Exhibition “Alphonso teaches Bronstein!” Print
Friday, 22 June 2018 22:15
Opening of the temporary exhibition “Alphonso teaches Bronstein!” at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, on Wednesday 27 June 2018, at 20.00.

Painting and engraving works by Nicolas Sphicas that treat chess are presented at the Museum of Byzantine Culture from 27 June to 2 September 2018 within the framework of the exhibition “Alphonso teaches Bronstein!”

The artist is inspired by the medieval figures of the “Book of Games” (Libro de ajedrez, dados, y tablas, 1283) by Alphonso X called the Wise (1221-1284), King of Castile and Leon. The abstract figures are mobilized so as to illustrate the “King’s Indian opening”. It is an opening studied by David Bronstein, a leading chess player of 20th century, which influenced even world chess champions.

In the world of Nicolas Sphicas the medieval figures, whose garments reflect the stylish Northern gothic styles, are depicted analyzing the modern chess theory. The games are sometimes accompanied by music; however, the main issue that is presented is mostly Alphonso’s way of thinking: the elevation of the game as means that abolishes the differences between different races, religions and dogmas.

An art happening titled “Friend games between two chess players” is going to be presented at the opening of the exhibition.


Nicolas Sphicas has studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Helwan University of Cairo and he obtained his PhD degree from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Fine Arts, Department of Visual and Applied Arts. He has shown his work in 25 solo and many group exhibitions. His name is included in several dictionaries and encyclopedias. Many of his works are found in private collections and Art Galleries.


An artistic trend which uses as a central concept the movement during a chess game. The term derives from Retro, meaning Return and Shah, meaning King, at this particular case the King of the chessboard. The term has been used by Nicolas Sphicas in 1993 to describe his painted works which express the sentiments that the metaphysical world of movement on the chessboard poses. The works proceed through an intuitive understanding of the game or through a position of the problem and represent the spiritual and intellectual energy which accumulates through the moves of the pieces about the chessboard.

Afissa resize

Critical Note

Nicola Sphicas’ paintings and watercolors on the theme of chess are exquisite and immensely intriguing. His decorative details and mosaic like patterns (reminiscent of Klimt) are compelling and original and while ancient sources inspire his work, he has introduced his personal elements, which are innovative and unique.

His work is characterized by a marvelous range of expression and his style plays noble homage to the grand Greek classical figurative tradition, including that continued by Chirico. At the same time, it calls to mind the delicate sparkle of Byzantine mosaics as well as the decorative patterns of Gustave Klimt and even the colorful lyrical abstraction of Kadinsky watercolors, and all of these with his own stamp of originality.

The connection he has found with the game of chess and so many others facets of art and life is really impressive and extremely interesting. However, his work is so varied and one can definitely distinguish the Egyptian influence in them, as the painter was born and raised in Egypt.

Denise McColgan
Curatorial Assistant
Department of Paintings and Sculpture
Yale Center for British Art

Museum of Byzantine Culture
“Kyriakos Krokos” Temporary Exhibition Hall
Duration of the exhibition: 27.6 – 2.9.2018
Opening Hours: 8.00-20.00
Entrance is free

For more information, please visit www.mbp.gr

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