NEW YORK – The art exhibition Hellenic Heads: George Petrides features oversize sculptures of heads inspired by six important periods of Greek history over 2,500 years. The exhibition runs June 16 through Labor Day weekend, September 5 at The Muses, 111 St. Andrews Road in Southampton, NY. The Muses is one of the pre-eminent cultural centers on Long Island. It was founded in 2013 with the intention of honoring and promoting Hellenic Culture, the Morningstar of the Western World, in the Hamptons and surrounding areas. It is associated with the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons, The Dormition of the Virgin Mary, at the same address.
Father Alex Karloutsos stated: “Our Community is honored to host the extraordinary art of sculptor George Petrides which honors important periods in our Hellenic history from the fifth century BC to the present day. One of these sculptures honors the memory of those who died, and lived through, the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922. As our Archdiocese celebrates its centennial, we can never forget that 100 years ago, people died as martyrs for our Faith. Another work honors female leaders, who are frequently overlooked, of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) which was initiated and sustained by our Faith. George’s beautiful art reminds all of us – not only Greek Orthodox Christians – of our Hellenic foundations so we can wisely use today to create a better day tomorrow for all humankind.”
More Information is available online: www.petrides.art.
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On the occasion of the centennial of the Destruction of Smyrna in 1922 and the bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829), this exhibition presents over-lifesize heads by sculptor George Petrides, inspired by six key periods in Hellenic history over 2,500 years: the Classical Greek Period (510 BC to 323 BC), the Byzantine Period (330 AD to 1453 AD), the Greek War of Independence (1821 to 1829), the Destruction of Smyrna, Greek and Armenian genocide (1922), the Nazi occupation and Greek Civil War of the 1940s, and the present: a Greek girl looking to the future.
The sculptor has been inspired by his Greek ancestors’ experiences, some of them difficult, researching historical and family sources. As with the American Revolution and later Civil War, understanding the past is critical to understanding the present character of a people.
Petrides said: “I was born in Athens in 1964, and from age 5, I was steeped in ancient Greek art and history as my aunt was a tour guide to the Acropolis, National Archaeological Museum… I soaked up ancient Greek sculpture, from the Archaic, to the Classical to the Hellenistic periods. For example, my piece ‘Thalia, Muse of Comedy’ is inspired by ancient masterpieces – and as I was working on it, it took on features of my mother as a young woman. This love of Greek history and culture continued through my college years, when I studied Greek and Latin at Harvard College, graduating in 1985.
“In 2021, for the bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) overthrowing the Ottoman Empire, I was asked to create a commemorative sculpture. I chose to depict not a male warlord, of which there are many images, but female leaders. I came to admire three women: Laskarina Bouboulina, Manto Mavrogennous and Domna Vizvizi, who gave their skills, fortunes and ultimately their lives to the cause. With my work ‘Heroines of 1821.’ I seek to convey their power, resilience and determination….and still have femininity and beauty.
“For 2022, I was asked to commemorate the centennial of the Destruction of Smyrna, which occurred in September 1922 and was part of a Greek and Armenian genocide by Ottoman forces. I researched the event which occurred over four tragic days, and those who escaped – such as my maternal grandmother – and reconstructed their lives in a new land, Greece.
“I looked to the 1940s when two tragic periods overtook Greece: the Nazi occupation (1940 – 1945) followed by the Greek Civil war (1945 – 1949). I had ample source material as my parents were teenagers in those years, and my great uncle was lost in the Battle of Meligalas; his daughter, now in her 80s, took me to the historic site.
For the present, on a lighter closing note, my daughter, age 12, posed for ‘Ellinopoula Atenizontas to Mellon’ (Greek Girl Looking to the Future). I hope this piece conveys the optimism and character that a young girl may feel for her future and a country and people may feel for theirs.”
Eleftheria Gkoufa, Cultural Manager, stated: “With dozens of traveling exhibitions with which I was involved at the Benaki Museum, I saw the value of sharing our Greek culture with other cultures, in the USA and other countries. My colleagues and I termed this ‘Cultural Diplomacy.’ We were consistently impressed with how effective this was in conveying an understanding of our Greek culture over the centuries, more than, for example, a lecture series. When I became aware of George’s series of works, underpinned by research in each period, I encouraged him to present the work in important Greek cultural venues both in the USA and other international cities I am happy to be managing this traveling exhibition which I believe will continue through 2022 and into 2023 in USA venues such as Washington, DC and Los Angeles and European venues such as London, Paris, and Geneva. Exhibition dates will be announced at www.petrides.art”
Eleftheria Gkoufa is a Conservator and Cultural Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the cultural sector. She has been a Paper Conservator in the Conservation Department of the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece since 1999. In 2017, she was appointed by the Director of the Benaki Museum to start the Traveling Exhibitions Department in parallel with her responsibilities as Conservator. Her responsibilities vary by exhibition and include project management, exhibition design, conservation, transportation and installation / de-installation. She has performed these functions around the world.