After the Parthenon, they are probably the second most iconic sight in Athens; everyday visitors from around the world stand before them posing for selfies, admiring their fine features and wondering aloud about their distinctive uniform – a uniform which has a history that spans across the years, and is inextricably linked to Greece’s modern history and national identity; its most visible item is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment- which evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts who fought the Ottoman occupation and helped win Greek independence in 1821.
However, they are much more than just a tourist spectacle. They are the Evzones (colloquially called “tsoliades”)– the motionless soldiers of the Presidential Guard whose long history as an elite unit of the Hellenic Army begins in 1868 and whose duty nowadays is to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Syntagma Square 24/7, 365 days a year. They are the soldiers who say a lot without uttering a word; to this day, they play a significant ceremonial role and are part of all the things that make Greeks proud of their heritage: ancient grandeur, opposition to oppression, bravery, and faith.
Paying tribute to the country’s national symbol, sixty-four contemporary Greek artists participate in the exhibition “EVZONES”, framed by an original core of historical reference, consisting of photographs, historical relics, and collectibles from both public and private collections. More specifically, the show presents artworks by: Giannis Adamakis, Christina Athanasoula-Mantzavinou, Christina Aktidi, Christos Alatsakis, Nektarios Aposporis, Anna Achilleos, Katia Varvaki, Marilitsa Vlachaki, Irini Vogiatzis, Kiki Voulrigais Marika Galika, Marika Galika Despotaki, Maria Diakodimitriou, Frangiskos Doukakis, Apostolis Itskoudis, Katerina Ioannidis, Stavroula Kaziale, Sofia Kalogeropoulou, Minas Kampitakis, Vassilis Karakatsanis, Nikos Kitmeridis, Sofia Roza Kosmidou, Vassilis Lassimis, Vangelis Kyris, Vassilis Liaouris, George Louloudis, Tasos Mantzavinos, Lydia Margaroni, Minas Mavrikakis, Stella Meletopoulou, Giannis Metzikoff, Giannis Bekiaris, Georgia Bliatsou, Rouli Boua, Miltos Pantelias, Gefso Papadaki, Konstantinos Papamichalopoulos, Christina Paraskevopoulou, Panagiotis Pasantas, Liza Pentheroudaki, Stelios Petroulakis, George Saltaferos, Pavlos Samios, Christos Santamouris, Efi Sdoukou, Vassilis Soulis, Christos Stanisis Marina Stellatou, Konstantina Tzavidopoulou, Vaso Trigas, Claire Tsalouhidou-Chatzimina, Eleftheria Tseiko, Katerina Tsebelis, Virginia Filippousis, Pavlos Champidis, Manolis Charos, Athena Hadji, Artemis Hatziyiannakis, Anastasia Chatziri, Nicolas Christoforakis, Aristides Chryssanthopoulos.
Curated by Iris Kritikou and Nikos Vatopoulos, the exhibition is scheduled to take place through December 21, 2020, at the Athens City Museum/ Vouros-Eutaxias Foundation -an institution dedicated to the development of the city of Athens in modern times- in cooperation with the Phermeli Association whose commitment is to highlight the history, heritage, and importance of the Evzones.
The aim of both the organizers and the curators is for its modern imagery not to be consumed in stereotypical and graphic depictions of a “paper” image of Evzon, but to be reinforced with pulsating emotionally depicting paintings, portraits of people and heroes, as well as popular or academic painting patterns that were created and disseminated in the past; thus, to be embroidered with precious details that in an inspired conversation with the ancient and Byzantine past of the Evzones costume, lead to an organic modern inspiration. Last but not least, the aim is for the exhibition to travel to other cities, both in Greece and abroad, within the framework of Greece 2021 celebrations.
For a brief history on the mission and duties of the Presidential Guard, visit the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic official website
Visit also: “Greece 2021” Committee’s official website
See also on Greek News Agenda: Arts in Greece | “199”: a memento mori ahead of the Greek War of Independence bicentennial celebrations; The National Archaeological Museum celebrates the Greek War of Independence bicentennial; The works of the "Greece 2021" Committee are launched; Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Greek Revolution with Playmobil figurines; The visual representation of the 1821 Greek War of Independence through the eyes of Greek and foreign artists