Skoufa Gallery, Athens

November 13 - December 6, 2014


The  Exoneration of Painting

Elizabeth Plessa

George Hadoulis paints in the  way that a generous cook enters the  kitchen with  the same appetite every day. He  wears that huge  overall  apron  and  tirelessly opens windows onto   a painting that resembles an endless colourful garden.
He encountered colour during his first painting steps, although the  paths leading to it were often different. Always dominant in his  work of  Mediterranean origin, in his works from the   early ’90s  colour stands out for its uniform diffusion over  the  paint- ing  surfaces, like  a mist, giving a sublimi- nal  tone to secret stories taking place be- tween supernatural human figures placed in landscapes-sets. As the  ’90s progressed, in  portraits or  still  lifes,   the  brushstrokes emerge from the  colour fields, often bring- ing  to  mind Tsarouchis and Fassianos. In the  years that followed, the  colour on  ta- bles  decorated with  flowers and fresh fruit gains a radiant robustness that bodes the chromatic explosion of  his  landscapes  in the  2000s.  But  in recent portraits, too,  the white of  the  canvas or  the  paper is used as a means to  enhance the  colour twirls made by  each brushstroke, whose trace creates the   faces  and bodies against a minimal ground. The  volumes and the out- lines  are not  generated by lines  but  by loci of concentrated chromatic energy, and the perspective by  the  juxtaposition of  colour areas – even the  shadows, privileged field of  black, are determined by  the  different tonality of  adjacent brushstrokes. Hadoulis  has a purely physical relationship with colour, which is the  undisputed regulating factor in  his  painting; everything owes its existence to it and the  subject is but  a pre- text  for expression in colour.
His  new works, the  Rocks he  presents to- day, are dominated by  the  same indiffer- ence to realism and his obsession with  the colour dimension of  painting, which em- anates the  highlights of  southern France, of the  post-impressionists and the  Fauves, Bonnard   but    also   Tetsis:  monumental rocks, real entities forming ravines through grinding  rows   of   colour,  rocks  convers- ing  with  another rock, whose silhouette is barely visible at  the  edge of the  composi- tion,  rocks mirrored in the  water between the reflection of the sun or the moon, rocks standing hegemonic in  the  middle of  the sea. With his favourite splitting of the paint- ing  surface in two  pieces of  paper, or the addition of  an extra painted piece to  the lower part of  the  work, which appears to be  irrelevant to  the  main subject, he  suc- ceeds in detaching the  beholder from an emotional viewing of these works. Sometimes the  boundaries on the  outlines of  the  rocks and the  water are lost  in the depths of  a dark blue   and purple –  the mystery here is created not  by the  iconog- raphy but by the  chromatic manner of the painting itself,  which comes very  close to abstraction. In fact, the  colours often drip onto  the  paper like  a storm, leaving but  a fragment of  the  rock visible in  the  background, claiming a structural role  in  the composition. In the  rocks of Hadoulis, and for  the  first  time   in  his  oeuvre, we  move constantly from Monet’s haystacks  to  the self-sufficient gesturalism of an abstract ex- pressionism. His works in general, but espe- cially here, are seen with the same intensity both from a distance and from close up, inviting the viewer’s gaze to sink  into them, into the chromatic exaltation of a joy which is above all painterly.
Hadoulis aims for  the  same painterly ex- plosion in  his  ceramics. Here, for  the  first time  since 2000  when he  started working with  this medium, he moulds the  pots  him- self  on  the  wheel, in  the  form he  desires, in the  shape that will  allow him  to render the  same ‘outspread’ as characterizes his painting: octopuses unfolded in a circle at the  bottom of a dish, giltheads occupying the entire surface of the platter, eyes paint- ed  enigmatically on  the  back, mouth-wa- tering slices of watermelon and bright red poppies. Painting on  pottery requires the absolute unity of intention and execution, since mistakes cannot be  corrected afterwards. It is exactly this  economy of means that is related to the  speed and spontanei- ty of the  creative process Hadoulis pursues in his paintings.
In the  Rocks presented here, his  aim for  a succulent, generous painting, open to the gaze as well  as the  spirit,  seems to  have been truly fulfilled. These rocks incorporate in their  image the  effortless and spontane- ous way in which they  were painted, always from memory. However, the  typology with which  they   impose themselves upon us and invade our  space, while at  the  same time   operating independently of  one   an- other, betrays that they  are works of both the senses and the mind, of a painting that only  appears to  be  simple. In  contrast to the  sublime stone volumes of  a symbolist or romantic imagery, these rocks have left behind resolutely the  myth of darkness for light.
Painting,  like   life,   is  beautiful, and  here there is no guilt about it.


Rocks by Hadoulis

George C. Psaltis

A. It is a strange thing that takes place with Hadoulis’ rocks. Seeming as though they were always there -  and yet  that isn’t  true. In his works, time  becomes concretely rela- tive,  despite our awareness of its ceaseless flow.  What  is time  to do?  Time is one  and all  the  same at  different moments for  us all. No bodies - either in pain present or out of pain past - are to be seen. It’s been this way for  quite some years now  -  since the days when George used to  paint people like us within some nature. Then he turned people on their  backs - as elders swimming out  to sea -  then he  painted Nature, then portraits once  again  -   of  people alone, people plain, inside that space that’s all his own, his studio. Now he returns.

He brings to the island these rocks that are his  own. He will be  taking each one  back, to Athens. His shows are separate from all his daily doings. Each one  of us, ambitious, scared, incapable of hope. Because we’ve seen the water come from way beneath, or high  up - from above.
We have been looking at the wrong past all these years. It’s all too powerless to explain what happens now. The  rocks will  move; many by accident of force, most when they must.
But  in these last  years rocks are spoiled in ways that no one  can explain.
Rocks on their  way to us, yet they  will never rest  in places we  would find  well-suited. In any case, they’re unprepared to work as is- lands, so as to bid us welcome. The  painter George Hadoulis submits reality, as it has existed in his studio alone. (July 2014)

B. Hadoulis keeps his  studio on  a moun- tainside in Kifisia, in an apartment building that stands on  Harilaou Trikoupi Avenue.
His  Rocks were suffocating there, locked inside that rooftop chamber that was blind to the sea.
I saw them again on  Sifnos in July.  It was a well  cared for exhibition at Kastro, in the high-ceiling hall  of  the  Old  School. By  its breezy edge, the  ground there slightly ele- vated from the  rest  of the  room, Hadoulis had placed his ceramics. Plates and vases, fragile depictions of women, symbols and natural elements.
A large crowd gathered on  opening night. They looked at  the  works and then drift- ed out  into  the  yard. At the  bar, water and wine was served by two beautiful girls with boundless smiles whose baby teeth were absent and  who   later  –in   their   sleep  – awaited the arrival of the tooth fairy.
Many  Athenians were there, both holiday- makers and others who  had come for the occasion. I heard praises for  the  painter’s latest work. It truly  is, a thing quite rare, art that’s taken all in with  just one  glance.
The   people moved together, a  union of them placed upon a rock. They balanced on  it,  unconcerned with  the  vistas of  the island and the  sea at  night, but  instead invested in  being one  with  all  the  others there.
Those who  come to the  opening at Skoufa perhaps will know this  is the  glance they’ll carry with  them. They will no doubt impart it  to  the  rest,   the  ones who   will  be  look- ing  at  the  “Rocks” for  the  first  time. They too will probably take it all in with  just  one glance. Regardless if they  simply see  or fix their  eyes on them, on the hill where Kolon- aki  has been built.  (September 2014)

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