Artist George Petrides with a few of his remarkable sculptures. (Photo: Courtesy of George Petrides)
NEW YORK – Greek-American George Petrides, the international sculptor who lives and works in New York City and Athens, Greece, creates abstracted figurative sculpture in sizes ranging from a few inches to more than life-size, combining the timeless with the contemporary. He was featured in Forbes on July 13 for his remarkable work and for carving “a Matriarchal Gaze into Greek History and Heritage.”
The article highlights works in Hellenic Heads: George Petrides, the art exhibition currently on view at The Muses, 111 St. Andrews Road in Southampton, NY, where it runs through September 5.
The Embassy of Greece in the U.S. presented the world premiere of the traveling exhibition May 9-June 10 at the Embassy’s exhibition space in Washington, DC.
“Works in the exhibition, which will travel to other U.S. cities, as well as Europe and Asia, showcase Petrides’ hybrid of innovative and formal techniques that begins by sculpting in clay from a live model or photographs,” Forbes reported, adding that “next, the clay form is 3D scanned to create digital file that he can then rework in modeling software.”
“The modified file, much enlarged from the clay, then comes back into the real world by being 3D printed in plastic or CNC milled in foam,” Forbes reported, noting that Petrides “then reworks that piece by hand, using power tools and construction materials, and applying metals and patinas.”
“Sometimes he casts each work in bronze, using the ancient Greek lost-wax process of pouring molten metal into a wax model mold,” Forbes reported, adding that “attributed to the Hittites, an ancient group of Indo-Europeans who moved into Asia Minor and formed an empire at Hattusa in Anatolia (modern Turkey) around 1600 BCE, Greek sculptors perfected lost-wax casting into the method used today.”
Among the powerful works highlighted in the Forbes article is The Refugee. “Crafted as a re-imagining of Petrides’ maternal grandmother, Maria Blizioti, as she may have been in 1922 (age 19), [the scuplture] draws us into the circle of four matrilineal generations,” Forbes reported, noting that “Blizioti escaped the Burning of Smyrna in 1922, when as many as 125,000 Greek and Armenian Christians reportedly died when the port city was destroyed after flames raged for up to nine days.”
“Most scholars attribute the blaze, which leveled the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city while sparing any damage to the Muslim and Jewish quarters, to Turkish soldiers who set fire to Greek and Armenian homes and businesses in what is now Izmir, Turkey,” Forbes reported, adding that “as many as 400,000 Greek and Armenian refugees rushed the waterfront, where they languished under brutal conditions for nearly two weeks.”
“Borrowing from Michelangelo’s The Deposition (1547 and 1555), housed at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, where it is often called the Florentine Pietà, The Refugee references the Burning of Smyrna in 1922 and the subsequent population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923,” Forbes reported, noting that “the shrouded figure with hollow eyes pulls us into her story, revealing what it was like to witness her homeland destroyed.”
“I am proud and humbled that The Refugee is now being made into a larger size to be erected in a public square in a part of Athens where many refugees settled in 1922 or 1923,” Petrides told Forbes.
Born in Athens in 1964 and raised there and in New York, he is steeped in ancient Greek sculpture and the works that were influenced by it (Donatello, Michelangelo, Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol, et al.) as well as the 20th-century modernists who re-interpreted these traditions. He closely follows contemporary figurative sculptors, especially those who reference ancient Greek art, such as Charles Ray and Huma Bhabha as well as the many other artists who are part of a resurgence in figurative sculpture.
“I have always been interested in my Greek heritage, absorbing it through my family members: a grandmother who escaped the destruction of Smyrna in 1922 and parents who lived through the 1940s Nazi occupation and ensuing Greek Civil War,” Petrides told Forbes.
“Institutions interested in Greek history and culture are requesting the Hellenic Heads. As it is a non-profit, non-selling exhibition, we have to balance these requests with expenses and sponsor support, and hope to be announcing the next venues soon. I hope these will include Boston, LA, two cities in Europe, then Turkey and China,” Petrides told Forbes.
Growing up in a family of artists and businesspeople, Petrides’ first career was in finance. At the age of 32, he took his first-ever art class. He continued to study and make art part-time for more than 20 years, taking drawing, painting and sculpture classes at the New York Studio School, The Art Students League in New York, and L’Academie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. In 2017, Petrides dedicated himself to making art full-time. He has had solo shows in Dubai, Mykonos, and Monaco. From December 2021 to February 2022, he had a two-artist show with the renowned Greek-American abstract painter Nassos Daphnis at the Consulate of Greece in New York, in which he presented some of his small sculptures. He has also participated in group shows in Athens, London, and New York.
Have an idea for a story, or know of an event we should cover? We want to hear about it!
The National Herald is the paper of record of the Greek Diaspora community. Through independent journalism, we bring news to generations of Greek-Americans, with stories on the individual, community and international level. Visit and support our 106 year-old sister publication Εθνικός Κήρυξ.
You’re reading 1 of 3 free articles this month. Get unlimited access to The National Herald. or Log In