Solo art exhibition by Vlassis Kaniaris ends the artists’ boycott of the military junta

The first half of the 60s was a flourishing period for Greek art, Greek artists were honored with prizes at international competitions and exhibitions. The government of Georgios Papandreou was trying to restart the country at the aftermath of the civil war when in April 1967 the military coup imposed a junta and put the country in a cast for seven years. The intellectuals, the artists and the writers adopted a voluntary distancing from anything public or state-organized in a silent protest against the dictators. In visual arts this self-restraint ended in May of 1969 with the exhibition of VlassisKaniaris (1928-2011) at the New Gallery in Kolonaki.

The authorities did not close down the exhibition and people flocked the gallery to see the peculiar art pieces: installations and sculptures made out of gypsum, wire and red carnations. In a symbolic gesture, the artist gave each guest a red carnation planted in a small gypsum cube. It meant that even though it is in a cast, the flower still grows. Since then, artists like Kokkinidis, Dekoulakos, Kopsidis, Valavanidis, Botsoglou, Psychopedis, etc., began to organize, under the nose of the military, exhibitions which had a political symbolism disguised under the interpretations of modern art movements from Europe.