Nikos Engonopoulos

Art on This Day


Nikos Engonopoulos, a modern Greek painter and poet based in Athens was born on this day, 21 October, in 1907. He is one of the most important members of "Generation of the '30s", as well as a major representative of the surrealism movement in Greece. His work as a writer also includes critique and essays.


In 1914, when Engonopoulos was 7, he and his family visited Constantinople for a trip and were obliged to settle there due to the outbreak of World War I. After that he stayed and studied for four years in Paris. After returning to Greece, he served as a private in the 1st Infantry Regiment. Later on he worked as a translator in a bank and as a secretary at the University of Athens. In 1930, he was employed as a designer in the Urban Planning Department of the Greek Ministry of Public Works. In 1932 he joined the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he studied under the supervision of Konstantinos Parthenis. He also attended classes at the art studio of Photios Kontoglou. During that time he met important artists, the poet Andreas Embirikos and painters such as Yannis Tsarouchis, Giorgio de Chirico and Yannis Moralis.


His first paintings, mostly temperas on paper depicting old houses, were presented at an Art of Modern Greek Tradition exhibition, organised in January 1938. For following couple of years after the exhibition, he published translations of poems by Tristan Tzara and his own collections of poems, Do Not Distract the Driver and The Clavicembalos of Silence. Three years after his first individual exhibition in 1939, he finished his most popular long poem Bolivar, a Greek Poem, inspired by the revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar and published in 1944. Overall, he is considered one of the finest surrealist poets of Greece.