Offerings of Light
Paintings and Studies
The Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, New York, will be host to a memorial retrospective of the works of Theo Stavropoulos, who taught at the college for 25 years. The exhibition will include the artist’s paintings and studies spanning six decades of work up until a few months before his death in 2007. Though “contemporary” modern art, one cannot merely define Stavropoulos’s body of work simply as abstract as it contains elements of both the abstract and figurative. His canvases house apparitions that similarly suggest and defy literal interpretation.
Theo successfully transformed his canvases into receptacles of light, a common denominator running through all of his work until the end. He always searched for a profound and inner light which transcended reality and elicited a psychological and emotional response from the viewer. Additionally, his comprehension of the relationship between the dark and the light through the subtle and later, less subtle use of color, was a very important element in his work.Theo always felt that great art is timeless and transcends affectation, fashion and styles of the times. His mission was not to please with his art but to meet the mind of the observer and make them stop and think. He felt that creating art that was too pretty could be a distraction from that mission and that solely a sensory response was not sufficient.
For reasons including his total disillusionment with the current art trends, Theo purposely elected to remove himself from the art world in 1990; there were just a handful of his exhibitions of his work from then on because of this decision. He considered his art his diary and the business of art a difficult distraction that he no longer wanted to be part of. He continued to paint until 2006, a few months before his death.
Theo Stavropoulos was born in 1930 in Athens, Greece, where he studied under Georgios Gounaropoulos and at the Polytechnic School of Athens. In 1945, he left for Paris to study art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he studied under M. Souverbie as well as attending studio classes with Andre Lhlote and Fernand Leger. Pablo Picasso, a contemporary and friend of Souverbie, one day visited his art class and conferred upon Stavropoulos the “right to paint”.
Theo received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Yale University under Josef Albers and left Paris in 1955. He always considered this an important milestone in his life which was to ultimately affect the direction of his artwork. He taught at Bridgeport University and then eventually at Herbert H. Lehman College as an Associate Professor until he retired in 1990.
1965 he moved his family to New York City and continued to teach at Bridgeport University until he got a job at the City University in New York which ultimately became Lehman College. As a teacher and mentor to a generation of artists, he was much beloved by his students and whether they went on to become artists themselves or chose another route in life, his teachings left a lasting impression with them.
As an artist Theo enjoyed a massive following and he showed successfully in many galleries all over the city, including 57th street, nationwide and overseas including Germany, Egypt and Italy. His work is in private and public collections including the Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris, Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, Remington Rand Company and National Broadcasting Company.