KOSTAS POLYCHRONOPOULOS



BIOGRAPHY

1931 Born in 1931, sculptor Kostas Polychronopoulos died in Athens in 1975.

1956 The artist graduates from the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA).

1959 As of 1959, Kostas began spending extended periods of time in Paris, attending classes at the Ecole Speciale d'Architecture and the Ecole des Metiers d'Art, enhancing his knowledge of architectural and technical matters. He traveled through Europe and to the United States and Canada, but he always returned to Athens, where he worked most of the time. He drew, made prints and employed both traditional and new materials in his sculpture.

1965 A conscientious artist, Kostas showed his work for the first time in 1965. He participated in the 8th Panhellenic Exhibition in Athens and in other group shows.

1966 He showed three sculptures - Creation, Torso and Untitled - at the ASFA graduate exhibition, where his work was awarded.
Together with Mari, his companion since 1955, he began building his Skironio studio, located 50 kilometers from Athens on the Old National Road to Corinth. Based on his own design, the building overlooks the sea at the spot known since antiquity as the Skironian Rocks, named after the mythical bandit who sabotaged travelers there.

1967 That spring, while preparing his sculptures for the 9th Bienal de Sao Paulo, Kostas was caught unawares by the military coup in Athens. Heavy hearted, he participated in the international exhibition with Creation and Skironian Spirit. That same year he also took part in the 9th Panhellenic Exhibition at the Zappeion in Athens.

1968 Embittered by developments in their homeland, Kostas and Mari Polychronopoulos spent the ensuing years either in isolation at the Skironio studio, moving boulders, building walls and paving paths, or seeking solace and refuge abroad. That fall, they visited with Kostas' siblings in Boston and Toronto. They then traveled around Europe, where the environment was more familiar.

1969 Kostas' first solo exhibition at the New Gallery in Athens, with works such as Epitymvio [grave stele], Execution, Expectation [Anamoni] etc, was his first public outcry against the dictatorship.
He also showed work from this period at the 10th Panhellenic Exhibition at the Zappeion.

1970 At the beginning of the year, the New Gallery show traveled to the Goethe Institute in Thessaloniki, where the work was warmly embraced by the public and press alike. There, Kostas made the acquaintance of the art historian Chrysanthos Christou, who took a particular personal and professional interest in the artist that would last a lifetime. When Kostas and Mari settled in his second studio in Milan, he was finally able to escape the yoke of deprivation of intellectual freedom that weighed so heavily and profoundly on Greek society.
That same year, he participated in the 10th Biennale of Alexandria in Egypt.

1971 Between 1971 and 1974, Kostas participated in the VII, VIII, IX and X International Outdoor Sculpture Exhibitions at the Museo Pagani in Legnano, Varese.

1972 On the occasion of Kostas' solo show at Ansdell Gallery in London, the art critic Denis Bowen writes in Arts Review: "...Polychronopoulos projects a symmetrical imagery, which in his printings and serigraphs appears in a kaleidoscope of bright colors outlining figure forms much in the same way as the color breakdown of a film study of movement... ...The effect of his work acts as a catalyst to our senses, and symbols rather than stylized interpretations link the three disciplines of painting, sculpture and printmaking..."

1973 Solo shows of his work took place in February at Galleria Pagani, Milan, in April at Galleria Il Pozzo, Pinerolo Turin, and in October at Ora cultural centre in Athens.
On invitation of the well-known Italian art critic Mario de Micheli, Kostas took part in the VII International Sculpture Biennale in Carrara with Dionysus Bound, carved from Penteli marble, and Symbols, a work from 1969 dedicated to his friend and fellow-student Gerasimos Sklavos, whose life came to an end when his hands were burnt while working in marble.
By 1973, Polychronopoulos was well-known in Milan and considered one of the most distinguished Greek sculptors of his generation.
His work had already entered its final cycle. During this time, he manifested even more strongly his conviction in the spirit's unwavering resistance to every constraint on liberty.

1974 In January, he exhibited his final drawings at Galleria L' Agrifoglio in Milan. The year 1973 ended with the turning point in battle of the Greek spirit against the dictatorship, with the sacrifice of the young in the Polytechnic University uprising. Most of the drawings in this show were made following the tragic night of 16 November: Night of 16-17 November, Lacrimatoio [vessel for tears], Tribute to Catharsis, Condemnation, etc. In March, he had another solo show at Galleria Pagani in Legnano, Varese.
In the summer of that same year, Kostas participated in the XXVI SALON DE LA JEUNE SCULPTURE, in �FORMES HUMANES" at the Rodin Museum in Paris, and in the International Festival of Painting in Cagnes/Mer.
The prominent poet and art critic Domenico Cara notes in his book, Strutture Grafiche e Segni (Laboratorio delle Arti, Milan): "The sense of vision in Polychronopoulos� art is vigorously oriented towards the notion of origin and the genesis of Mystery. He aligns printmaking with his idea of Mystery being born out of a classical type of form-making and an allusive involvement, which characterizes the stirring language and the visual rendition of one expressing oneself through the spirit and the density of a spectral entity. The objective order is the measure of the natural uplift of the forms that are inextricable from their particular Mediterranean (and lunar) content, which is sensual and intimate, artistic and probing ..."
The Cyprus tragedy found Kostas at the Skironio studio. The Aeschylian Figure, testifies his dread and pain - despair, prayer and supplication. .

1975 In February, the Municipality of Milan honored him with a retrospective covering the period 1970-1974, titled "Grecia 7 anni di dittatura - 7 anni di condanna" (Greece 7 years of dictatorship - 7 years of condemnation) at the Civic Center in the city's 15th Zone. This was the artist's first show in Milan after the fall of the dictatorship. The opening was attended by many of the city's public figures. In their inaugural addresses, speakers both Greek and Italian hailed his antidictatorial stand. The art historian and critic Giorgio Seveso notes in his salutation: "Within Kostas, the human, "being human" is always a mixture, a tight intertwining of the masculine and feminine elements; it is always a weighty mixture of good and evil; it is always the fruit of a particular situation. And herein lies the judgment of Kostas as an artist, of Kostas as a poet, of a person who carefully and sensitively recounts the world to others. It is here, I believe, that Kostas puts his hands on the most authentic core of his work, which is his exploration into the true human being, his delving into the workings of the human being, into the political transitions of his country, where Kostas himself paid a heavy personal price for recent events. And then, Kostas lived the moment of liberation with too much passion..."

In early May, Denys Chevalier again invited Kostas to participate in the XXVII SALON DE LA JEUNE SCULPTURE at the Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris. There he met the sculptor Kostas Andreou, who was already established in France. The two became fast friends. Upon discovering Polychronopoulos' work, Andreou suggested that they show together. That exhibition would take place in Paris after Polychronopoulos' death.

Subsequently, Kostas traveled to Milan to hand in his catalogue essay on the Italian painter Bruno Tosi for the exhibition Kostas had organized for the fall at the Athenian gallery, Nees Morfes. In the prologue he writes: "Today, man has ceased to play his principal role in society. He moves within a prefabricated, contemporary chaos, from struggle to exploitation and from falsehood to nihilism. Human worth has ceased to be an offering of fertile expression. The man-appendage is always used for what he can give of himself; he savors very little of what he is allotted. And sometimes he accepts this exploitation out of ignorance or a need to survive. Other times he wants to defend himself. Then he compromises or rebels.
And the time is coming when those who compromise with the deniers of the predetermined situation will join together in the idea of seeking a total material and spiritual vindication.
In a prefabricated society such as this, the person of intellect experiences the oppression more directly; the creative person is the eternal fighter for truth. The ongoing dialogue in the artist�s work, an innate need to move through his own concerns so as to penetrate the depths of his fellow man, brings him to the ramparts of an intellectual and spiritual revolution for justice..."

Kostas returned to Athens only to die suddenly on his name day, the 21st of May, 1975. He was a casualty of the seven-year military dictatorship after its fall - the dictatorship against which he had battled with all his might.

In early 1975, following the restoration of democratic rule in Greece, Kostas decided to assist in his liberated country's reconnection to the free world with a series of art events. Together with Alberto Pivi and Isabella Montuoro of Galleria L'Agrifoglio in Milan, he organized a painting exhibition titled "arte nella dimensione d'oggi" (art in today's dimension), with the artists from the gallery, twelve Italians, two Spanish, and Kostas and Mari representing Greece.

The exhibition opened at the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Athens on 20 June 1975, hosted by Mari and his Italian friends.

In September, Mayor Kostas Katsafanas of Nikaia paid tribute to Kostas' antidictatorial activities by organizing an exhibition of his work at the municipality's Cultural Center. That same winter, Mayor Katsafanas also mounted "arte nella dimensione d'oggi" at the Cultural Center. A parallel show took place at Galleria L'Agrifoglio in Milan.

1976 The scheduled exhibition of Kostas Andreou, Achilles Apergis, and Kostas Polychronopoulos was held at Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris.

After the exhibition closed, Mari left Paris alone, driving a car with a trailer loaded with Kostas' works, just as she had brought them from Milan at the beginning of the winter. This time, however, her destination was the Skironio studio. The sculptor Aristides Patsoglou helped load the works in Paris. Patsoglou along with Stavros Bonatsos and Kyriakos Rokos were the three young sculptors who took part the previous year in the XXVII SALON DE LA JEUNE SCULPTURE. Kostas had photographed their works there (the last film found in his camera) to show to the Athenian press and media in his efforts to promote young artists in his country - an advantage he was deprived of in his own youth.

The pace of work on the Skironio Museum Polychronopoulos now moved into high gear. Kostas' museum opened its doors on 21 May 1976. This building was designated as a permanent safe haven his work. Kostas himself installed most of the large sculptures on the museum's grounds.

Mari Polychronopoulou inaugurated Skironio exactly one year after the untimely loss of her companion. It opened at that moment in time when the artist's physical presence was transubstantiated into a symbol of life and a memory:
A symbol of creativity and perpetual seeking;
A symbol of the independence and power of the human spirit;
A symbol of the significance of art as a language that transforms nature into a work of man;
A lasting presence and perpetuation of Art as Memory, of the renewal of the spirit through contact with Nature.

1978 A solo show of Kostas' work was held in February at the Sarabuba Villasanta art center in Varese. On 21 May, the anniversary of the battle of Crete (WWII), the mayor of Herakleio (Crete) inaugurated a retrospective of the artist's work in Saint Mark's Basilica.

1979 In August, a solo show of Kostas' work was held at the Town Hall and Naval High School on the Greek island of Ithaki.

1985 In May, in the framework of the 5th International Sculpture Biennale at the Skironio,Gallery F in Athens provided the opportunity for Pierre Restany,distinguished French art critic, and the well known: Emmanuel Mavrommatis, art historian and professor of art history, Dan Haulica, art historian and president of AICA, Ryszard Stanislavsky, director of the museum of modern art in Lodz, and other critics and artists, participants in the Symposium of Art Historians and Critics at the Skironio, to better acquaint themselves with Kostas' work through a series of photographs displayed together with his prints and small sculptures.

1990-1 An exhibition, titled "Unknown Works," with drawings and monotypes from the years 1958 to 1966, opened at the Skironio in September 1990 and remained open all winter.

1992 As part of the events titled "music + ..." at the Hellenic American Union, the distinguished composer Theodore Antoniou presented amultidisciplinary project of his own. He conducted pieces by four noteworthy young composers and displayed the sculptures by Polychronopoulos that had inspired them. Iakovos Dakoutros writes of the sculptor's oeuvre: "To make music of the life of a person like Kostas Polychronopoulos is a challenge. It elevates you to other spheres of knowledge through the touch of his work and his stance in life, which you discover..."

Savvas Zannas chose Epitymvio [epitaph]: "Kostas' marble Epitymvio is an escape into infinity; it is the idea of universality. Only through percussion could I express this sense of universality and, for the first time, I also used magnetic tape..."

On Dionysus Bound, Alexandros Kaloyeras writes: "Kostas Polychronopoulos views contemporary man thusly: a captive of a prefabricated contemporary chaos, a captive of society, a captive of the forfeiture of values, and even further, a captive of his reason, his weaknesses, his very self, captive in general to everything opposed to all that Dionysus personifies. This is exactly what I wanted to express with my music: the agony, the lamentation, the sigh of any Dionysus Bound who is seeking his
justification."

Of his piece, I Command the Gates of Hades, Michalis Messinis writes: "being the lover of ancient Greece that I am, I chose three works that evoke it: Tragedian [Tragodos], Aeschylian Figure, and Dionysus Bound (...) Polychronopoulos' work will remain in my memory forever. He is the sculptor who touched me from the very first.."

2007 The monograph with a complete study of the life and work of Kostas Polychronopoulos is published. Retrospectives of his work will take place in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities.