Prominent Satements to the Art of Lepanto

Lepanto’s oeuvre transcends the confines of landscape painting: his importance communicates itself more through the impact of his comprehensive theory of the world. His work is part of a whole which reflects the artist as a polymath who, besides being a painter, has published extensively in the field of German philology and art history and has, in addition, developed a potent ecological message. He started painting at a relatively mature age; nevertheless, both thematically and artistically, his work is characterised by impressive consistency. His “insistence” on painting landscapes is for Lepanto a means of re-evaluating the natural environment, however, not with the intention of representing landscapes realistically, but through the search for their soul. With a strictly considered choice and seemingly with great ease he arranges romantic and surreal elements in his work, having no regard for realistic reproduction; all that without going beyond formal boundaries or subscribing to total abstraction. Lepanto views the classic artistic profession of landscape painting from a different angle. The motifs he chooses, the Greek mountains and valleys, Tuscan and German landscapes, but also the townscapes e.g. of Heidelberg where he lives, are devoid of any idealisation, though dominated by the aesthetics of order and harmony. The creation of a natural space, closely connected with human beings, even if they are not depicted, is one of the intrinsic characteristics of his art. The restoration of the connection between man and the natural environment is a fundamental prerequisite of an ecological consciousness. For the painter Lepanto, taking the idea further, this is “ecological art”. The exhibition hosted by the Benaki Museum is the result of fruitful long-term collaboration between painter and museum. It displays more than 100 largeformat works offering the Greek public a comprehensive and representative introduction to the painter’s art. Finally, we should not omit to express our grateful acknowledgement of the valuable contribution of Lepanto’s fondly remembered friend, Prof. Papadimitriou who, as a member of the board of governors of the Benaki Museum, was the first to propose the realisation of this exhibition.

(Constantinos Papachristou Arthistorian Benaki Museum)

What has always deeply impressed me about Wassili Loukopoulos- Lepanto’s work is the determination with which, for the past thirty years, he has single-mindedly pursued his chosen path. He has ignored all the fashionable inflationary trends which, as part of so-called post-modernism, have attempted to dominate the art world. From the very beginning, Lepanto has perceived it as his mission, through evoking an intact harmony between life and nature in his paintings, to place himself in the service of the ecological movement which has changed the consciousness of so many people. Consequently, in Germany he is acknowledged by the Green Party as their most important art representative. While he initially found recognition mainly in Heidelberg, through his paintings, writings and postcards he has increasingly become the figurehead of ecologically oriented art whose influence is felt not only throughout Germany, but all over Europe – in those places at least where people have realized that protecting nature is one of mankind’s major priorities.
(Prof. Jost Hermand professor of cultural sciences, Madison, USA, 2011)

Wassili Lepanto (his artist’s name) is a Greek painter in the diaspora. He lives and works in Heidelberg, the famous historic university town in Germany, an unusual example of an academic who became a painter through studying literature and art history and not through attending a college of art. He is influenced by drawing, to a great extent by colour, as well as his innate ability, his creative graphic imagination and natural talent. His varied academic studies have providedhim with theoretical knowledge, which guides him. When put into practice the artistic result is grounded theoretically and philosophically.
On the occasion of his retrospective exhibition in the Benaki Museum Athens and with the special catalogue accompanying it, a first attempt is made to approach his work with the objective of examining it comprehensively in its historic dimension, not only partially, as is frequently the case with art critics. Concentrating exclusively on Wassili Lepanto’s landscapes, and his artistic individuality as a painter, is an interesting challenge but not without its difficulties, even if one is familiar with his work.
From his first appearance on the European art scene to the present day Lepanto’s work has been a topic of discussion among the press, art critics, intellectuals and art historians. He himself has contributed autobiographical and theoretical texts which, on the one hand, help the scholar to uncover the deeper meaning of his work, on the other hand prevent him from approaching it with a clear, objective eye. This fresh attempt to access Lepanto’s work complements the extensive literature on the subject2 and collates current interpretations and trends. In addition it also seeks to analyse the way in which Lepanto, the scholar destined for an academic career, has become a painter who is today considered the principal representative of ‘ecological art’, has been accepted as such and has made a name for himself outside of Germany.

(Dora Markatou, Introduction to the Artist and his Work, 2011)

The Greek Wassili Loukopoulos (Lepanto) has found his second home in the university town of Heidelberg. He grew up in Greece, mainly in Athens and he adopted the name of his father’s home town Nafpaktos (=Lepanto) as his artistic name. The Greek Lepanto experienced his intellectual birth in the Athens of the North, as the Romantics often referred to Heidelberg. Here he read German Studies, History and Educational Studies, Philosophy and Art, in order to finally obtain a PhD from the University of Mannheim, where he wrote his PhD dissertation on a linguistic-philosophical topic.
Wassili found his way to painting in the 1970’s, because he saw in art a wider and more important field of work than in the humanities. The town of Heidelberg, “the most beautiful one with a rural ambience in the fatherland”; as the poet Hölderlin put it, was at least partially responsible for this decision. Even in earlier times like the baroque, the most sensitive artists have learned here to appreciate the beauty of nature. In the topography of Heidelberg Goethe recognized something “ideal” which could only fully comprehended “if you were familiar with landscape painting”, as he noted in his diaries from the journeys to Switzerland from 1797. The opposite is also true. Lepanto developed his idea of landscape by dealing with the town.
(Friedrich Strack, Return to the Myth? The Visual Messages of the Painter Wassili L. Lepanto in: exhibition catalogue Geneva, Athens, Düsseldorf 1996/97)

“He (Lepanto) had finished his studies at university when he turned to painting and that was like a second birth.
He became a painter and it turned out that he was born to be a painter …”
Hans-Georg Gadamer (1991)