Sophia Laskaridou (1882-1965)

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Nocturnal fantasy (Kavos Kyras), 1906, oil on canvas, 75.5 x 57 cm

Nocturnal fantasy is an evocative nocturnal seascape, a work by Sophia Laskaridou that dates from 1906. Troubled sea waters are bathed in moonlight, as a towering rock stands quite imposing with a lighthouse on its top. The overcast night sky is surrounded by the atmospheric glimmering of the moon, while – barely distinguishable – two airy female silhouettes can be seen sitting by the foot of the rocky hill, looking off towards the horizon, in such a way that the tension of their figures blends in perfectly with the roughness of the sea.

The site is the Lefkata cape on the Ionian island of Lefkada, also known as “Cape of the Lady” (Kavos Kyras), where, according to the myth, Sappho ended her life, throwing herself off the cliff after the unhappy ending of her love affair with Phaon. The theme is not faithfully rendered and, as a result, this indirect reference is not immediately traceable.

This specific work moves along the lines of romanticism, while from a technical perspective the artist draws as much on impressionism (in the treatment of the clouded sky) as on expressionism (in the intensity of the contours and the gestural writing with the strong brushwork used in the raging sea). Both the selected dark blue colour and the eerie mystical scenery disclose the symbolistic implications carried by the myth chosen by Laskaridou, whilst coming to add to this is the prevalence of the forces of nature over man.

The multitude of diverse aesthetic elements used here by the painter in a very individual manner, are harmonically combined, attesting to the breadth of her explorations and the depth of her research. Sophia Laskaridou was the first Greek woman ever admitted to the Athens School of Fine Arts, while she later furthered her studies, first in Munich and then in Paris. Relying on a solid and broad-based educational background, she soon managed to formulate a personal and particularly dynamic artistic style.