Lovers of rebetika are in for a treat. Artist Efrossini Chaniotis goes back to her Greek roots in her latest exhibition, A Brush with the Blues, taking inspiration from the musical style forged by refugees, outsiders and rebels in her latest offering of paintings and sculptures.

She was inspired during a rebetika jam in suburban Melbourne, taken by the stories, characters, and raw, poetic lyrics of the songs together with the cultural, historical and socio-political scope of the genre.

Rebetika has seen a re-emergence in recent years. It developed in the Greek cities of Asia Minor in the early 1900’s and survived WWI cradled in the pain and trauma of refugees who crossed the seas in exile, along with the pressures of censorship, and the day-to-day struggles that came with living on the margins of society.

MORE: ‘Rebetika will always be relevant’

Winner of the 2019 Gippsland Sculpture Prize, Chaniotis’ visually powerful artworks give insight into a rich cultural phenomenon, drawing parallels with the plights and values that are relevant to society today.

“There was a steady build-up of images in my mind’s eye of the complex stories behind the music,” the artist explains.

“At first I wanted to depict how the music travelled across the sea with refugees fleeing to safety and then its ultimate journey across oceans to places as far as Australia. Before long I was carried into a steady flow of strong imagery and metaphors that went beyond and, like the songs themselves, explored emotional, socio-political and historical dimensions.”


A Brush With The Blues officially opens this Sunday, 23 February and will be launched by award-winning photographer Michael Teo. Attendees will also be treated to a live Greek music jam.

‘A Brush With The Blues’ opens on Sunday 23 February from 3.00-6.00 pm, and runs until Sunday 26 April at Argo Restaurant Gallery (320 Queens Parade, North Fitzroy VIC). 
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11.00 am-9.00 pm; Sunday: 12 noon-8.30 pm