At the age of sixteen, after having studied under the great actor Thomas Economou (1864-1927), Nikos Velmos appeared on stage in the theater company of Marika Kotopouli (1887-1954). In 1916 he founded the 'Stratiotiko Theatro' (Army Theater). In 1918 he met in Thessaloniki the author Stratis Doukas (1895-1983), and the two become close friends. He published his texts in literary amd theater journals in the 1910s. In December 1926 he published the caustic magazine 'Frangelio' (Whip), "a liberal instrument [...] which is born to support those who are inclined towards truth". The publication of this magazine lasted until 1929. Parallel to that, in 1927 he founded the 'Asylon Technis' (Art Home), Greece's first exhibiton hall for contemporary art that operated in his own residence in Plaka, at 21 Navarchou Nikodimou Street, and continued to operate well after his death in 1930. The first exhibition was Halepas, followed by Untrained Artists; Satyrical Portraits by Haralambos Pachys; Monuments by Vrettos; Lembessis and Economou; Galanis; Old Athens and Pottery; The Vroutos Brothers; Decorative Art by Johan Romanos; and Monuments in the Athens Cemetery through Photographs by Metallides.
An idiosyncratic personality, anarchist, uncompromising mocker of the conventions of his time, Velmos fertilized spiritually the Athenian society of the 1920s. Out of the pages of Frangelio he was turned into a late herald of post-enlightnement. Visionary as he was, he appreciated the significance of the relation of the Greek audience with the works of international dramatical repertory, while opening the horizons of the people towards the unadorned and naïve art. Thus, he paved the way for the investigation of the so-called '1930s Generation' artists. Besides, he used Frangelio to acquaint the public with Dominikos Theotokopoulos and Ludwig van Beethoven, as well as Yannoulis Halepas, Dimitris Galanis, Angelos Theodoropoulos and Spyros Papaloukas. [Dr. Dimitris Pavlopoulos]
Velmos turned towards sketching impelled by his friend Doukas. Being quite linear, his sketches illustrate an effort to preserve the originality of simple, everyday human types. He presented his art in a personal exhibition at Asylon Technis in 1928.
Velmos wrote a number of works in Greek, such as Lovestruck Singer (1914); Faithful to Desperation (1915); Dimitrios Paparrigopoulos: Songs Translated in Demotic (1916); Couple of Loves (1923) e.a. He also adapted several theatrical work of the Greek and foreign repertory, including Shakespeare's As You Like It (1914); Antony and Cleopatra (1917); Othello (1918); and Hamlet (1926).
It is worth noting that in 2006 Mr. Takis Efstathiou entrusted ACG Art with the Nikos Velmos archive. Largely comprising of drawings, this archive was acquired from his sisters, Tatiani and Aridane, by the 'Hellenic Creations Gallery' (36 Voulis Street, Athens), which was founded in 1970 by Yanni Posnakoff and managed by Takis Efstathiou. Most of these drawings are small in size, intended to feature in Velmos' journal Frangelio, and cover the period from 1920 to 1930. There is a total of 422 drawings by Nikos Velmos, which are divided in the following 17 categories: Youth (34); Women (22); Adults (95); Seniors (88); Officers (10); Glasses (21); Dreamers (44); Taverns (17); Animals (3); Trees (10); Country (20); Copies (12); Still Lifes (8); Decorations (20); Stage Design (4); Theater (10); and Propaganda (4).
Nikos Velmos died of uraemia in the great gallery on the first floor of Asylon Technis on 6 July 1930.
[Megakles Rogakos 08/2006]
VELMOS, NIKOS Untrained Painters 1927 Frangelio, Athens, #4 [Greek]
PESMATZOGLOU, M. Untitled: Concerning Nikos Velmos 1928 Frangelio, Athens, #1 [Greek]
HELIADES, B. Untitled: Concerning Nikos Velmos 1955 To Vima, Athens, #04/06/1955 [Greek]
DOUKAS, STRATIS Recollecting Ten Friends of Mine 1976 Athens, p.67-76 [Greek]
GORPAS, T. Adventurous, Social and Dark Greek Novel: 1850-1950 1981 Athens, p.27-31 [Greek]
TSAKONAS, D. Literature and Society in the Interwar Period 1987 Athens, p.283-285 [Greek]
KORFIS, T. Biography of Stratis Doukas, from 1895 to 1936 1988 Athens, p.121-126 [Greek]
VAGIAS, M. Concise History of Literary and Political Magazines of Greece, from their Birth till Today: 1784-1990 1990, p.31 [Greek]
PAVLOPOULOS, D.M. Untitled: Concerning Nikos Velmos 1991 Nea Hestia, Athens, #1524 [Greek]
CHRISTAKIS, L. The History of Vagabondage 1993 Athens, p.126-127 [Greek]
BALOUMIS, E.G. Interwar Period: Prose Writing of 1920 1996 Athens, p.312-314 [Greek]
LOGOTHETIS, NIKOS Untitled: Nikos Velmos 1996 Kathimerini, Athens, 29/09/1996 [Greek]
VELMOS, NIKOS Selections: Miscellaneous Literature et al 1996-1999, Athens, #1-10 [Greek]
ZEVELAKIS, G. Untitled: Concerning Nikos Velmos 1999 I Read, Athens, #397 [Greek]
ANTHOLOGY Lexikon of Greek Artists: Painters, Sculptors, Engravers: 16th-20th Century 1997 Melissa, Athens, v.4, p.482-483 [Greek]
LOGOTHETIS, NIKOS Nikos Velmos (1890-1930) 2006 Athens [Greek]
KATIA KILESSOPOULOU & DIMITRIS PAVLOPOULOS Mount Athos in Greek Art 2007 National Bank Cultural Foundation, Athens [Greek]