s “CONTEMPORARY BYZANTINE PAINTING” - Swarm mag

“CONTEMPORARY BYZANTINE PAINTING”

Greek painter Fikos strives to resurrect, with his egg tempera pieces or acrylic murals, the dead tradition, philosophy and motifs of ancient Greek and Byzantine painting.

WORDS BY THE AUTHOR / The  place I was born (Athens, Greece) definitely played a major role in shaping my art. It is here that democracy was born, philosophy flourished, the general openness of the mind that created by the all-time great Greek maritime trade; it is also here that the centre of Hellenism and Greek Orthodox Christianity is, after the fall of Constantinople caused by Ottoman Turks and later the birth of the modern nation of Greece. 

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My art explores all this spectrum of Greek traditional art and history but doesn’t end there. My influences reach from ancient Egypt to Modernism, Street Art and the contemporary reality of the 21st century. Though you will rarely see ephemeral situations in my art, such as comments about politics, economy crisis, COVID-19 etc. This kind of “commenting art”, to me is more like watching the news on TV: might concern you a lot today but not at all tomorrow.

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I believe art should be something more than a stimulator of ephemeral, instant feelings. It should shape characters, promote an ethos. At least that’s what I have learned from the Classical past. Ancient tragedies are still powerful and present even after 2,500 years because they are dealing with timeless values, the core of the human soul. So, even when I am painting a contemporary theme, (a “light” one, such as the Netflix series “Rick and Morty”, to something more heavy like my mural “Bodies”, commenting on the problem of the hundreds of thousands of refugees sent to Greece by Turkey for the last 5 years), it will be in an abstract way, highlighting the timelessness of the theme and the possible message-lesson we could get from it.

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Does this timelessness have a more practical application in the 21st century? Sure it does! In an era that has turned consumption into religion, our life is dominated more and more by short-term relationships with everything: materials, beliefs, values, people. But the truth is that more smartphones won’t make us more clever or cooler, more crazy artistic styles won’t make us more conscious, more materials won’t make us richer, more fast food won’t make us feel “complete”. We cannot assimilate such a huge volume of information the same the planet cannot assimilate so much garbage. For someone who agrees that this situation is problematic, Timelessness could be the answer. We have to learn how to focus on long-term relationships with our surroundings. Some of us do it already – we call it “ecology”.

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Coming from the Greek words “Oikos” (House) and “-logia” (Science), it is the science of studying the relationship between living beings and their natural environment or a way of living in harmony with our “house” – the Nature. As it is only the beginning of this movement, most of the practices, such as recycling, vegetarianism, etc., focus on material elements. As the movement grows, more and more non-materialistic ecological practices will appear.

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In a way, working within the context of tradition is also a non-materialistic, “artistic recycling”, as, artistically, you take something old, you evaluate it, deconstruct it, transform it and adapt it according to society’s needs and, finally, you re-introduce it as something brand new, able to serve the world again. That’s the power of tradition, and something we should have more of in our lives.

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ARTIST’S BIO / Byzantine Art first captured me at the age of 10, when I started embroidering and drawing christian saints with colored pencils. Since I was 13, I’ve been studying Byzantine art and became an iconographer, a graffiti writer, a street artist and now a muralist. I’ve created “Contemporary Byzantine Painting” and I have painted the largest mural in the history of Greek and Byzantine art (46-m high), also some indoor murals at the ETH Zurich University. Looking back at my 20-year art journey, I consider my workmanship similar to that of a golddigger.

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I travel the world, I read books and see numerous pieces of art every single day; I am searching through thousands of mental icons, just to find the one little gold fragment that I can add to the long history of Greek-Byzantine art. My vision is to create the spark that will revive ancient painting traditions in the contemporary art world. I work to reconcile the past and future in the present time.

Feronios
Xelidonia

Artist / FIKOS

Instagram / @fikosantonios

Website / www.fikos.gr

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