This exhibition dedicated to John Craxton’s life and work is held on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth and 75 years since his first visit to Crete.
Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, Halidon 98-102
Tel: +30 28210 92294 and +30 28210 92419
8th October 2022 – 31st January 2023
Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 14:00 and 19:00 to 22:00.
Closed on Sundays
The exhibition includes a total of about 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and objects mainly from the Craxton Estate, but also 20 works donated by friends of the artist who live in Chania.
The tapestry “Landscape with elements of nature” woven with threads of 500 different colors, which Craxton had designed when he was forced to flee Greece during the Dictatorship, will occupy, as in the Benaki Museum, a central role in the exhibition, as it tribute to the Cretan textile industry. It is worth noting that this is the first time the exhibition has traveled outside the place of her creation, Edinburgh.
Another unexpected exhibit will be the vintage motorcycle that was the creator’s inseparable companion on his travels and explorations in the White Mountains.
The exhibition is curated by the artist’s friend and biographer, Ian Collins – whose best-selling book “John Craxton: A Life of Gifts” won the Runciman Prize 2022. This biography is also published in Greek under the title “John Craxton, Life’s Beloved. A Greek soul” from Pataki publications.
Born in London, into a large, music-loving and bohemian family, John Craxton only wanted to draw and paint. From a young age, inspired by the mythology and archaeological finds he saw in the museum showcases, he yearned to live and work in Greece.
Domenikos Theotokopoulos , most widely known as El Greco (“The Greek”), became his favorite painter from the moment he got to know his works, which the father of a classmate had in his collection.
He followed his inspiration and imagination to develop into a child prodigy. From the age of 19, in the middle of the Second World War, he shared the same laboratory with his good friend, Lucian Freud, while at the first opportunity he was given – in May 1946 – he landed in Greece and initially settled in Poros. Until his death in November 2009, almost all of his art focused on the life, light and landscapes of Greece.
He traveled a lot throughout the Greek territory and in the 1950s he spent long periods on the island of Hydra, in the mansion of his Greek friend the painter Nikos Hatzikyriakos – Gikas. However, he loved Crete from the first moment he set foot on its soil, in 1947.
In the summer of 1960, Craxton moved into a dilapidated house in the port of Chania. His workshop was on the top floor and he was fascinated by the fact that under his feet the different levels of the history of the place were unfolding – Ottoman, Venetian, Byzantine, Ancient Greek, Minoan – a feeling he wanted to capture in his brightly colored works of.
An excellent portraitist and landscape painter, but at the same time a cosmopolitan, he could at one time socialize with his famous friends – among them are the author Patrick Le Fermore (whose book covers he designed) and the Nobel Prize-winning poet Giorgos Seferis, for whose home he created the lamps in the form of a mermaid (replicas of which are hosted in the exhibition) – but also with humble fishermen, sailors and shepherds with whom he conversed and captured in his works, wanting to capture as deeply as he could the authentic spirit of Greece.