The beginning of 2016 found me opening my new studio in Kreuzlingen, CH. My work, by inner necessity, is inevitably about man; but my inspiration has always been alimented by input from nature. A common question I was asked by people who are familiar with my work so far, was how I could go and paint in a light so different from the Greek one. Light, however, is only one, small element of the natural input that drives my thought and intuition towards image making.
I can’t help seeing in nature, allegorical presentations of all aspects of human condition. I find them in central Europe or the Middle East, as I find them in my native Aegean. Landscapes, waterscapes, the colour of the earth, the hardness of the soil, the scent of the air, the height of the trees, the way man prunes them, how things die, how life recycles itself. Wondering at the shore of Bodensee and the nearby forests, presented a new wonderland of visual experience to me. Of course, light plays an important role on what one sees when one looks. The Aegean sun washes everything with the dramatic violence of the local winds; it exposes all things and dances a frantic dance of impressions in an ever-changing symphony of light and shadows. Light around my studio by the lake is a soft breeze. An enhancer of the inner colour of things. What I perceive here is the substance of mater. Live mater in immense density.
As I wrote a friend and fellow artist, my awareness here is directed towards “the decomposing mater under my feet as I walk through the forest, the layers of undergrowth, the strata of mist and fog, the secrets of the lake bed”. Mental images, or rather visual insights, are generated because of and through this richness and depth of physicality. The notion of unceasable recycling of all natural things, as opposed to the notion of the defined beginning and end of them, appears to be of comforting value and this feeling of comfort and ease is trying to materialise in my paintings. In the process of it all, a new element has found use in my work: ash. In its lightness, its absorbing properties and its plasticity, I found an ally to pictorial practice and a powerful symbol. Its symbolic value may not be directly visual, as it is not evident those surfaces are made with ash. It has enough of an effect for me though, to manage this material in the process of creating images today.
Detail of work in progress “Riverbed”.
96 x 67 cm, pencil, graphite, ash, pigments on paper.
Detail of work. Pencil and ash on paper.
Pruned, oil on canvas, 120x220cm (Phoenix series)
Το φως για ‘μένα είναι η ζωοποιός δύναμη όλης της ζωγραφικής. Μα όταν μιλάμε για το φως το αληθινό, εκείνο του ήλιου, το μυαλό πάει αμέσως στην αποτύπωση της στιγμής. Της εφήμερης και ανεπανάληπτης εντύπωσης των πραγμάτων καθώς λούζονται με χρώματα που μόνο ο ήλιος κάνει να υπάρχουν. Μόνο ο ήλιος και η όραση, και τα πράγματα Είναι. Για μια φευγαλέα στιγμή. Πριν αλλάξει το φως, πριν σβήσει μια σκιά, πριν αποστραφεί ένα βλέμμα.
Το ζωγράφο ο Πλάτωνας καταδίκασε για απάτη. Ως μιμητή φευγαλέων εντυπώσεων, πραγμάτων που δεν υπάρχουν. Εντυπώσεων μιας μόνο όψης, χωρίς δυνατότητα κίνησης, χωρίς υπόσταση στο χρόνο. Και θα είχε δίκαιο αν ήταν αυτό που κάνει ο ζωγράφος. Είναι όμως αυτό η ζωγραφική; Είναι η στιγμή που πραγματώνει το φως της ζωγραφικής η ίδια στιγμή που γράφει το φως στον καθρέφτη;
Όλα τα μεγάλα έργα αποδεικνύουν πως όχι. Δεν ήξερα πώς να το πω αυτό που κάνει ένα μεγάλο έργο ζωγραφικής όχι να «εμφανίζεται» αλλά να «εκτυλίσσεται» μπροστά μου.
Βρήκα τα λόγια στα λόγια του Ποιητή:
Ὅτι μπόρεσα ν᾿ ἀποχτήσω μία ζωὴ ἀπὸ πράξεις ὁρατὲς γιὰ ὅλους, ἑπομένως νὰ κερδίσω τὴν ἴδια μου διαφάνεια, τὸ χρωστῶ σ᾿ ἕνα εἶδος εἰδικοῦ θάρρους ποὺ μοῦ ῾δωκεν ἡ Ποίηση: νὰ γίνομαι ἄνεμος γιὰ τὸ χαρταετὸ καὶ χαρταετὸς γιὰ τὸν ἄνεμο, ἀκόμη καὶ ὅταν οὐρανὸς δὲν ὑπάρχει.
Δὲν παίζω μὲ τὰ λόγια. Μιλῶ γιὰ τὴν κίνηση ποὺ ἀνακαλύπτει κανεὶς νὰ σημειώνεται μέσα στὴ «στιγμή» ὅταν καταφέρει νὰ τὴν ἀνοίξει καὶ νὰ τῆς δώσει διάρκεια.
(Οδυσσέας Ελύτης, απόσπασμα από το Μικρός Ναυτίλος)
Η ζωγραφική είναι ποίηση σιωπώσα, η δε ποίηση είναι ζωγραφική λαλούσα. Σιμωνίδης ο Κείος (556 π.Χ.-469 π.Χ.)
There was a moment in 2009 when the idea of a series of works inspired by the ancient Greek baso rilievo sculptures as well as the garden walls of the mansions in Syros’ countryside, was born in my mind. It was the very moment when I felt something very personal was taking its place in my painting. I was to call this series “The Garden”, and at the time I thought it was a finite idea which would expire by the realization of the next exhibition. While the work was progressing however, the title “Within Walls” emerged out of the paintings themselves. And they became a pictorial installation,which was first exhibited in 2011, and in which the neighborhood garden walls were transformed, by pictorial means, into the walls man surrounds himself by, either for protection or self confinement.
…simultaneously, a real garden was born right outside the studio…
It was then evident that what I had called “The Garden” was not just one series of paintings as I initially thought, but the field of my surrounding environment where I was from then on to quarry forms from, suitable to embody the concepts arising from within me. In the mean time, I became a long distance runner and Don Quijote alike, in the landscape I cross, anthropomorphic, expressive forms constantly appear before me. In my new works, pruned vines extend their members upwards, sidewards and towards the mysterious girl who appears randomly among them. Her name: Phoenix.
"Phoenix and Light", oil on canvas, 60x120cm
This body of work, this new pictorial installation, is in progress and I am eager to find out which route it will travel as I travel along with it.
"Phoenix and Light", oil on canvas, 80x120cm