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The sketch or the colour?
The colour
The glossary of flowers

«Yes, I often make dessines preparatoires or esquisses for my works. First, I make very small sketches [works], like this one, (15 x 15 cms. approx.) so that I can grasp the composition of my painting in its final form. Then I try to transfer this initial sketch [work] to the given surface of the painting. I place a sheet of paper on the canvas and draw the sketch with any repentirs. Next, I use a very fine paper, papier riz to be precise, for the final sketch. I transfer this sketch to the canvas using carbon paper. Afterwards, I give tone to the forms. My paintings come about in a somewhat strange way. When there's a certain intensity or peculiarity at some moment in life, images take shape in my mind and I endeavour to transfer these to the canvas. At first, vague shapes and colours appear that gradually begin to acquire form….»1. This is how Nikos Engonopoulos himself once described the first stages of his work and what we have in this book are 134 of those intermediate sketches; the sketches, that is, that adapt the initial composition to the chosen surface of the painting. In order that the creative process followed with such punctiliousness and precision by the surrealist Engonopoulos may become even clearer, corresponding preliminary «esquisse» and the final painting have, in several cases, been printed en face.

The preliminary sketches [works], which he called bozzetti 2 , usually small in size (12 x 10 cms., 13 x 11 cms., 15 x 9 cms. and, more rarely, 17 x 11 cms,. 18 x 15 cms., 27 x 19 cms.) and done in ink, crayon, watercolour or wax crayon, were used in the composition of the subject and the choice of colours and, in their final form, can evidently be regarded as he initial work. The final work was, as a rule, oil on canvas «cotton or linen», as taught by Parthenis 3 , in various characteristic sizes during the five decades of his work: mainly 120 x 100 cms., 125 x 131 cms., 150 x 110 cms. between 1938 and 1948; 91 x 71 cms., 92 x 73 cms., 93 x 72 cms. in the 1950s; and 55 x 46 cms. during the 1960s and 1970s 4. Following the coloured preparatory sketch, Engonopoulos would sketch the subject in charcoal and pencil on ordinary paper or papier riz, the dimensions of which were equal to those of the canvas, making at the same time any 'repentirs', the necessary adjustments, corrections and additions so that the composition would acquire the desired scale. He drew the lines in pencil, using fine charcoal from linden or willow for the outlines to create chiaroscuro effects.

This sketch was, in a manner of speaking, the final one and as such was transferred as faithfully as possible to the canvas and into colour. [...]

I. Vourtsis

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