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Culture

Sculptor George Petrides’ Hellenic Heads to Open in Venice, Italy, in April

February 21, 2024

VENICE – The Embassy of Greece in Rome and The Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies of Venice, in cooperation with the Honorary Consulate of Greece in Venice and the Greek Orthodox Community of Venice, and with the support of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy present Hellenic Heads: George Petrides, A Personal Exploration of Greek History and Culture Over 2,500 Years.

The exhibition will take place in the courtyard of the Church of St. George of the Greeks (San Giorgio dei Greci) adjoining the Hellenic Institute, a short walk from the Arsenale and St. Mark’s Square, daily from April 15-28 April and from May 8-November 24, 9 AM-5 PM.

Sculptor George Petrides said: “I am honored that the Hellenic Heads continue to circle the globe, sharing our Greek history and culture with tens of thousands of visitors. In this fifth stop, in Venice, I am humbled that my works are just a few steps from the treasures of Greek culture which are exhibited in the Museum of icons, including a collection of important Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, manuscripts and liturgical and other objects, and the Church of St. George of the Greeks, whose construction was started by Greeks in 1548, while Michelangelo was creating his masterpieces, and continues to serve the Greek Orthodox Community – the oldest non-Italian community in Venice.”

He continued: “I am grateful to Ambassador of Greece in Rome Eleni Sourani, Hellenic Institute President Vasileios Koukousas, Honorary Consul General of Greece in Venice Bruno Bernardi, President of the Greek Orthodox Community in Venice Dimitrios Zafeiropoulos, Archbishop of Italy Polykarpos and Cultural Manager Eleftheria Gkoufa for their generous support.”

The Hellenic Heads are six oversized busts standing over two meters tall on their bases, each inspired by a period of Greek history ranging from Classical Greece, the Byzantine Empire, the Greek War of Independence, the Burning of Smyrna, the Nazi Occupation and Holocaust, to present day. For each period, Petrides studied masterpieces by sculptors such as Michelangelo and Rodin, as well as archeological artifacts, academic sources and historical photographs. Then, he asked a family member to pose for each piece—some live and some from photographs and memory. Timelessness is further emphasized by the perennial themes addressed by each work, such as the mirroring of female military leaders in the Greek War of Independence with the role of female leadership today; and the head honoring Greek Jews murdered by Nazis, shockingly relevant as antisemitism, is again on the rise. There is deep symbolism in the work referring to the plight of the refugees who fled the burning Smyrna 100 years ago and those fleeing violence today.

Hellenic Heads is a traveling exhibition, with Venice being its fifth stop. Three more venues will follow, in Europe and Asia, for a total of eight around the world. It debuted at the Embassy of Greece to the USA in Washington, DC for Europe Day 2022, then traveled to the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, IL. In parallel, an extensive catalog has been produced, which combines presentations of the historical periods with Petrides’ sculptures which may be viewed online: https://shorturl.at/anvU6.

The Greek Embassy in Rome is the center of Hellenism in Italy. The Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies of Venice, Greece’s only scientific and research institution abroad, has one of the most important collections of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons in Italy (more information, including opening hours for the public, is available online: https://istitutoellenico.org. The historic Greek Orthodox Community of Venice has been active continuously from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Archdiocese of Italy was founded in 1991; under its jurisdiction are Greek and other Orthodox communities in Italy. Next to the Hellenic Institute is the Orthodox Church of St. George (San Giorgio dei Greci), which can be visited at the same time as the exhibition.

Hellenic Heads: George Petrides

A Personal Exploration of Greek History and Culture over 2,500 Years

April 15-28 and May 8-November 24, 9 AM-5 PM daily

(Closed April 29-May 7 in observance of Easter)

Courtyard of St. George of the Greeks (San Giorgio dei Greci) adjoining The Hellenic

Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies of Venice, Castello 3412- 30122 Venezia.

Petrides is also known for his large scale public sculptures. During the centennial of the burning of Smyrna, his sculpture Refugee — an enlargement of the Hellenic Head Refugee – was unveiled in an Athens neighborhood, Neo Psychiko, where refugees settled in the 1920s. Presently, his statue Mother and Child is being erected in central Athens on the campus of Aretaieion Hospital, part of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Aretaieion provides high quality medical care to women, in addition to general surgery, at no charge. The statue, 2.6 meters tall, will be unveiled during the celebration of Mothers’ Day, May 12.

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