AMM Feature: Omiros, a Great Master Unveiled and Discovered

“It’s a tremendous body of work that is so special, unique and masterful that it must be shared, seen and experienced by all. This is his ultimate gift to humanity: a private life’s work finally seen.” Marlene Saile, Curator and Executive Director Atelier Omiros

On a crisp December evening, just forty miles from Manhattan, in Bedford New York, many received an early holiday gift. A great master was unveiled and discovered. Atelier Omiros introduced the Atelier as the home of Omiros Chrisopoulos, the artist that was known as Omiros. Just a stone’s throw away from newly renovated Bedford Playhouse/Clive Davis Arts Center (a classic movie theater circa 1947 and a not-for-profit community hub), guests mingled in this elegant and intimate setting. 

Atelier Omiros in Bedford New York

When asked about the location and space, Marlene Saile, Curator and Executive Director of Atelier Omiros explains, “I am very familiar with Bedford as I lived here 20 years ago. Bedford is a combination of very, very old Bedford (some of the descendants of the original settlers are still here), very old Bedford (people living here for 2-3 generations), the old Bedford (people living here 20+ years) and the private Bedford that is home to many stars. Walk into any Bedford location and you may run into any of its luminaries like Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Chevy Chase, Glenn Close, Richard Gere, Katherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, Michael Crichton and others. It’s Aspen without the fuss, Montana before Ted Turner, East Hampton without the traffic, the scene or the gossip columnists. Bedford is an old-fashioned small village, country, farms, barns, and a horse or two grazing in a paddock in the front or side lawn of an understated bespoke home. Bedford, because of its residents, Bedford is also steeped in tradition, community and privacy. It is also one of the 250 richest towns in America in 2017, according to Worth magazine. Bedford is country. It has over 100 miles of riding trails through conservation land and individual landowners’ properties for riders to walk,  trot or gallop on dirt roads, through rivers and streams and across big open fields filled with fragrant flowers and natural wonders.”

Chris and Peter Duncan at the red carpet at Atelier Omiros’ inaugural opening.

So that is part of the natural, charming, understated, elegant country home style of the Atelier. When people walk into galleries, they immediately feel the pressure to buy something. I did not want that “feel” for the Atelier. People choose to live in Bedford because of the “no pressure”, “private” life style. So, the Atelier is like walking into your private country home with beautiful art by a master.  Bedford is still an old-fashioned small village where people come together to enjoy the community. According to Chris Burdik, the Town of Bedford’s supervisor: ”There are lots of spaghetti dinners at the local firehouses, lots of carnivals at the schools and Memorial Day parades, farm stands with locally grown produce, and services that are straight out of Norman Rockwell, along with the most sought out charity galas of any season. It’s really a very unassuming, community-oriented place to live.’’ 

“So the atelier has to become a thread in the very special fabric of this community. It has to have a relationship of giving back as well. This is why I am also opening La Galleria next door. That gallery will be the home of local artists and involve the community with local projects. It will be symbiotic with the Atelier. More on that soon. Still developing.”

Marlene Saile, Curator and Executive Director of Atelier Omiros gazing at Omiros’ wondrous Madonna.

But the story of how Marlene Smile came to Atelier Omiros is more poignant and personal. You see Marlene’s husband, Venture Capitalist Peter Saile, was a longtime close personal friend and the art dealer of Omiros. In 2010, when Omiros suddenly passed, Peter and Marlene were shocked into mourning. After some time, they concluded it was their calling to present the Omiros oeuvre to the world, a goal they have been working towards ever since. And now a beautiful reality. “When I saw the space, I knew it was perfect.” 

Atelier Omiros is now the home to the genius of Omiros, a great master from the 20th and 21st Century. “Omiros was a transforming artist in the 50s and 60s, where he spurred the minimalist movement with Yves Klein and eventually wrote his own pictorial language in art: Figurabstraction.” As Marlene explains, “Because he was blind in one eye, Omiros created a new scale, a new definition of surface, a new syntax of relationships among space, pigment, edge, and drawing; displacing hierarchies with an unprecedented and powerful and fabulously intricate self-generating structure, at the juncture and conjuncture of abstraction and figuration, forever extending the syntax of his pictorial language.”

Marlene Saile (middle) with local residents Vasilka Bukov (right) and Nur Birol (left).

But Omiros refused fame and only sold to private collectors. So how can such a tremendous body of work and contribution to art remain private? “It can’t. It’s not about  fame, it’s about sharing its magnificence. It must  be seen and beheld by all in order for all to receive its tremendous gifts. Omiros left a large body of work spanning over 60 years of artistic expression. It takes you through several periods where he painted the Minimalists, the Abstracts, the Byzantines, the Mythologies and the Massacres. He then captured movement with his Sports, Fashion, the Four Seasons, the Masks and the Dances. Each one with his own Figurabstraction   forever extending the syntax of his pictorial language in art.”

Peter Saile sharing insights of his friend Omiros

“I am proud, happy, thankful and joyous to be still part of Omiros’ journey with my wife Marlene Saile and his family. I have known Omiros for 27 years and I am still struck by his technical mastery of colors, shape, form, line and perspective or better yet the lack of perspective and yet the insinuation of perspective. Having been born into a family with an old master’s collection, Omiros got me close to contemporary art which I enjoy tremendously. Abstract art and especially his abstracts make me feel that we all have limitless opportunities in a world with no boundaries. I will never forget the intensive talks Omiros and I had through pre-viewings at auction houses in Paris and many galleries, where he often uncovered tremendous art jewels, which we bought, and which are now part of Marlene’s and my collection. He had an eye for interesting works and themes. Omiros was so cool, funny, friendly, knowing his way. His own decision avoided to continue being part of any establishment as he has been at the beginning of the sixties being part of the Nouveau Réalisme Movement with Yves Klein and others. He did not want to be the object of art dealers, to be influenced what to paint following the taste of the time. Atelier Omiros in Bedford, which is specialized on Omiros goes well with Omiros’ thoughts and my own thoughts and is instrumental of  bringing Omiros close to private and public collectors and individuals who would love to have an Omiros or a fraction of an Omiros through the Artemesium Blockchain. 

Peter and Marlene Saile (middle), Paul and Anne-lyz Hriso (right), and daughters Chloe and Ambre Hriso (left) at the red carpet.

I feel confident that he is proud of us that in 2019 his work will be instrumental to the launch of the Artemesium blockchain platform for the arts, which is using as payment for the artworks and fractions of it (Art Crypto Access “ACA”) the brand new ARTM token and, which makes the democratization of artworks a reality. It will also allow talented but unknown artists to use the platform to get to be known by millions of people without being exposed to the often purposely caused limitations of the traditional way of marketing artworks and breaking an artist. Without Omiros this would not be possible. As it would not have happened that His Holiness Pope Francis is currently scheduling a private audience for Paul, Marlene and me in the first quarter of 2019 where Pope Francis will view an original Madonna with child painting created by Omiros from more than 500 of the Byzantine paintings from Omiros’ Byzantine Period. A selection of which can now be seen at Atelier Omiros in a warm, elegant and relaxing atmosphere, in an old country house in the historic district of Bedford. Organized by the Executive Director and Curator Marlene Saile supported and introduced by one of the great art collectors of America, my friend Lawrence Benenson and my friend and partner, the genial blockchain developer and devoted Omiros son, Paul Hriso. We have come a long way from the first exhibition of Omiros’ paintings, curated by me, at the Edenhouse Gallery in Berlin in 1995.” Peter Saile

Byzantine  paintings line the walls of Atelier Omiros

The first exploration of this magnificent journey has begun with this exhibition of Omiros’ paintings from his Byzantine period, where he painted the iconic holy stories of the Byzantine, as an artist living in the 20th and 21st Centuries, over 500 years after the end of the Byzantine Empire. In this period of his creative life, Omiros captured the stories of the divine in a holy and pure manner that can only speak in the color of spirit. Marlene eloquently adds, “No one since  the Renaissance has painted the icons of the Byzantine. Omiros painted them for 26 years. They are magnificent. They transcend any religion. They are spirit. He captured the divine. On another note, we are beyond honored that His Holiness Pope Francis is interested in learning more about Omiros and his Byzantine Period. We are working on doing an exhibition at the Vatican, or in Rome. So, these two events would work together and the  Atelier would fuel and support the interest to do Rome or the Vatican.”

“Above all, I would like for my Byzantines to remain as an ode to the infiniteness that is the human soul and its connection to the divine. May my Byzantines offer the sanctuary of having eyes to look at them, a heart to vibrate with them and the spirit to feel with them!” Omiros 

Omiros, Byzantine, Period Public Life of Christ, 1981, Acrylic on Silk, 19x44cm

Barbara Tamerin, Peter Saile, Anne-lys and Paul Hriso in front of Omiros’ Supper at Eamus.

So on this opening night of the Atelier, Omiros gallery prestigious guests took in the wonder that is Omiros, many being introduced to this great master for the first time. 

Here’s how major art collector and philanthropist Lawrence Benenson best explains, in his forward for this very exhibit, his first experience with Omiros.

“I remember clearly my first encounter with Omiros’s paintings. It was seven years ago on my visit to Marlene and Peter Saile’s home in Miami Beach during the art fairs known as Miami Basel. It had been a long week and I had seen a lot of art. I entered their home.  Wow! There were many spectacular paintings on the walls. I remember thinking, ‘This art is different, it’s intense and it’s magnificent!’ I was told that Omiros made the paintings. Omiros? ‘Who is Omiros?’, I wondered. I was very happy that I had not heard of Omiros. That enabled me to experience the vivid color and daring brushstrokes without any pre-conceived notions. And, what a great  and thrilling experience it was!”  Lawrence Benenson

*The Omiros Byzantine exhibit will be on display until May. Starting June 2019, Omiros’ paintings along with other important paintings created by other masters will be available for sale at the Artemesium blockchain platform, which will also offer segments of individual paintings to buyers. For more information: info@atelieromiros.com 

Marlene and Peter Saile are happily married and work together in the world of the arts. Marlene is an art historian, curator, collector and cultural law attorney. Peter has been Omiros’ private art dealer since the time he came to America in the 90s, and an art collector who grew up surrounded by major master art. Together and with Omiros’ family, they are bringing the magnificent and exciting Omiros oeuvre, from the 20th and 21st centuries, to you with Atelier Omiros and Artemesium.

Marlene Saile, Curator and Executive Director Atelier Omiros

11-15 Court Avenue

Bedford, NY 10506

(914) 764-2223

marlene@atelieromiros.com

www.atelieromiros.com