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Themis Tsironis on Skiathos

- by Jeremy Guest

Many years ago I used to visit the island of Skiathos quite regularly. I don't go so often now as the island has become rather too popular and cosmopolitan for my taste. Even then the locals were complaining at how the Athenian mainlanders were taking over Skiathos. Nowadays the taverna owners are more likely to be Albanian or Russian rather than Greek.

Things got so bad that even a McDonald's appeared briefly in Skiathos Town. Anyway, in earlier days the streets of Skiathos Town has many odd arts and crafts shops – again unlike the tatty tourist trinket shops that run the length of Papadiamantis Street these days.

While rummaging around in one such shop, some rather attractive picture postcards took my eye.

The postcards were of paintings by a Greek folk artist called Themis Tsironis and quite wonderful painting they were – mainly of scenes from Greek life, notably fishermen and boats, and of Greek history, notably Cretan, and mythology.

Many of the originals had been painted on wood and the painting was crudely direct with vivid colours roughly drawn in that typical naive folk art style that remind me of the paintings and drawing of children.

Pictured here is 'Fisherman and Mermaid' painted on wood in 1978. Another gripping painting is 'Sant People' from 1982, again painted on wood and depicting Greek figures in a large crowd, from ancient philosophers to wartime resistance fighters.

I have sought high and low to find out more on this artist, even ringing up experts in the National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum in Athens but no one appears to know much about him.

Searches on the internet have uncovered more paintings but nothing on the artist himself. I would be grateful if anyone could tell me more about the artist and his works. Most of all I would love to own an original.