Lust & A Literary Walk of Athens
Updated: May 10, 2021
“Creativity takes courage” – Henri Matisse
Creativity takes courage, and the capacity to dare yourself inspires confidence. Confidence is sexy. Therefore creativity is sexy.
The exhibition above is part of the Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery, a building that houses Ghika’s original studio and was donated by the artist personally to be a part of the Benaki Museum. During Ghika’s lifetime the building acted as a sort of cultural hub where Ghika hosted not just Patrick Leigh Fermor & John Craxton but also many other artists, writers and students. The sixth floor where Ghika’s studio is located was an extension designed personally for him and has been preserved since his death in 1994.
The sexiest part of the studio? Ghika had one wall lined with a two-story bookshelf, complete with a Beauty & The Beast style ladder to reach the second floor, and various other packed bookshelves both in his studio and in his living quarters on the floor below.
Phidias Street Literary Salon Of the many Europeans who came to Athens in the nineteenth century, one in particular made a tremendous impact in the world of arts and letters. Anton Prokesch von Osten, an Austrian adventurer, diplomat and writer served as ambassador to Athens from 1834 to 1849. His contribution to Athenian salon cultural history cannot be overstated. The Austrian residence was the site on which European cultural figures visiting Greece used to converge to discuss art, literature, politics, history and language. Seeing this neoclassical edifice in a sorry state of disrepair, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that this used to be the place where legendary gatherings were held and Barron von Osten hosted such figures as Hans Christian Andersen.
Athenian Literary Culture Whilst the building above now acts as a canvas for artistic graffiti artists of the 21st Century, some part of the 20th Century literary culture remains in Zonar’s Café on Panepistemiou Boulevard and the now relocated Brazilian Coffee Stores on Valaoritou street. Back in the late 1930s Zonar’s was the place to be seen for literary and celebrity greats, and whilst the entire restaurant has undergone a drastic redesign, the thought that creativity was thrown around inside the same venue less than 80 years ago gives it a certain jazz. The Brazilian Coffee Stores used to be another old literary café located on the same street, and whilst the interior and decor was moved to another venue, Brazilian still retains its unique history and atmosphere of the old times.
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Written by Constantine Kalogroulis