No Land’s Beast
2 Nov – 2 Dec 2017 Athens ART CURATOR Yiannis Bolis
Zacharias Papantoniou is a keen proponent of the renewed potential of painting and draughtsmanship with a style that is modern, original, and filled with references and connotations. In his works can be traced influences from major trends and movements of modernism: from cubism and futurism to abstraction, expressionism and surrealism. Influences which, in most instances, are processed, absorbed, and organically incorporated in his art. His drawings - a large group of works - with explosive intensity of black, density and sharpness of the linear elements, offer a dive into unknown and uncharted territories, depicting a universe inhabited by all kinds of imaginary monsters, which develop monumentally and dominate, rise as fragments from the realm of dreams and imagination, the edges of a dark nightmare, with symbolic implications and multiple approaches and readings. The same sense is imposed on his painting compositions, which reveal full mastery of his expressive media; the knowledge he has conquered of the problems of form and draughtsmanship, of space organization; of the processing and function of colour. In his more recent attempts, he is led to a greater degree of abstraction, where forms are not absent, but implied. He contrives to impose a dramatic sense and, at other times, a more lyrical mood, in each instance, however, the atmosphere is singular and allusive. By removing all commitment to figurative depiction he receives the capacity to invest in, experiment with and investigate purely sculptural composition in his art: rhythm, movement, material, immediate emotional transmission. Throbbing chromatic forms, warm and cool tones are juxtaposed and combined, overlap or penetrate each other, create an open field for transformation and conversion, emit energy, organize spaces with their own meaning, transcribe images of a different reality, amplify the imprint of instinctual gestures, of automatic recording, of spontaneous explosion, of constant movement and of continuous expansion. At the same time, they verify the existence of an internal rhythm, a carefully studied structure, which coheres, balances and intensifies the whole. The abstract compositions appear to spring directly from the subconscious, from the artist’s experiences and roots, depicting his vital relationship with the world, in a direct correlation with mental and emotional situations, in a course of revelation and transmission of a hidden meaning. A peculiar universe of “fragmented” pictures and reflections comes to the foreground. Spaces that are familiar and unexpectedly unfamiliar, skulls (a returning and repeated motif like a constant memento mori) and arms spread out in the prayer’s position, weird herbal motifs and abstract shapes, gates that open their doors to the unknown, night views of urban sceneries, human figures that debouch in the dark and immerse into it, impose themselves dominantly in correspondence to experiential situations, sentimental and spiritual manifestations. Yannis Vassalos’ compositions claim their own place in the era of mediated and digital picture. The topics emerge and exist in the meeting point of reality, fiction and dream, conceal or gradually reveal, while the pop culture, the surreal spirit, ironic disposition and a subversive sense of humour play the main part. In a systematic way, critical thinking and symbolic references he organizes his material, reveals the obsessions, the origins and intentions, composes unpredicted scenes of the human life, directs the ambivalent and “densely populated” spaces of his narrations and stories, the transformations, the transpositions experimenting with and investigating his expressive abilities.