Neo-romantic artist and die-hard Grecophile, John Craxton captured Greece, and mostly his beloved Crete, as if imagined by William Blake: arcadian, timeless, full of magical light - fluorescent almost - and quintessentially blissful. Celebrating a hundred years since John Craxton’s birth, a travelling exhibition titled “A Greek Soul” will commence in the Benaki Museum in Athens, with Crete and London to follow.
With a decidedly fresh gaze, Craxton finds the Greek soul in the things you’d snap and share with your friends on Instagram - if one could upload fifty-year-old paintings. His protagonists range from mischievous cats, frolicking goats, napping friends dazed by the summer heat, to sailors nibbling on fries and Greek salad at the taverna.
Craxton’s art style emerged as opposition, or rather a necessary survival mechanism for the young, then, painter, who experienced the horrors of WWII that marked his generation. Retreating to a bohemian lifestyle, he journeyed across Europe and found solace in his personal Arcadia, Crete. Feels quite apt to witness the world through his eyes in these dark times, and absorb some of the joy he preserved in his canvases.