Koula Bekiari (1905-1992)

Audio tour

Paysage – Umbrellas on the beach, 1956, oil on hardboard, 85 x 90.2 cm

Looking at this work, the first thing that one notices are its striking colours and their numerous alternations. At first instance, the viewer might find it hard to understand exactly what is depicted. Reading the title, Umbrellas on the beach, we seek and find the two triangular shapes by means of which the umbrellas are rendered. A little lower, at the foot of the composition, blurred tones of blue give away the existence of a shoreline. The scene starts to become clearer. We stand on a beach, with the two umbrellas placed at the centre of the composition.

In this specific piece, it is colour that plays the leading role. The theme is expressionistically rendered and leans towards abstraction. For the artist, faithfully capturing the scene is not so much of a concern when compared to communicating her thoughts and emotions – which come to be experienced in an entirely personal fashion by us, the viewers. We are thereby invited to succumb to the allure and the vividness of the colours.

As a fine arts painter and engraver, Koula Bekiari was self-taught. She received no formal artistic lessons in any particular school, but was moulded by and within a circle of great Greek artists and intellectuals of the inter-war period. To be more precise, she studied art history next to writer Zacharias Papantoniou, painting next to Theophrastos Triantaphyllidis and Konstantinos Parthenis, and printmaking next to Giorgos Velissaridis and Georgios Moschos. Later on, she continued refining her skills in France, Italy and the Netherlands. Her oeuvre is governed and typified by an expressionistic idiom, an intuitive and bold use of colouring, as well as the creation of textures on the surface of her canvas.