Sunday, March 1, 2015

Theophrastos Triantafyllidis, Flea Market

Theophrastos Triantafyllidis, Flea Market, 1943

Theophrastos Triantafyllidis (1881-1955) was a Greek painter whose style shows the influence of Impressionism, but his work progresses to Expressionism and his own brand of Modernism. Born in the Anatolian city of Izmir, Triantafyllidis studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts and spent time studying in both Munich and Paris.  His early work bears a resemblance to Post-Impressionists like Gauguin and Cezanne, with soft forms and impassioned presentation of his subjects.  As he progressed into the 1930s, his work became more abstracted and unique.  Flea Market is perhaps the most fully realized (or most extreme) example of this style.  With blank faces and vague outlines of the figures, the scene could easily be lost in abstraction, but Triantafyllidis manages to keep all the elements distinct and present.  The background fades into a haze, with only the merest suggestion of the buildings, but it also remains discernible.  With rich colors and interesting shapes, this painting is surprisingly compelling.  The piece shows the crowded street with an air of intrigue, thanks mostly to the indistinct nature of the scene.  While we can certainly make out particular people on the street, identify a buyer and seller on the left for example, the overall impression of the scene is of a mass of people, swarming and packed together.  Again, Triantafyllidis creates this effect with his abstraction.  A flea market is the perfect scene for this style; Triantafyllidis was able to take advantage of his style to create the particular effects of the setting.  The painting also has philosophical tension, portraying the traditional scene of a street market in a highly modern painting style.  To my eye juxtaposition is quite effective.

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