Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When the parody of Euripides’s Medea first appeared on stage (1960s) as a comic interpretation of the classic drama of betrayal and vengeance, a heretic star was rising. That was Chrysanthos Mentis Bostantzoglou (1918-1995),   aka Bost, a prolific and sui generis Greek political cartoonist, playwright, lyricist and painter. Born in 1918 in Constantinople, Turkey, the artistically subversive Bost gained an equal amount of praise and lawsuits in his lifetime. He was admitted to the Athens School of Fine Arts but dropped out and created his own school of style and artistic expression. In his literary works, his deliberate misspelling stands out: his purpose was to criticise his arrogant contemporaries who cast aside plain Greek as common and prosaic for the use of high Greek, making however glaring mistakes due to their illiteracy.

As a playwright, Bost is satyrical in the Aristophanean style, using the tricks of the trade passed on by the old masters of comedy. In his own version of Medea, the protagonist punishes her children not because of Jason’s infidelity but for their misbehaviour. As a painter, he was deeply influenced by folk artist Theophilos and his “naif” style. His subjects include heroes of the Greek struggle of Independence and mythical creatures, all with a touch of surrealism. This year’s Athens Festival will feature a production of Bost’s Medea [video] on June 26 and 27.