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Sunday, August 09, 2009

BACK IN ATHENS: The Icon Painter

Dimitris Zazanis, the icon painter
JUNE 18,2009

A couple of years ago my friend Anna Britt introduced me to this talented icon painter who she has been friends with for several years. I got interested in Dimitris Zazanis' icons after she had bought me one for a gift. So for the past couple of trips to Greece going for a visit to his workshop has been part of my visits to Athens.

Dimitris has a tiny shop on a ramshackle narrow street off the square of Monastiraki near the flea market and bazaar. He wasn't always located there. Anna Britt tells me that when she first met him, he had a much better shop on one of the more tourist-popular streets in Plaka. But, due to the hot real estate market in Athens some years ago he had to give up his shop and move to a more humble abode. Dimitris isn't into the posh touristic boutique style of shop. He works alone, a dedicate artist in a real workshop. His tiny space is crammed with the fruits of his labours: Icons of every size and religious subject, all hand-painted with loving care.

When Anna Britt and I visited him this trip, we sat and chatted awhile as we usually do. Dimitris speaks English and is in fact adept at several languages. He's an interesting, intelligent man. Despite health set-backs he runs his business on this shabby backwater street where few tourists would ever venture. Anna Britt and I encouraged him to get a website and advertise. He doesn't know about these things so we are thinking of setting one up for him, because he certainly does deserve publicity. His icons are beautiful works of art, not the mass-produced icons you see in tourist shops. I have two of them now and have bought icons for my children and my friends.

If you go to Athens, look for his humble little shop on this street, just off the main street that runs by Monastiraki. Aghias Theklas St. 13. The name of the shop is Zazanis Icon Shop.

After our visit to buy some icons, Anna Britt and I meandered around the old haunts. This street (below) is Vironos St. where I used to live at #14 Vironos all during the '80's. I always like to pass by and stop outside the gate. There are so many memories on this street!

Then we went over to Makgrianni to our favorite taverna and had something to eat and a cold Mythos beer (our favorite drink). It was good to be back in Athens and to have some days to spend with my girlfriends, wandering about all the old familiar places. On the weekend I'm going to Euboeia with my friends Dinaz and Andreas to visit the little village, Lala, where I used to live part-time and also to pay a visit to the cousins of our dear friend Graham who inherited his house in Stira after he unfortunately died. Five more days to catch up on news, memories and enjoy this city that I love so much!

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1 comment:

Nick Dagiantis said...

Hello, do you happen to have an email for Dimitri? I would like to contact him about making icons before I visit Greece. Thanks!