“Mount Athos for Artists”: The Greek Island of Hydra

Hydra has become the destination for creatives, serving as a geographic muse for artists from Henry Miller to Leonard Cohen.

Sixty-two years ago, a young, unknown Leonard Cohen bought a dilapidated three-story house in the upper part of town.

Leonard Cohen playing guitar on Hydra in 1960.

The island may be a far cry from the image of primitive simplicity that first appealed to bohemians like Cohen, but it’s still a mecca for artists.

“So many of our heroes, so many of our idols were here,” said Alexis Veroukas, a Greek painter who moved to the island a decade ago. The Guardian.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a holy place, Mount Athos for artists.”

British painter William Pownall agrees that rugged natural beauty played a vital role in anchoring him to Hydra.

The 87-year-old was not only a friend of Cohen, but has fond memories of the island’s unparalleled hospitality.

British painter William Pownall in his Hydra studio. Photography Helena Smith / The Guardian

“The Greeks were very good to us foreigners,” he recalls in his waterfront studio, canvases stacked along the walls.

Talking about life on the island, Pownall talks about early morning awakenings, midday rests and the sound of water.

“It can bring the tranquility you seek when trying to convey peace and stillness,” the artist explains.

The essence of the island and its metaphysical dialogue between the contemporary and the ancient can be perfectly summed up in the work of Jeff Koon. Apollo Exhibition which is on view until October 31.

The exhibit features the iconic image of Apollo’s weather vane as well as contemporary offerings to the sun god in the form of polychrome bronze feasts and sneakers.

Jeff Koon, Nike sneakers (2020-2022). Photo: Eftychia Vlachou

Koons promises an immersive multi-sensory experience. To get more full effect, French journalist Judith Benhamou-Huet’s video on the site is worth checking out.

About Wesley Williamson

Check Also

Why should we celebrate British sentimentality

We laughed at Charles getting annoyed with a faulty pen. We should cherish that laughter …