A year af­ter his death, Tet­sis’s Hy­dra home turns into a mu­seum

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY MAR­GARITA POURNARA

All of my en­coun­ters with painter Panayi­o­tis Tet­sis, who died a year ago at the age of 91, tended to be beau­ti­fully rit­u­al­is­tic: He would wel­come me with a small plate of sweet fruit pre­serve and a cup of Greek cof­fee, we would dis­cuss art and life, and be­fore see­ing me off with the prom­ise of a next en­counter, he would ply me with flow­ers from his gar­den or a bag of fresh fruit or veg­eta­bles from his lo­cal mar­ket in the Athens district of Kolon­aki.

The meet­ing I hold clos­est to my heart, how­ever, was when I vis­ited his an­ces­tral home on the Sa­ronic is­land of Hy­dra in 2005, a pe­riod dur­ing which he was work­ing on a se­ries of por­traits of his clos­est friends. It was a sparkling win­ter’s day and to­gether we walked up to the house, a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of lo­cal 19th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture. It had a wine cel­lar and the ground floor had served as a gro­cery store-cum-tav­erna run by his fa­ther, which had re­mained as it was for decades – with dust-sprin­kled wares still stand­ing on the shelves as though time it­self had come to a stand­still – af­ter the end of World War II.

Tet­sis spent his child­hood in this house be­fore his fam­ily moved to Pi­raeus, and in the late 1980s the artist trans­formed the ground floor space into a stu­dio where he would work while stay­ing on the is­land, of­ten host­ing his stu­dents dur­ing win­ter vis­its. In 2007, he do­nated the build­ing to the Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum’s His­tor­i­cal and Eth­no­log­i­cal So­ci­ety so it could be turned into a mu­seum to show­case his stu­dio and work.

So far, the so­ci­ety has com­pleted the task of doc­u­ment­ing all of the artist’s works and pos­ses­sions. Mark­ing the first an­niver­sary of his death on March 5, the so­ci­ety opened the premises for a few hours to fam­ily and friends who wanted to pay homage to Tet­sis, a man known for his un­af­fect­ed­ness and gen­eros­ity, in keep­ing with the spirit of hos­pi­tal­ity that he was so fa­mous for.

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