In the beginning of March, Sifnos lost a great friend. Panayiotis Tetsis liked to introduce himself as “the painter with the brushes and the colours”, a way to express how colours and the Greek light affected his work until the last days of his long life.
“If at one point the universe gets completely dark, the paintings of Tetsis will work as generators of light”. Maybe these words of Kiki Dimoula, a poet and member of the Academy of Athens, describe in the best possible way the feeling one gets when looking at the artwork by Tetsis.
Born in the island of Hydra in 1925, the painter had a very special relationship with the Aegean landscape that inspired him for many of his works. He was giving an interview to the newspaper Kathimerini and he was standing in front of one his extraordinary black ink drawings, very much like the ones he made of Sifnos landscape, when he said: “No matter what, nobody can take this away from us. The grey rocks, the sea, the sun are ours. And they always will be. Yes, beauty can save us”.
Panayiotis Tetsis loved Sifnos for its beauty. He was saying “if Sifnos is my lover, Hydra is my mother and wife”. He got to know the island he called his lover by accident. Almost 50 years ago he had planned to go on vacation to Patmos, but he could not find boat tickets. Someone suggested Sifnos to him. He wired the municipal hotel to book a room and he set off for Sifnos. He was describing how the following morning he woke up to a blinding light and the view towards Kastro and Paros. The light mesmerised him. He returned to the island the following summer and rented a studio to work. He came back for Easter and then he kept coming back until he bought a little house, away from the sea, where he started working on large-scale artworks.
“The light here and the air help colours spread and bring the result that the artist is after. I love this landscape, not only for vacation – here I have created large-scale artworks and ink drawings. The earthy colours, the pine trees, the sea are turned into a blue memory and an island’s thought. The rocks face the sea and are held in by little greenery. Here the colour has its own voice, warmth and love”, he used to say about the island that became his second home.
Sifnos’ landscapes were depicted by the great artist with warm, attractive colours but also with black ink applied with a brush, a surprise for everyone that identified his work with colour. He explained his choice: “Black and white allow you to see more than colour. Colour does not set you free. When you see black and white, you participate, you become active, you trigger your imagination, in a way you collaborate to get the final result”.
Panayiotis Tetsis, painter, professor at the School of Fine Arts and member of the Academy of Athens, worshipped Sifnos; an island that honoured him a few years ago with an exhibition of his works at the Primary School of Kastro.
Farewell, dear friend. We will miss you.