New art, and new exhibitions

2020 kicked off with a bang for me, with my participation in two group shows:  ‘Love and Disaster in Athens’, at the FokiaNou art space, and ’20/20 High Vision’, at the artzone42 gallery. It’s been really exciting to be a more active member of the art community. So, here are some photos from the shows, plus some new works. Let me also tell you a bit about the two works on show:

'Sails I', 29x29

‘Sails I’, at FokiaNou art space, was inspired by the Athens Riviera, that beautiful stretch of coast so unique to this concrete jungle of a city, where you can escape and dream, and let nature heal you, while you watch the sailing boats, the waves, the sparkles on the sea. We are truly lucky to have this as part of our ‘city experience’. So, as you can see, I’m probably on the ‘love’ side of the exhibition’s equation (although a second reading of the work could probably find other aspects too). As a journalist in the art scene, I have certainly garnered inspiration for my art practice from various exhibitions/press conferences/talks etc. In this case, the work of Bia Davou was strongly in my mind (after getting to know her work at Documenta 14), plus the words of architect Renzo Piano, when he had waxed lyrical about the light and the sea of the Athenian coast, which was a source of inspiration for him when he created his architectural masterpiece there (the SNFCC). My work ‘Sails I’, is but a humble homage to the Athenian coast, plus a reflection on the works and words of these two great people. It’s also an attempt to explore the grey zone between art and design.

Where the Roses Grow

‘Where the Roses Grow’, at the artzone42 gallery, fits into the theme of ’20/20 High Vision’, because it might appear to be simply a painting of some roses, but there are other things there too, which the viewer is called upon to discover. Negative and positive space in art are a bit like yin and yang, the one completing the other. I would say that in a painting, there is no such thing as an empty space. But in life too. There are things there, but we just can’t see them. From a spiritual point of view, there were artists who saw things where others didn’t, such as William Blake. Certainly he is one of my favourite artists and poets.
‘Where the Roses Grow’, is a work that captures that moment of dusk, which I love so much. It’s a time of transformation and imagination.

New Works 2019

It’s been a busy year so far, but still found the time to continue my art practice. Here are some of the new works. I’m always inspired by nature, both here in Greece, but also England’s landscapes and flower gardens have played their role. There’s also a Canadian coyote in this selection of works. It’s in nature that you find peace of mind, balance and health. We need to remember that, even through art. In a world that is becoming all the more artificial, tainted, contaminated, maybe in order to go forward, we have to go back to nature, once again. Cezanne said that ‘Art is a harmony parallel with nature’ and ‘To paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations’.

 

 

Geometrics

Here are some examples from my ‘Geometrics’ series. These are works that have been inspired by designs from around the world. Undoubtedly ancient Greek designs have played an important role, but I have tried to also combine them with other design elements from other cultures, ranging from the Indian, to the Aboriginal, to English Arts and Crafts and beyond. You often find that many of these designs from other countries, will bring you right back to ancient Greece, which just goes to show how cultures travel through art and design, and multiculturalism is an ancient and modern concept.

But it’s not just about assimilating different cultural elements in my work, it’s also about transcending time barriers too, combining the ancient with the contemporary, the classical with the pop.

Furthermore, these works are not meant to be ‘perfect’, symmetrically. Why? Because nature is like that. There is symmetry in nature, but no two flowers are the same, no two people either. So, it’s good also in life if we can get accustomed to a kind of ‘organic symmetry’, where undoubtedly there are rules and patterns, but difference is also allowed. Hence the slightly ‘freestyle’ look of these works, that explore a creative domain somewhere between design and art, order and freedom of expression.

 

 

 

 

 

The sea

THE SEA has many colours, many characters, especially in Greece. From its pretty postcard beauty of touristic attraction, to the menacing watery tomb of immigrants, fleeing a war-ridden land, in search of a better future. It is a kaleidoscope of feelings and meanings, and has played an intrinsic role to the development of this country’s culture. In the last few years, the sea has been a major muse for me, inspiring me to create all sorts of art, from the more geometric designs, to the typical Greek sea scenes of postcards, to the more expressive, and even to the more abstract. Why this pluralism? Because I have tried to explore this subject from many sides, aiming in this way to re-examine this ancient but timeless theme in Greek art, and hopefully, one day, my ‘review’ of this subject, might lead to a new, revised interpretation of it. However, I  also feel that these different works are meant to come together as one, in a kind of painting installation. I have drawn inspiration from many sources: From the geometric designs of the ancient greeks, to the paintings of artists such as Volanakis, Monet, and Greek contemporaries such as Chryssa Verghi. Undoubtedly the latter artist has been a major influence on me. She is a contemporary master of the seascape, and of the watery element in general, focusing on not only the sea, but also on rivers, pools of water etc.

Below, you can see how these different renditions of the sea, can be viewed together, as a pluralistic mosaic:

Watercolours

The beauty of watercolours is their watery nature and translucency. Also, they’re a great summer activity, that you can easily take with you anywhere, in order to capture quickly impressions of beaches, landscapes, urban scenes you come across. They are also a great medium to capture more ‘fairytale scenes’, as they are the classic medium for illustration. Here are some of my quick watercolours that I did this summer in Greece, plus some more ‘fairytale’ scenes.

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Stella - 'Thessaloniki'

Stella - 'Ship Alone'

Flower power

The stylized flowers depicted by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, are still part of contemporary designs today – just take a look at Liberty’s designs for example. Humans have always been attracted to flowers, because of their beauty, their aroma, their symbolism of rebirth in Spring. They are nature’s form of colour therapy after the bleak winter, igniting our mood and passion, awakening our senses.  When you paint flowers, you are not only painting one of nature’s most intricate, beautiful, delicate and sensuous of forms, but you are also aware of the rich history behind it, in art, literature and poetry: Wordsworth, Blake, Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, O’Keefe are a few of those who have explored the power of a flower, and have taken it to new heights. Of course my flowers cannot compare to the greatness of theirs, but their perspectives have undoubtedly influenced my paintings of these most wonderful structures, that bloom and die in order to create.

There is also another side to this flower story of mine: some of these flowers have been bought from a refugee who sells them on the streets (hence the title of the last work displayed here in the black frame, called ‘Refugee Rose’). I admire him for trying to make a living of some sort, not just by cleaning car windows as other people on the streets do. He is also very polite and always has a smile on his face, he makes the effort come rain or shine. Once, I didn’t have any change to give him, and he just plonked them in the car anyway and said to me ‘Next time you pass by, you can pay me. You are a good person.’. Some say that these flowers that are sold on the streets by immigrants/refugees, have been stolen from graveyards. But even if this is the case, they have been given a second lease of life by these people, seeing as after they have served the dead, they now have helped the living. I would like to think that I in turn give them a third lease of life, by painting them, and turning them into art.

 

 

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'Flowers Forever', detail

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refugee roses

Nature therapy

‘Go to nature’ and there you will be healed. When painting nature, you discover its rules, its intricate patterns and colour combinations, its symmetry and its uniqueness, because no two tulips, roses, olive trees or people are ever the same. It is the rational humans that want to generalise and then categorise. It makes life easier for them, rather than to accept the difference in every natural form or being. But the artist often seeks out that difference.

 

 

Mermaids

Here are some of works from my ‘Mermaids’ series. Some of them have travelled beyond the borders of Greece (to New York for example), but I still have quite a few of them here too. This was a series that kicked off in 1994 when I moved to Greece from London. They are inspired by my love of the sea and swimming in the crystal-clear Samian waters in particular.