Don’t get us wrong. Virtual exhibitions are all well and good. And while we appreciate the heroic efforts that our long-shuttered art hubs are going to, not to go quietly into the night, nothing really compares to enjoying art at close range, right?
Stroll past the National Gardens on your city wanderings from now until April and you can do just that. To mark the 200 year anniversary of the Greek Revolution, the gates of this city landmark (fronting Vasilis Sofias Ave) are currently hosting an open-air gallery of patriotic portraits, painted by the Belgian artist Benjamin Mary, to spotlight prominent heroes and lesser known figures of the Greek Revolution and Ottoman Greece.
A collaboration between the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the National History Museum and the Municipality of Athens, the outdoor gallery comprises 22 paintings, created mainly in Athens, between 1839 and 1844; and exhibited in public for the first time.
Freedom fighters, politicians, priests, scholars, philhellenes and everyday people all pose patiently for Benjamin Mary, a Belgian diplomatic in Greece, who managed to capture their expressions during this seminal moment in history when Greeks went to war shouting ‘Liberty or Death’.
Among the faces gazing out from the National Garden wall are Theodoros Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Lampros Kountouriotis, Ioannis Makrygiannis and Giannakis Hadjipetrou; immortal names you’ll find sprinkled all across the modern map of Athens.