Panayiotis Tetsis, Pomegranates
The print Pomegranates by Panayiotis Tetsis belongs to a collection of same-themed paintings and prints by the artist owned by the Alpha Bank Art Collection. Red and yellow dominate as colours, making this work of art unique. Tetsis used the demanding coloured aquatint technique to depict the intricate colour grading.
Red and yellow dominating
Colour takes centre stage in the piece. Using only red and gold, the artist depicts 4 pomegranates and the surface on which they are resting. Their volume, texture and colour contrast are rendered exclusively through colour grading of these two colours.
The outstanding talent of Panayiotis Tetsis, who is mostly known for his paintings, is evidenced through his skill in using such a complex technique as colour aquatint.
Still life in Tetsis’ work
Panayiotis Tetsis showed great interest in still life themes. Many of his works depict flowers and fruit, or objects, such as vases or even paintbrushes. The Alpha Bank Art Collection includes still life paintings and prints by the artist.
The pomegranate as a symbol
The Pomegranates belong to a wider collection by Testis owned by the Alpha Bank Art Collection and depicting this fruit.
It is a subject with multiple symbolisms, present in art as far back as antiquity. It most often symbolises abundance, wealth, good luck and fertility. Besides, it is a long-time New Year’s tradition in Greece to smash a pomegranate for good luck as soon as the year turns.
His life in a nutshell
Panayiotis Tetsis (1925-2016) was born on the island of Hydra. In 1937 he moved with his family to Piraeus. He attended the Athens Law School without completing his studies.
Between 1944 and 1949 he studied Painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Dimitrios Biskinis, Pavlos Mathiopoulos and Konstantinos Parthenis.
From 1953 to 1956 he studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, on a scholarship from the State Scholarships Foundation. When he returned to Greece, he settled in Athens and spent his free time between the islands of Sifnos and Hydra.
From 1959 to 1962 he taught at the Design Department of the Athens Technology Group. He was a co-founder and instructor at the Vakalo Art and Design College, along with Eleni Vakalo, Assadour Baharian and Frantzis Frantzeskakis.
In 1940, long before attending the Athens School of Fine Arts, he had met Dimitris Pikionis and Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas. Tetsis considered them both his true teachers. He believed that his work was greatly influenced by Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas.
Favourite themes and artistic style
Tetsis’ paintings consist of portraits, scenes from daily life, landscapes and still life.
His work encompasses elements of Modernism, Expressionism and abstraction, while still remaining representational. In his paintings, the artist paid particular attention to the relationship between colour and light.
Besides painting, Tetsis also worked with engraving. He also painted murals in churches and public buildings.
A recognised artist
Testis held his first solo exhibition at Romvos Gallery in 1948. He continued to hold many more solo exhibitions and participate in a number of group exhibitions.
In 1958 his works travelled to the Guggenheim Museum and Tetsis was nominated for the Guggenheim International Award.
He participated in the São Paulo Biennale in 1957 and the Alexandria Biennale in 1959. In 1970 Tetsis was chosen to represent Greece at the Venice Biennale. However, he withdrew his candidacy for political reasons.
An important teacher
In 1976 Tetsis was appointed professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he taught until 1991. His students included George Rorris, Yannis Vakirtzis, Miltos Golemas, Panagiotis Tountas, etc. In 1989 he was appointed Dean.
In 1993 he became a regular member of the Academy of Athens and in 1999 he was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of Phoenix.
The coloured aquatint technique
The print was created using the coloured aquatint technique. It is an intaglio printmaking technique that allows the printmaker to render many hues using grading, lighter or darker, so as to enrich the more linear design of the aquatint.
Tetsis in the Alpha Bank Art Collection
The Alpha Bank Art Collection includes various paintings and prints by Tetsis. Some of them have pomegranates as the central theme.
The collection also owns Street Market, a painting of larger dimensions. The painting hangs at the Alpha Bank central branch.