Konstantinos Maleas (1879-1928)

Audio tour

Monemvasia (Houses at Monemvasia), 1920-28, oil on cardboard, 50 x 57.5 cm

Monemvasia (painted in 1924-1928) is one of the landscapes that Maleas created during his last and most mature period.

We are standing on high ground, facing a slope that winds down to the sea and the distant horizon. In the background, the rock of Monemvasia stands grandiose. The landscape is depicted in overlaid colour zones, for us to observe, successively, the slope, the trees, the sea and the rock. The choice of clear and bright colours is interesting, as they capture the intensity, the glow and the purity of Greek light. The painterly world of Maleas, who has brought a new perspective to modern Greek painting, is defined by geometry. He designs his landscapes with a penetrating look, expressiveness and wisdom. Details are simplified, reduced to the essentials. The pines are elliptical in shape, the cypress has the form of a cone, and the sea is rendered with a single shade of blue. Yet, the composition as a whole is far from simplistic, as the streamlined individual elements, coupled with the use of very bright colours, bestow it with pulse and rhythm.

Maleas’s landscapes are based on the geometry and the sequencing of shapes. Colour is not only dominant but also used to define the contours, an element that draws from the expressionistic idiom.

Konstantinos Maleas has steered away from the tenets and classifications of Academicism to create a distinct, thorough and personal style, sagacious and complete.