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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 6 December 2014
24 GREECE Domenikos Theotokόpoulos before El Greco El Greco will always be Domenicos Theotokόpoulos for Greece and there are five exhibitions in Athens alone to prove that As a tribute to the 400th anniversary of the death of the Spanish Renaissance artist El Greco, several art exhibitions are being held in museums around the world, five of which in the city of Athens alone. It wasn't until 1960, when documents recording his presence on Crete were discovered, that we found out found out about his presence on Crete, as an apprenticeship in a Byzantine workshop. Even though his nickname, meaning 'the Greek' in Spanish, did show his descent, there were no traces of him in Greece. He was aware and proud of his Greek origin, though, and up until his death in 1614 he always signed his works in Greek as Doménikos Theotokópoulos. Doménikos Theotokópoulos is the most important figure in the history of Crete, and Greece's most famous artist since Phidias. The fact that most people believe he is Spanish is upsetting for the Cretans. After having studied iconography in Candia (aka Crete), he moved to Venice in 1567 at the age of 26, then to Rome, before finally settling in Toledo, Spain. There, his inspiration flourished, establishing him as the precursor to modern art. He never returned to Greece. For many years he was seen as an outcast and his art was considered extravagant, unnatural even. In spite of the unprecedentedly spiritual images of Christianity in his paintings, El Greco himself was not a religious man. He received several major commissions that helped him produce some of his most dramatic and expressionistic works. Two books though, found in 1982, reveal his personal opinions on art and architecture. Drawn into Spanish mysticism, he went on to sketch serpentine figures and dark alchemic stereotypes, mixing cubism and geometry into his subjective inspiration, discarding proportion and classic realism. The curtain of the series of the tribute exhibitions in Athens, as 2014 was named year of El Greco, first went up on 12 November at The Benaki Museum, with 'The friendly circle of Greco in Toledo'. From 20 November, 'El Greco between Venice and Rome', presented at the Historical Museum of Crete, focuses on two of the Cretan paintings (Baptism of Christ and View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery) set out in Heraklion institution. Another work of the artist, Burial of Christ, is featured at the Museum of Cycladic Art from 14 November, exhibited digitally - bearing a small tribute to the 'Death in his Greco'. The Byzantine and Christian museum announced a retrospective called 'Doménikos Theotokópoulos before El Greco', which opened on 4 December. Moreover, a digital museum with monumental works of El Greco in Toledo and the Escorial has been set up this month at the National Gallery, including his famous Espolio and the Burial of the Count of Orgaz creations. Crete also hosted an exhibition detailing El Greco's life earlier this year, entitled 'Between Venice and Rome' raising funds to acquire two icons painted by the artist, during his time on the island. Greek justice minister declares he will never back gay marriage Greek Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou has said that he will never back legalising same-sex marriage in the country, arguing that it harms society and poses a danger to traditions. "I won't discuss it, I can't conceive of it," the conservative politician told Greece's Mega TV. "Besides, the convention of human rights forbids it. When it speaks about marriage it speaks [of marriage] between a man and woman. We are a country that respects traditions, respects human nature, and it's not possible, at least with this government and this ministry, to permit marriage." While Greece has faced sanctions by the European court of human rights for not extending rights to gay couples, in July the court refused to judicially impose same-sex marriage on countries, stating that gay marriage is not a human right. Athanasiou has argued that allowing gay couples to enter civil unions could further challenge the traditional family structure. "Our country has structures. We have to look at it from the religious point of view, the political point of view, the social point of view. The ministry of justice will not, under the pressure of anyone, examine such an issue without calmness and composure," he added. The Greek Orthodox Church, the largest denomination in the Eastern European nation, has called homosexuality "a perversion of human existence". Coins depicting Alexander the Great uncovered at Amphipolis Discovery of the largest tomb ever unearthed in Greece has enthralled the Greek public Coins featuring the face of Alexander the Great have been found at the largest tomb ever unearthed in Greece, where archaeologists are hunting for clues to solve the mystery of who lies buried there. The enormous tomb at Amphipolis in northern Greece dates back to the fourth century BC and contains nearintact sculptures and intricate mosaics. The discovery earlier this month of a skeleton inside the structure has added to the excitement over the site, which has enthralled the Greek public. The archaeologist in charge of the dig, Katerina Peristeri, said they still did not know the identity of the skeleton but it was likely the tomb was built for a high ranking individual. Giving the first complete presentation of the excavation results at the Ministry of Culture in Athens, Ms Peristeri said the quality of the statues and the sheer scale of the tomb, which measures some 500 metres in circumference, "show that a general could have been buried there". The tomb was repeatedly plundered before being sealed off but Ms Peristeri said the team still found several coins around the tomb, including some showing the face of Alexander the Great and some dating back to the third and second century BC. Archaeologists had to dig their way past huge decapitated sphinxes, break through a wall guarded by two caryatids - sculpted female figures - and empty out an antechamber decorated with lavish mosaics to finally find the tomb's occupant. Experts have known about the burial mound, which is 30 metres high, since the 1960s, but work only began in earnest there in 2012. "We knew we had to return there and solve the mystery of the hill," Ms Peristeri said. Since the unearthing of the site, deemed to be of huge historical importance and visited by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in August, there has been widespread speculation over who was buried there: from Roxana, Alexander's Persian wife, to Olympias, the king's mother, to one of his generals. But historians said it is highly unlikely to have been Alexander himself, who conquered the Persian empire and much of the known world before his death at the age of 32. SATURDAY 6 DECEMBER 2014 Unearthing the mysteries of the tomb at Amphipolis.
29 November 2014
13 December 2014