By William S. Bike
Greektown is celebrating the National Hellenic Museum’s reopening with the world premiere of Resilience, a photographic exhibition by Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark.
The museum has been closed since the early days of the covid pandemic in 2020.
“We are delighted to welcome the public back to the museum to experience these exquisite images as seen through the lens of an artist who captures the magnificent and timeless beauty of nature,” said NHM executive director Marianne Kountoures.
The exhibition will be on view at the museum at 333 S. Halsted St. from Friday, Sept. 16, through Friday, Dec. 30.
The exhibition features 19 large photographs as well as the multimedia photo installation Together, presented in a separate room. All the works are archival giclee color prints on fine art paper.
Gazette Chicago obtained an exclusive interview with Prince Nikolaos, who noted that, although he had been in Chicago and the Greektown community for only 48 hours, he already was a fan of the area.
“I’m blown away by the beauty of the city,” Nikolaos told Gazette Chicago. “The people are so nice. Even people you meet on the street are friendly. And the National Hellenic Museum has been incredibly supportive.”
He noted his art in the exhibition centers around three aspects of nature manifested in Greece: the olive tree, grapevines, and the sea. He was inspired by 20th century Greek poet Odysseas Elytis, who said, “If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see an olive tree, a grapevine, and a boat remain. That is, with as much, you reconstruct her.”
“As an artist, Prince Nikolaos is always drawn to open spaces, and nature has been an integral theme and presence in his work,” said Marilena Koutsoukou, curator of Resilience.
The exhibition features the North American premiere of Together, a special room with a life size illuminated photograph of two embracing olive trees, accompanied by outdoor nature sounds, including crickets and tiny owls native to Greece—”the sound of an owl whistling for its mate” and the echo-like sound of its mate’s response, Nikolaos explained.
The two trees image also is reminiscent of lovers seeking each other. “I found those trees not in an olive grove, but growing in the wild,” Nikolaos explained. “The work actually consists of 18 separate images blended together. A lot of people get the impression that the artwork is moving.
“People see a lot of different images in Together,” he continued. “A smile and the head of a horse are two of them. In London, someone asked me, ‘Can you tell us where the owl is?’ There isn’t an owl in the artwork, but there is on the soundtrack. I was proud that, when I showed it in London, a bunch of youngsters lay down on the floor just to stare at it, using their backpacks as pillows.”
Nikolaos told Gazette Chicago he is considering creating a 3D-printed version of Together.
The exhibit begins with a work called Resilience, an artistic photographic rendering of the Greek flag with photos of the sea representing the blue in the flag. “I’ve done a similar work with white marble and mirrors, with the work facing the sea so the mirrors reflect the blue of the water,” Nikolaos explained.
The show also prominently features Sea Cred, a photographic rendering of the ocean onto 272 credit cards made of plastic debris recovered from ocean beaches and coastal communities. Nikolaos through this work highlights the fact that, on average, a human consumes an amount of plastic each week roughly equal to the weight of one credit card through food, water, and the air, according to a University of Newcastle study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.
He is pleased his exhibit will kick off the reopening of the museum, which closed during the covid pandemic and caused his exhibit to be postponed multiple times.
Nikolaos has worked in television production, foreign exchange options, and business consulting as well as in the office of King Constantine, the last king of Greece. He served in the British Army with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Nikolaos has been a photo artist since 2013 and serves on the board of Knightsbridge Schools International and Axion Hellas, an organization that supports small communities in Greece. He has lived in Italy, Great Britain, and the U.S. He and his wife now live in Greece.
The NHM is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include admission to all exhibits. Discounts are available for seniors, students, and children. For more information, visit nationalhellenicmuseum.org or call (312) 655-1234.
For more on Nikolaos, log on to www.princenikolaos.gr.