Theophilos Museum is located in Varia, a picturesque suburb of Mytilene, in an area full of olive trees. It is housed in a building of chaste architecture, that was erected in 1964 with a donation of the renowned art critic and publisher
Stratis Eleftheriades-Teriade, the man who "discovered" Theophilos and made his work known. Besides, the 86 paintings by the artist displayed today in the museum halls derive from Teriade’s own collection, which he donated to the Municipality of Mytilene.
Self-taught painter Theophilos Chatzimichael (or Kefalas, appr. 1868-1934) is the leading figure of the Greek folk art. He was born and passed his childhood in Vareia, but had to leave his paternal home at the age of 18. He endured a harsh and impoverished life, first in Smyrna, later in Volos and mainly in Pelion, where he stayed for many years and created an important part of his work, like his frescoes on the walls of houses and stores. When he finally returned to Mytilene after 1912, he met the internationally acclaimed art critic and publisher Teriade, thanks to whom Theophilos’ fame surpassed the Greek borders.
In the rich thematology, that inspires Theophilos, history holds a special place, with the emblematic figures of Alexander the Great, Konstantinos Palaeologos and the heroes of the 1821 Greek War of Independence recurring as protagonists of his paintings. His art has been praised for its spontaneous, unpretentious style, the realistic expression, the warm natural colours (usually made by himself), namely all those components that determine authentic folk art.