Encouraged by Greek mythology, one particular mural painter describes his is effective as present-day Byzantine painting, balancing realism and abstraction. Alix Norman fulfills him
Fikos is midway up a wall in Athens. “I’ve been working given that 7am,” he clarifies, “and I’ll retain heading late into the evening, so it’s simpler to connect with you from the scaffolding rather than go all the way down and back up.”
The 34-calendar year-previous Greek is a painter of partitions – for this reason the heights. But this isn’t a whitewash career. Fikos is a entire world-renowned muralist, and he’s busy making nevertheless a different massive function of artwork in the centre of Athens. “There’s a philosopher – Socrates in my thoughts,” he adds. “There are figures making use of laptops and books and smartphones… Everything to do with conversation, because that’s the target of the fee.”
An artist by trade, Fikos’ principal human body of work is canvas-based. He’s presently participated in quite a few group exhibitions, and has relished four solo reveals, in Athens, London, Turin and Limassol. But murals, he suggests, are quite quite possibly the more important section of his get the job done, specifically in phrases of social effect.
“My connection with the wall begun in 1999, with graffiti,” the artist reveals. “I moved into road artwork, and at the exact time began doing the job on indoor murals in Greek Orthodox churches. Then, in 2011, I started producing outdoor murals influenced by Greek mythology…
“These myths are limitless and imaginative, supplying plenty of themes to paint,” he clarifies. They’re also timeless – “I have confidence in the message of these legends if they’ve lived for two to three millennia, they must have one thing to say” – and enjoy a large attraction. “Over the several years of Western civilization’s cultural dominance, Greek myths have grow to be worldwide, and this allows my artwork to appeal to a global audience.”
Although the heroes and villains of Greek myth are the matter, Fikos’ design is ideal explained as ‘Greek-Byzantine’. “It’s good for another person to assume ‘Byzantine artwork is the art of Byzantium it’s a dead artwork that belongs to the past’,” he suggests. “But to me, Byzantine portray is a malleable, visible language that can be nonetheless modern day that is why, 10 many years ago, I decided to simply call this fashion ‘Contemporary Byzantine Painting’, a time period which has given that been adopted by other artists.”
At a time when ‘contemporary’ art is often synonymous with ‘incomprehensible’, Fikos suggests, his design and style provides a viewer-helpful knowledge: a classic artwork kind that falls just amongst realism and abstraction. “Byzantine artwork presents what is recognised as ‘Reverse Perspective’,” he explains. “Which usually means the perspective comes forward toward the viewer, instead than disappearing into a vanishing issue. In essence, the composition references the particular person who is actually searching at the do the job. Let us not fail to remember,” he notes, “that this Greek-Byzantine art has outlasted any variety of other styles. Above the 2,000 years of its history – from the Hellenistic period of time to the stop of the 18th century, this style has productively expressed the views and thoughts of plenty of nations and populations.”
This popular enchantment, he acknowledges, results in a certain obligation for the artist. “I imagine that these myths, as a collective legacy, supply a security internet as opposed to the artist’s personal sights, which could be erroneous, controversial or even disturbing to society. Until finally the delivery of modern metropolitan areas, public art was the norm,” he proposes. “But then, cities became crammed with faceless structures. They had been ‘dried out’ by artwork – an art which became the sole purview of artwork historians, curators, gallerists and collectors. But with the increase of murals, this standing quo has started to collapse. With murals, we’re generating what is effectively ‘art for the people’. It’s possible that is why individuals embrace it so warmly.”
Fikos’ art has definitely been well-gained wherever he goes. In the course of his function, he’s visited about 30 nations, and expended many several hours producing publically-viewable artwork. “It begins,” he describes, “with days of research on the topic and record of the location. I glance for a subject matter that will be pleasurable to see that will match the colour tones of its environs and also be educational and useful.”
Then comes the actual creation of the mural. And this, he reveals, can be rather a challenge. “No matter your psychological or physical condition – and I have worked in temperatures ranging from minus 7 to 40-plus! – you have to provide a wonderful final result in a restricted total of time. It is prevalent for me to get the job done 14 to 16 hrs per working day I at the time worked for 36 several hours straight with just a two-hour split!
“The most demanding mural,” he discloses, “was the ‘Earth and Sky’ mural in Kiev. At 46 metres in top, it is the biggest mural in the record of Greek and Byzantine artwork. And also,” he adds, “one of my favourites, simply because it’s a daring assertion that this tradition is nonetheless alive and evolving.”
Enjoyed by hundreds of 1000’s on a everyday foundation, Fikos’ vast creations adorn walls proper across Europe, like Cyprus. “I’ve painted at least 10 murals on the island,” he divulges. “Not all of them are in community spaces even though – some are located in Eldyk military camps and facilities a single is in the personal offices of a firm.”
But other people are effortlessly observed. There is the large ‘Gorgo’ which will take up an total wall of an condominium building on Nicosia’s Stasikratous. A imagined-provoking ‘Tribute to Nicosia’ on a sandstone wall in Grammou road. The vibrant ‘Onesilus and Amaracus’ in the Ermou neighbourhood of the cash. And ‘Pygmalion and Galateia’ on the aspect of a stone property in Paphos.
For the moment though, this proficient muralist – future 7 days he’ll be completing a 30-metre fee in Crete, just before jetting off to Paris for another position – remains half-way up a wall in Athens. The career disorders may possibly not be best, but which is all part and parcel of building art which, Fikos suggests, is a lot less about the artist and additional about the viewer. “My hopes are not for me but broader,” he concludes. “I hope that artwork will return by some means to far more regular values. Human historical past started with public art. With murals, we’re seeing a return of artwork for the persons.”