Dimitris Mytaras, who passed away on February 16, 2017, was one of the most important painters and set designers belonging to the 1960s generation of Greek artists.
Born on June 18, 1934 in Chalkida, he was the son of a barber; his mother died a few days after his birth. He began painting in high school using a wall in his house as his first canvas, he recalled in an interview.
Mytaras began studying at the School of Fine Arts in 1953, concentrating in painting. He graduated in 1957 having two great artists, Spyros Papaloukas and Yiannis Moralis, as teachers.
In 1957, he exhibited his works for the first time in Athens at the 5th Panhellenic Art Exhibition at the Zappeion Megaron. His first solo exhibition was at the Zygos Gallery in 1960.
His classmate at the school was the woman who would become his wife, Chariklia Triantafyllou, whom he married in 1961. According to the law at the time, she assumed his last name.
The same year, with a scholarship from the State Scholarship Foundation, the couple continued their studies in set design and interior design at the Ecole Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, staying there until 1964.
Back from Paris
Upon his return from Paris, Dimitris Mytaras taught interior design at the Athenian Institute of Technology (Doxiadis School), which he and his wife reorganized.
At the same time he designed sets and costumes for a series of major theatrical productions. He collaborated with the State Theater of Northern Greece, the National Theater and the Art Theater of Karolos Koun.
“He was not a man of the theater,” his wife explained in a later interview, “but through the theater, he escaped the loneliness of the workshop.”
In 1969 Mytaras began teaching at the School of Fine Arts. In 1975 he achieved tenure and from 1982 until 1985 he served as rector of the school.
In 1978, in parallel with his work as an educator and with the help of the municipal authority, he founded the Chalkida Art Workshop in his hometown, appointing his wife as director of all educational and cultural activities.
The body of work of Dimitris Mytaras, both in painting and scenography, is extensive. He participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Greece and abroad.
His art works have traveled to Alexandria, Paris, Sao Paulo, Frankfurt, Bologna, Florence, Venice, Genoa, Belgrade, New York, Stockholm, Tokyo and other cities.
The artist also worked in illustration and various other visual applications. He decorated many public and private buildings, including hotels and banks, with murals.
One of his works, “Dexileos,” is featured at the Dafni station in the Athenian metro system. His work extended also to theoretical texts and studies on art in books and articles in the press, as well as poetry.
He was honored with two awards and five distinctions for the many works of art he created throughout his career. In 1985 the Municipality of Chalkida awarded him the gold medal of the City.
Art critics extol Mytaras
In 2001, then President of the Republic, Konstantinos Stefanopoulos, made him a Brigadier General of the Order of the Phoenix.
In 2008 he was elected a full member of the Academy of Athens, but two years later he became inactive due to health problems, including optic neuropathy.
Mytaras died of health complications on February 16, 2017 in Athens, at the age of 82.
Art critic Manos Stefanidis declared “Dimitris Mytaras is one of the most important representatives of the 1960s generation… most of his work focuses in the relationship between old and new and the juxtaposition of graphic design with traditional forms.”
Marina Lambraki, from Plaka, another art critic, stated “If you take Mytaras out of Greece’s history of art, then you will realize how poor it would be.”