Simonopetra Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery located on the southern coast of the Athos peninsula, between the port of Dafni and the Osiou Grigoriou monastery. Founded during the 13th century by Simon the Athonite (later sanctified by the Eastern Orthodox church as Osios Simon of the Myrrohovletes), it is built on exceptionally rugged terrain, surmounting a single rock on a cliff overlooking the sea.
Papaloukas’ profound appreciation and reverence for the beauty of the Greek countryside started at a young age, the artist himself stating: ‘Ever since I was a small boy in my village, I explored my homeland inch by inch. I strolled the hills and vales, wandered along the paths, over the mountains with their gorges and streams, with their snows and rainfalls’ (quoted by Marina Lambraki-Plaka, ‘The Painting of Paploukas: A Spiritual Adventure’, Spyros Papaloukas, Athens, 2007, p. 11).
The present work is a rich example of Papaloukas’ finest works from his ‘Mount Athos period’. Having initially trained as an apprentice to an icon painter, Papaloukas travelled to Mount Athos with his roommate in Paris, the artist Fotis Kontoglou, in 1923. The aim of Papaloukas’ trip into the wilds of nature was to recover from his experiences as a war artist in the Greek army during the Asia Minor campaign, to further his studies of Byzantine iconography, and to paint the local scenery.
The traumatic experience of the Asia Minor Campaign had created a need for national self-affirmation in Greece, which was expressed in literature and the visual arts through a turn to tradition. A member of the Generation of the Thirties, Papaloukas was no exception, and sought comfort in a return to the Byzantine tradition while striving to combine it with contemporary ideas on painting. Following Papaloukas’ return from his four-year stay in Paris in 1921, the artist focused on painting the landscape and people of his homeland, incorporating the maxims and elements of the aesthetic of the Cubists, Impressionists, Nabis and Fauves.
other favorites of mine:
Vatopedi in red