrides. The sculptor started with a live model and clay, then used digital sculpting software to prepare files for 3D printing. He sourced recycled PETG plastic from medical waste packaging, printing the body using industrial machines in-house.

Finished in gold metal coating, Aretaieia references the ancient Greek practice of adorning statues of gods with gold to convey power, immortality, and divine nature. In siting the statue on the Aretaieion premises, Hospital leadership and Petrides chose a location which looks across Vasilissis Sofias Avenue at Greek sculptor Yiannis Pappas’ statue of Eleftherios Venizelos, the venerated Greek statesman. The location inspired Petrides to place the two works in dialogue, particularly through their physical stance.

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