Bill Papas Exhibit Opens at Maliotis
Center on October 5

Few can draw the rear end of an elephant as convincingly as the tortured face of Richard Nixon, but one such artist was Greek South African, Bill Papas. Alan Coren, many years editor of Punch Magazine wrote, "He, Papas, is a highly distinguished and original artist, whose work, I firmly believe, is not only of significance of its time, but will make an important contribution to the journalistic history of that time."

Bostonians will have a chance to judge for themselves when a retrospective of over 100 pieces of Papas' original artwork opens at the Maliotis Cultural Center in Brookline on October 5, 2003. Known worldwide in the sixties as the political cartoonist of London's Guardian, Punch Magazine and Sunday Times, Papas parleyed his tremendous artistic talent into cartoons and book illustrations that were pungent, succinct but never destructive. Frequently he went against the editorial line but his wise editor, Alistair Hethrington, never reined him in and it was rare for one of his cartoons not to be published.

Papas left cartooning in 1972 (he returned to it briefly in 1992) and retired to the small Greek village his father had left in 1900.

Retire is the wrong word though as both Oxford University Press and Collins Publishers constantly called on him. He both illustrated and wrote over 30 children's books for OUP and had the distinction to be twice runner up for the Kate Greenaway Medal for children's illustrations. He was a particular favorite of Lady Collins, doyenne of the publishing house, and she would have him tracked down to some remote Aegean island that he might be visiting with his yacht in order to propose a particularly difficult book for him to illustrate. Among them were The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis and Illustrimi by Pope John Paul I.

In 1979 he was invited by the Jerusalem Foundation to spend three months at Mishkenot Sha’anim, their center for outstanding musicians, writers and artists. Inspired by the inhabitants of the Old City Papas produced People of Old Jerusalem, a coffee table book packed with his elegant watercolors and pen and ink sketches and with an accompanying text by his wife, Tessa. The book was published by Collins in 1980. For the book launching the watercolors were displayed in the Old City Museum near the Jaffa Gate. On the day of the opening Papas asked the curator if the people whom he had sketched had been invited. On learning they had not, he grabbed a handful of invitations and raced around the Old City. That night the Ethiopian monks and the Armenian nuns stood under their portraits, the Palestinian coffee maker made coffee for the dignitaries and the shoeshine boy shone shoes; all his subjects came. Teddy Kollek, the then Mayor of Jerusalem, was delighted. He felt it was an evening "the city came together."

In 1984 Papas changed his life completely and moved to Portland, Oregon. His focus soon turned to America and Americans and Papas' America was the fruit of a 100,000 mile automobile journey around this country. The watercolors that stemmed from this voyage were exhibited in many galleries and at the Senate Rotunda in Washington DC. His last exhibition was in Athens in October 1999. It was opened by US Ambassador Nicholas Burns and attended by over 500 people. Six months later still at the height of his creative power Papas died in a small-plane accident in British Columbia while on a fishing trip with a group of friends.

The retrospective of his work at the Maliotis Cultural Center that opens on October 5th will cover the full spectrum of Papas' artistic career. It starts with early sketches done while sitting on street corners in Europe in the late forties, continues with early South African work while he was an artist/reporter for the Cape Times and follows his career as a cartoonist, illustrator and artist in London and Greece. A number of pen and ink works from his travels throughout Greece in the seventies are included as well as watercolors of USA, Italy, Japan and Jerusalem.

For more information, contact Lee Tamis, 617-522-2800